Visakha Society for Protection and Care of Animals
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Animal Birth Control (ABC) - Dogs

Stray or community dogs are a problem all over India.  Stray and feral cats are not very numerous due to competition for food sources from the dogs and other animals such as  monkeys.   The authorities have been cruelly killing dogs for over 100 years and this inhumane system has brought much suffering with poor results.  In the 1990’s the ABC (Animal Birth Control or catch/spay/neuter/vaccinate and release) method was gradually adopted first in the cities of India.  While bringing down the number of street dogs in a humane manner the number of cases of human rabies also dramatically declined.   

PuppiesThe WHO at its Fourth International Symposium on Rabies Control in Asia stated: “Elimination of rabies in humans requires control of rabies in dogs” and “Rabies elimination by vaccination of the dog population is the most cost-beneficial strategy."  It has also been repeatedly stressed that once the threshold figure of 70% of a dog population being vaccinated is reached, the propagation of rabies is virtually halted. 70% is also the figure at which stage ABC reaches its “critical mass”.  An aggressive ABC program not only steeply reduces rabies; it also reduces the number of street dogs. Combined with an effective garbage control system the results are dramatically visible.

Visakhapatnam saga

In November 1996 VSPCA won a major victory in the Andhra Pradesh court to stop the gruesome and painful killing of dogs (for graphic photos of the previous very cruel methods scroll down to the end of this report).   They had brutally killed 72,000 dogs in this manner and other cruel ways for 5 years.  VSPCA convinced the court that sterilization and immunization was the only sane option for reducing the street dog population while at the same time bringing down the rabies incidences. 

Catching dogs for ABC.

VSPCA staff catching community dogs for ABC.

But it has been a continuing fight to uphold the Dog Rules and protect the street dogs’ very right to exist.  The Municipality tries through illegal methods to sabotage the program with all kind of pressure while ignoring scientific evidence that the ABC project does indeed work.

VSPCA goes out on dangerous nighttime patrols to prevent the dog killing, has constant meetings with officials to get them to uphold the law, and uses lawyers and writ petitions to protect the dogs legal right to life according to the animal welfare laws of India.

VSPCA has realized the sterilization of over 23,000 dogs within the city limits going for a target of 70% to 80% sterilization.  (The remaining dogs are in hard to reach areas). The street dogs who are sterilized and returned to their communities are extremely friendly, docile and absolutely charming.  Even though these dogs may not be “owned” by an individual, they may be fed regularly, sleep in the same place every night, and respond to and protect the people in their immediate community.  They are an asset to Indian neighborhood life.

The number of human and dog rabies cases per year have steadily gone down through implementation of ABC.  And any that occur are on the city outskirt but will be taken care of once VSPCA has funds to revaccinate all the dogs.  Below is an idea of how complaints towards the street dogs have lessened through adoption of ABC programs.   Complaints investigated by us indicate that the street dogs have been provoked into their ill behavior by the public but all these complaints are coming down nonetheless: 

Dog bites (provoked biting) 60% to 2%
Dogs chasing people on bikes, etc. 10% to 3%
Groups of dogs 10% to 5%
Unprovoked biting 20% to 2%

(Unprovoked biting means the dog is ferocious and something is wrong with him or her and needs to be put down.)

Our serious cash flow problem

Catching dogs for ABC.

Sarada Buddhiraju, Shelter Manager.

Under Clause II IV of the Dog Rules 2001 it is stated that the local authorities need to reimburse VSPCA on a weekly basis per dog and give an additional Rs. 1700 (or USD $400) per month for the vehicle and driver.  When they actually do reimburse us within any timely schedule it is still not enough to cover our expenses.  We try to garner support from anywhere available as our expenses per dog are now Rs. 500 per dog (or USD $10) inclusive of all the best post operative care and feed.

Instead of supporting us the Municipality is always working against our humane and effective methods.  But now with our awareness campaigns we are winning the battle by convincing the public that no-kill is the effective and compassionate solution.

Rural extension

Our city of Visakha has recently expanded and now the ABC program has to spread out to cover a territory behind a radius of 30 kms.  Now we are reaching out nearer to the areas we covered doing our tsunami and Fall ’05 flood emergency outreach.  The formation of Greater Visakha has made our challenges steep once again similar to what we faced when we first began VSPCA and the ABC program.

Catching dogs for ABC.

Rural ABC humane dog catching.

However, we are happy to have this challenge because the Municipality is now officially responsible within these expanded areas.  And they have the obligation to help us achieve sterilization for another 20,000 dogs in addition to helping 5000 more cattle and hundreds of pigs.

Our hope for the cattle and pigs that the outreach teams encounter is to try to remove them from harm and stem the many serious diseases that threaten them.  And the Municipality has the obligation of handing the stray cattle over to us instead of sending them to slaughter.  Then we try to find the cattle good homes with responsible and compassionate farm families.  

Our hope for the dogs lies in improving the mobile ABC clinics. 

New methods of ABC:  RESQ - Release by Efficient, Sure, Quick Procedure

Catching dogs for ABC.

At the clinic, visiting expert vet Dr. Bosmat Gal in surgery, assisted by Dr. Srinivas.

VSPCA is now adopting this technique for ABC in the field.  We have coined this phrase from our work during the tsunami and severe flooding in the fall of ’05 in Andhra Pradesh.  Our work of conducting ABC all over the state of Andhra Pradesh has already begun with a pilot project in Pulivendla, the Chief Minister’s constituency.  After full assessment our ABC work will be implemented in the entire state and we are well equipped to deal with this situation in the three major identified districts.

This is indeed a dream come true for us and the dogs of Andhra Pradesh which can only continue with everyone pitching in to help.  With your kind support we hope to achieve every success for the sake of the peace loving sweet community dogs. 

Michael Bannasch, RVT, Coordinator of the Shelter Medicine Program University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine; came to VSPCA to bring new protocols and advanced equipment to substantially improve our ABC program.  He wrote the following after his visit: 

“I will never forget the tears that Sarada, the lead technician, shed when we greeted the truck full of street dogs arriving to the shelter for surgery.  When I asked her why she was crying, she explained that these dogs were once marked for death by electrocution.  Now, almost every time she greets the truck, she has to hold back tears of joy that come from knowing that they are saving their lives.

Warning:  Graphic and shocking photos below taken by VSPCA.

We won’t let this happen in our jurisdiction again and plan to prevent it elsewhere in our state.  (Dogs captured and electrocuted by running water over them and using electricity.)

Dogs killed by electrocution Dogs killed by electroctuion