An estimated 100,000 virtual dogs will “march” across the Internet next week to deliver a global message: Use collars, not cruelty, in the fight against rabies.

The dogs – all of who have been named and virtually “collared” by animal welfare advocates around the world – represent the strong global support for the World Society for the Protection of Animals' (WSPA) Collars Not Cruelty campaign, which promotes vaccination as an alternative to mass dog killings.

“Every year, nearly 20 million dogs are needlessly and cruelly killed in misguided attempts to control rabies,” said Ray Mitchell, International Campaigns Director, WSPA. “Through this virtual dog march, we want to tell governments and people around the world that it doesn’t have to be this way – through mass vaccination, they can humanely and effectively tackle the disease.”

WSPA’s approach to rabies control has already proven successful in many countries. The organization most recently carried out a mass vaccination project in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, where it immunized more than 70 percent of the dog population; each dog was given a red collar to show local community members it was vaccinated. The project mirrored another successful WSPA-funded project in Bali, where 210,000 dogs were vaccinated within six months and – as a result – cases of rabies in dogs and humans dramatically decreased.

“I think that WSPA’s initiative in Bali is amazing and it proves that their solution works to protect humans, and of course to protect the animals,” said WSPA celebrity ambassador Leona Lewis. “I wish that more governments would take this on board. I really hope that everyone joins me in supporting this campaign as this is something I feel really passionate about.”

Celebrities Ricky Gervais, Kristin Bauer and Victoria Stillwell are also championing the “Collars Not Cruelty” campaign and encourage fans to also show support by signing up for the Jan. 24 virtual march.

“Collar a dog, spread the word, help save a life. It’s as simple as that,” said Gervais.

“The fact that millions of dogs are being killed every year in failed attempts to fight rabies is horrifying,” added Stillwell. “It’s vital that everyone in the animal welfare community come together and take action on this important issue – please sign up for WSPA’s virtual dog march, today, and help deliver the message of ‘Collars Not Cruelty’ to governments and people around the world!”

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