GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Veterinary Services Department had put to sleep 1,647 stray dogs since the culling campaign which started on Sept 15. Since Sept 15, its director Dr Siti Salmiah Tahir said, they recorded 126 cases of people being bitten by stray dogs including four suspected rabies cases in the state. “Many of the stray dogs are still free thus we are unable to say whether the dogs are rabies infected,” she said when contacted by theSun. On the four new suspected cases, Dr Siti Salmiah said, they are awaiting laboratory reports to ascertain if the dogs tested positive for the disease. The cases – two from Central Seberang Prai and another from Northern Seberang Prai involved stray dogs that reportedly became aggressive and started to bite people and another in Mount Erskine where the owner requested that his dog be put to sleep. Siti added that 573 pet dogs have been vaccinated by their owners who came to Penang VSD headquarters in Bukit Tengah. On Sept 16, Penang was declared a rabies-infected zone after two cases were reported in North Seberang Prai and Kuala Sungai Pinang in Balik Pulau. Since then VSD has been authorised by the state government to round up and put stray dogs to sleep as a preventive measure. Meanwhile, Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MBSJ) president Datuk Nor Hisham Ahmad Dahlan said they have captured more than 1,000 stray dogs since January and kept in a pound in Puchong. Rabies is a zoonotic disease and spreads from animals to humans, through bites or mucus transfer and can cause death.