Street dogs are an integral part of our societies and urban ecosystems. They are sentient beings who have enriched our lives with their companionship for many generations, and their right to a life free of pain is endorsed by the Indian Constitution.
However, human-dog conflict has been on the rise in the country for decades. Coupled with irresponsible waste disposal, dumping of meat on streets by illegal meat shops and improperly executed population control measures, street-dogs have increased in numbers over the years. Additionally, some sections of the press have created a biased narrative that has planted seeds of ignorance, and fuelled fear in the minds of the public. All of the above factors have played a role in the displacement of dogs from their territories and unethical and cruel killing of dogs – which are in clear violation of the Supreme Court orders and Animal Birth Control (Dogs) Rules, 2001.
Another aspect central to human-dog conflict is rabies. It is a fatal disease, and leads to around 20,000 deaths annually in India.This disease disproportionately affects vulnerable populations and involves huge social, political and health costs for our society – harming both humans and animals. However, it is a 100% preventable disease.
Misinformation about the disease, lack of political will and resource unavailability have heightened the fear of this disease, and led to an irrational fear of dogs. To tackle the problem of rabies, governments and the public have historically resorted to killing of dogs. Apart from being inhumane and illegal, such myopic solutions are ineffective, and have not resolved the problem of rabies or dog-bites.
Instead, a holistic solution is the need of the hour. Systems and attitudes towards the problem need to be changed. Only then can we dream of a society where humans and dogs are safe.
FIAPO believes that the relationship between humans and dogs can be a harmonious one, based on scientifically proven, legally sanctioned, and socially relevant conflict management strategies. Rabies FreeIndia is FIAPO’s nation-wide dog-bite and rabies prevention campaign. It is a holistic national campaign that aims to create a dog-bite and rabies-free society through a multidimensional approach.
Our goal is to create an inter-sectoral model for rabies elimination, involving various government departments, NGOs and communities in the fields of human and animal health – as per the ‘One Health’ approach. ‘One Health’ is an interdisciplinary framework for physicians, veterinarians and other stakeholders to come together and jointly address the problem. In pursuance of this, FIAPO supports the ‘End Rabies Now’ initiative which uses the One Health approach.
Aligned with World Health Organization’s (WHO) Joint Statement ‘Educate, Vaccinate and Eliminate: Achieving zero human deaths from dog-transmitted rabies by 2030’, FIAPO is a part of the supporting organisations for ‘End Rabies Now’.
More specifically, FIAPO aims to bring about necessary interventions that will ensure that India, as a SAARC member, keeps up its commitments to the ‘SAARC Roadmap for Rabies Control’– which seeks to eliminate rabies by 2020.
As mandated by WHO, FIAPO aims to facilitate human-dog conflictmanagement through the following:
- Animal health component:
- Animal Birth Control (ABC) for dogs
- Anti-Rabies Vaccination (ARV) for dogs
- Responsible pet ownership
- Human health component:
- Education on dog-bite and rabies prevention
- Counselling of dog-bite victims
- Easily accessible and affordable Post-rabies Prophylaxis (PEP)
- Training of professionals – doctors, counsellors, etc.
- Intersectoral approach:
- Community engagement for vaccination, sterilization and education
- Engagement with different concerned government authorities under the ‘One Health’ model
Rabies Free Kerala:
Rabies Free India began as a pilot in Kerala. Rabies Free Kerala, as the pilot was called, worked with state government and local bodies to address the explosive conflict between people and street dogs. Apart from pushing for consistent ABC in all districts, it has been successful in securing the support of the Education, Health, Animal Husbandry departments’ support in reducing people’s fear of dogs.
As a result of this, RFK has
- helped set up the country’s first counseling centres for dog bite victims
- began education to school children on dog bite prevention
- is creating local capacity in government hospitals and schools to make the above two sustainable and long term practices
- Rabies Free Kerala is at different stages of lobbying the state government for the formation of ABC monitoring committee and addressing waste management which is directly related to street dog population and aggression.
- FIAPO’s partner in this project is People for Animals (PFA), Trivandrum
Rabies Free Karnataka:
- FIAPO’s partner in this project is Animal Care Trust (ACT), Mangalore.
- Rabies Free Karnatakaconvinced the education department in Mangalore to include education onrabies and dog-bite prevention in the district, which is close to 1000 schools.
- Following RFKerala, Rabies Free Karnataka has also got the district Health Departmenton board for setting up a counseling center for dog-bite victims in the biggest district hospital.
- Rabies Free Karnataka is working with the Animal Husbandry department to secure veterinary expertise for the education programmes in the district.
• Minister for Local Administration, Government of Kerala-Dr. K.T.Jaleel
• Malyinkeezhu Panchayat for ABC-ARV drives
• Neyyatinkara Panchayat for ABC-ARV drives
• Kerala Government Veterinary Ofﬁcers’ Association (KGVOA) for ABC-ARV
• 12 local orgaisations for public engagement on dog bite prevention across the state
• Suchitwa Kerala Mission and Indian Veterinary Association (IVA)
• Indian Veterinary Association (IVA) for school outreach
With overwhelming positive response from all over the state, the media has also supported us with positive coverage of the campaign.
While we are undertaking determined efforts across the state to vaccinate dogs with qualified personnel, FIAPO appeals to you to support the mammoth task of transforming the outlook of people towards street dogs.
If you’re in Kerala, join us as an NGO, or an individual activist, or recommend someone you know to conduct weekly ARV and dog-bite prevention education drives.
For more info, write to us at email@example.com