Stop stray dog culls, start ABC/ARV in Telangana, India!

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According to the WHO, the only scientific, effective and sustainable solution to eliminate rabies is through mass dog vaccination and sterilization. Using ABC/ARV (Animal Birth Control / Anti Rabies Vaccination), the Western world almost eradicated rabies. The last case of canine rabies in the UK was in 1902! In just 4 years, Mission Rabies UK, eliminated human deaths due to canine rabies in 2018 in Goa. Why is then the government of Telangana resorting to this mindless, barbaric, unscientific method of culling when people, especially children continue to die of rabies?

Stray dog culls are in contempt of the Supreme Court order in India. Under section 11 of PCA act 1960 and section 429 of IPC, killing of stray dogs by any local authority is unlawful. Stray dogs are being annihilated as a knee-jerk reaction to appease ignorant mobs without any solid proof of dog bites or prior quarantine measures to confirm rabies.

The largest stray dog cull in Telangana has been taking place under the veil of ABC in the GHMC animal shelters in Hyderabad. At least a hundred dogs are being killed here every day since 2002! They violate rule 3 of 2011 ABC (dog) rules of volunteer supervision and participation of the ABC process, continue with impunity while infringing on the AWBI SOP as well as PCA act of 1960. On the whole, effective ABC/ARV programs are rare in Telangana.

A fairly insidious phenomenon of illegal dog breeders is also plaguing Telangana. This is adding to the disease burden due to a high dog abandonment rate. It is believed that about 30 to 40% of rabies are due to confined dogs. It makes absolutely no sense therefore, to encourage illegal dog breeders on the one hand while culling stray dogs on the other.

Stray animal culls have become the norm in Telangana. Violence towards animals is gradually eroding the moral fibre of our communities. If we are to be seen as a progressive and compassionate nation, we, as Indian citizens must take a deep look into our souls and accept only proven, humane methods.

It is a well known fact that about 50% of rabies victims are children. What can be more important to the Telangana Government than the lives of its innocent children?

1. With sustained engagement of government officials & politicians, rabies can be  eradicated
2. Start robust ABC / ARV programs all over Telangana
3. Increase transparency & accountability – CCTVs, volunteer access, monitoring committees in all animal ABC centers
4. Dedicated helplines in each district to help capture suspected animals with rabies
5. Public education and participation is critical for success
6. Create widely available post-dog bite treatment centres
7. The Police department to crack down on dog culls and illegal breeders
8. Declare rabies a notifiable disease

Recipients: PS MAUD Sri. Arvind Kumar IAS, PS AH Sri. S.K. Sultania IAS, Police Department, GHMC Commissioner Sri. Dana Kishore IAS

Abbreviations: IPC – Indian Penal Code, PCA – Prevention of Cruelty towards Animals, GHMC – Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, MAUD – Municipal Administration & Urban Development, AWBI - Animal Welfare Board of India, SOP – Standard Operating Procedure, PS – Principal Secretary. AH -Animal husbandry