For many years the street dogs of Jaipur were regularly poisoned with strychnine by the municipality. As some street dogs carried rabies, it was thought that this was the most effective way of controlling the spread of rabies. However, over many years of poisoning rabies was not eliminated, and the street dogs rapidly bred again after poisoning bouts. Many puppies died in the streets from malnutrition, road accidents and disease.
In 1993 HIS was asked by World Society for the Protection of Animals to test the Guidelines for Dog Population Management it had drawn up with the World Health Organisation. HIS prepared a plan which WSPA then agreed to fund. The HIS ABC Programme is funded by grants from the
Animal Welfare Board of India.
The purpose of the HIS ABC programme is to create a friendly, stable, rabies-free street dog population. The street dogs cannot be eliminated from the city of Jaipur unless the rubbish on which they feed is also eliminated. For many centuries they have lived in symbiosis with humans, filling a biological niche.
About 70 Jaipur street dogs per week are humanely caught, vaccinated, sterilised, identified with ear mark and tattoo, and, after a full recovery, returned to the place from which they were captured on the street. Adult males are caught for rabies vaccination only. To date over 115,000 dogs have passed through the programme. The number of human rabies cases in Jaipur has reduced to around zero, and the number of human dog bites reduced from 7.2 per thousand of the population to 2.7 per thousand. We concentrate our ABC sterilisation efforts on females since these are the dogs responsible for population growth. However, recognising that programme based around bitches could only ever vaccinate 50% of the dog population we catch, rabies vaccinate and mark male street dogs. Around 3,100 dogs are sterilised and vaccinated each year, another 4 to 5,000 are vaccinated.
The street dogs are no longer burdened with mange, venereal cancers, malnutrition, maggot-infested wounds, and injuries from accidents. Most people in Jaipur accept the presence of the street dogs, knowing they are now safe and healthy. The programme has increased the understanding of the biology of street dog populations, and the effects of ABC programmes on these populations.
Rabies is one of the most dangerous and feared zoonotic diseases. The main vector of rabies is the dog (95% of human cases are caused by the bite of a rabid dog). Every year approximately 50,000 people die worldwide due to rabies and half of these deaths occur in India.
As a part of the ABC in Jaipur HIS has been continuously collecting data on the effects of the programme. This data collection effort has been supported by WSPA and the Humane Society International, and has produced the most comprehensive data on street dog biology and the effects of an ABC programme anywhere.
Help in Suffering believes that there have been no cases of human rabies arising in the city since 2002.
We know more than 80% of female dogs are now sterilised and vaccinated against rabies. More than 77% of the entire street dog population has been vaccinated against rabies. Both these figures are above those cited as necessary to control the population and rabies transmission.
Visitors to Jaipur report the street dogs here look extremely healthy and friendly, and that this is in sharp contrast with other cities and towns where ABC programmes are not in operation.
The programme was established to collect data on the effects of ABC work. We put a lot of effort into collection of information about the programme. All the ABC records have been entered into a specially designed database (thanks to Mrs and the late Dr John Holt). Because of the close monitoring of the programme we have:
-Assisted the Animal Welfare Board of India in producing its standard operating procedures for ABC programmes.
-Participated and shared knowledge in conferences and workshops of the FAO, Commonwealth Veterinary Association, Humane Society Expo, Association for the Prevention and Control of Rabies in India, and other forums.
-Shown ABC work will reduce the street dog population by at least 50%; dramatically reduce human rabies cases; reduce human dog bites by 5-600 cases per month; improve the health of all the street dogs; that killing dogs is the worst method of population control.
-Demonstrated novel population surveying techniques.