Creating co-existence between humans and street dogs
by Uma Biswas
The aim of Humane Society International (HSI) is to save street dogs from cruelty and disasters. The society comes forward to helping the helpless stray animals during the COVID-19 crisis and nationwide lockdown. Routine feeding drive has been carried to ensure that the homeless furry friends don’t starve.
Humane Society International (HSI), a not for profit animal protection organization, is the international division of The Humane Society of the United States. Founded in 1991, HSI has expanded the HSUS's activities in more than 50 countries. HSI aims to save street dogs, respond to disasters and cruelty cases, protect wild animals from abuse, protect marine creatures, fight against dog meat trading and breed animals in factories and stop lab testing on animals through policy making, human education, field work and capacity building of the countries.
In India, the fear of rabies that emerged from cases of millions of dog bites grew so intense that people started culling, burning and poisoning of dogs. Increase in dog population has become a concern for both animal welfare and public health safety. That’s why it’s vital to work towards a safer environment for street dogs and people, and HSI/India runs a holistic dog management programme, working on the population management of street dogs and bringing in the communities to participate in issues concerning their street dogs.
Dog management programme
HSI/India has been implementing a mass sterilisation and anti-rabies vaccination project in Dehradun and Nainital (Uttarakhand), Vadodara (Gujarat), Dindigul (Tamil Nadu) and Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh). Across all these cities, Animal Birth Control project is being implemented in collaboration with the state governments to balance street dog population and eliminate rabies. HSI/India has also conducted a week long spay/neuter camps for street dogs on World Rabies Day at all the locations and two more camps in Jamnagar. Since its work began in 2013 in India, HSI-India has sterilised and vaccinated over 150,000 dogs across many cities of India.
Abhay Sankalp programme
Abhay Sankalp, a community engagement programme is being carried out in Dehradun, Vadodara and Jamnagar (Gujarat) and Lucknow. It has been able to reach 491 societies within a year. It works with societies across the city to figure out concerns associated with dogs and emphasises on some established ways to create a safe and pleasant environment by encouraging people to adopt more scientific and humane ways to deal with dogs in the neighborhood. It has also conducted 28 dog behaviour workshops for adults and children, installed feeding and water containers in 136 societies, facilitated to sterilize and vaccinate and collared street dogs in all societies and 331 volunteers are registered with the programme.
Care during COVID-19
During the nationwide lockdown, the street dogs had been also adversely affected as it had vanished all their sources of food and water, and refrained people who normally used to feed them. Thus, since the lockdown 1.0, HSI/India has been carrying out a feeding drive for street dogs in Vadodara, Jamnagar, Lucknow, Dehradun and Dindigul to ensure that they don’t starve. They go to the construction sites, highways, market places, and other such areas which are not covered by community feeders and the government. Till now, overall 49,000 meals have been served to the street dogs by HSI/India across these cities.
Each morning by 6 am, the teams leave with food, water, first aid kit and medicines and cover 130 locations to feed over 1200 street dogs. The life threatening complaints for street dogs and communities are also being responded by the dog management team. They keep a track of the data using an online mobile application developed by HSI/India.
Also through its Abhay Sankalp programme, HSI/India is in touch with 341community feeders and volunteers and total 19,017 animals have been served by them with HSI/India’s contribution so far. HSI/India has also circulated a form to its 491 Abhay Sankalp signed up societies who want to help with feeding, food and funds and has received over 279 responses from people showing that people are kind, generous and despite all their challenges have a willingness to help, donate, feed animals in during the COVID-19 crisis.