The Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) has started a pilot project in cities and neighboring rural areas for introducing a new anti-rabies oral bait vaccine that will be fed to dogs.
Every year more than 70,000 stray and community dogs are being sterilized in India, says AWBI. The stray and community dog population in the country is estimated at nearly 20 million.
Headquartered in Chennai, AWBI is the only organization engaged in a nation-wide rabies control programme, helping municipalities reduce the incidents by cooperating in the WHO recommended Animal Birth Control programme.
"One of the major problems in rabies control is immunization of strays," says Maj Gen (retd) R.M. Kharb, the new chairman of AWBI.
Indians do not have the expertise to catch animals, nor the infrastructure to house them.
The oral vaccine is being tried in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Pune, Hyderabad, Kalimpong and in Bangalore (where dogs are being impounded cruelly without any infrastructure to support internment).
WHO expert Francois-Xavier Meslin launched the pilot project in India this February.
The union ministries of forest & environment and agriculture are jointly supporting the programme.
The government has also undertaken a very ambitious programme in 2007 to Catch-Neuter-Vaccinate and Release (CNVR) 45,000 strays, in each of the five pilot-project cities, which include Delhi and Chennai.