Animal welfare organisations in Goa, in association with the Animal Welfare Board of India, Worldwide Veterinary Service and Dogs Trust, launched Mission Rabies – an all-India, mass canine vaccination programme – in Goa on 1st September 2013.
The target was to vaccinate 50,000 dogs in 30 days in the states of Goa, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Assam. The programme culminated in Assam on World Rabies Day – 28th September, 2013.
Over a third of the reported human cases of rabies in the world occur in India. Rabies is not a notifiable disease in many states of the country. Dog bites are most often the cause of rabies. The majority of the people who die of rabies are from the poorer and marginal communities. Due to fear of the disease, thousands of dogs have been indiscriminately and inhumanely killed every year across India, without bringing any solution to the problem of rabies.
The World Health Organisation states that mass canine vaccination programmes are most effective measures of controlling rabies in both dogs and humans. Mission Rabies will not only kick start a three-year campaign of sustained vaccination, targeting a total of 2 million dogs in India, but also provide surgical training for long-term implementation of the Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme to tackle the problem of over population of street dogs.
The project will also set up the country’s first India National Rabies Network, supplying cheap effective vaccines nationwide and recording their usage, so that mapping of vaccination coverage across India will become a reality. Supported by a highly equipped and customized Mercedes Zetros 6×6, the world’s most high-tech, all-terrain, self-sufficient mobile veterinary hospital vehicle, the Mission Rabies team comprising veterinarians, animal handlers and volunteers from India and overseas, will visit check points across the country, carrying out training and essential outreach services to improve both animal and human welfare.
The implementation of the programme in Goa will be in selected municipalities and panchayats of North Goa district in the first week of September and in South Goa district in the third week of September.
The co-ordinator of Mission Rabies for Goa is Dr. Astrid Almeida, Veterinary Director of International Animal Rescue.
As the Mission Rabies programme also targets pet dogs, especially the local mixed-breeds (gavnti) which rarely stay within compound walls and are generally not vaccinated, the municipal councils and village panchayats (local assemblies) selected for the programme have been requested to conduct a census of pet dogs in their areas, so that both strays and pet dogs can be vaccinated in the target areas.
Worldwide Veterinary Service and Dogs Trust, who are the sponsors of the programme, are the largest dog welfare charities in the UK, with India offices in Ooty, Tamil Nadu.
~ Thanks to Norma Alvares, Member of the Animal Welfare Board of India and People for Animals, Goa, for allowing us to re-print this news.
Update from Luke Gamble on October 3:
Over 60,000 dogs vaccinated really is a phenomenal result and down to the guidance and immense support of the Animal Welfare Board of India, the leadership of the MR President Dr Chinny Krishna, an incredible team of sponsors and supporters, and the most amazing volunteers and local partner organisations on the ground who put hearts and souls into making it happen. Averaging over 2,000 dogs a day being caught, marked and vaccinated exceeded expectation and we are all very happy with the figures.
The general goodwill from everyone positively involved and associated with the project has been completely uplifting and inspiring – and this has fed through to all the volunteers and teams we had working on the ground over the last month. The Indian NGO’s who led the project in the respective regions were fantastic. Blue Cross, IPAN, the PFA charities amongst others really drove forward the ideals and ambitions of what MR is all about and there is a feeling we now have great foundations to not only take forward the fight against rabies, but also champion the welfare of the street dogs and the wellbeing of the communities in all the areas we worked.
Things will be moving fairly swiftly now as we assimilate all the data, outline all the plans and drive forward with the next stage of the project. Our first surgical training course has already begun with JBF in Guwahati but the summaries of the first 30 days in terms of numbers of dogs vaccinated, are outlined below for your interest:
Checkpoint Breakdown Totals:
All 5 of the suspected rabid dogs we picked up and tested came back positive from the labs.
One very positive aspect of the project was that under the Indian NGOs with which we worked, there were international guests from over 14 different countries involved. The sense of unity, drawn together and united in the name of animal welfare, was fantastic. India will now lead the way in rabies control models and show the world what really can be done. It is a huge privilege to be a part of this project.
We now have an incredible database – charting GPS locations of each dog vaccinated, the sex of every animal, age (over or under three months), whether it had a neutering mark or not, if the animal was free roaming or owner presented and also if we had to administer other treatments to treat certain conditions. We also have a proper and accurate record of incidence of disease amongst the populations of street dogs we targeted. The use of this data will give us a unique insight and mapping as to the demographic of street dogs in locations across ten states of India and sets a firm foundation on which we can build and drive forward the project.
With regards the post vaccination surveys, we set a clear target of 70% in every ward we worked. This was achieved in many and we will look at all this as the data gets processed.
We look forward to extending Mission Rabies and the India National Rabies Network – details of which will shortly follow. For further details of the project please have a look at www.missionrabies.in
Luke Gamble MRCVS. CEO Mission Rabies / WVS
Please visit www.missionrabies.in and look at the photo gallery. Below is the Mission Rabies team:
British bodies supporting Mission Rabies include the Dogs’ Trust, University of Bristol and Mayhew International.
Here’s a video of the operation, sent by India Project for Animals and Nature in Tamil Nadu :