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August 19, 2010

First Dog Census Takes Place

Animals counted in Bodakdev ward, Ahmedabad, India

Humane Society International/India

  • Street dogs are everywhere in India.

by Khushboo Vyas

On August 9, 2010, HSI began conducting the first-ever dog census in Ahmedabad, India. HSI is working with Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) to complete the survey free of charge. The team started with the Bodakdev ward, the first among 16 wards selected for the counting exercise.

Getting started

Sixteen out of 64 municipal wards were chosen at random because it is simply not possible to count every dog within city limits. A team of eight will focus on one ward at a time and a census of each will be taken over three days. The team will visit different areas and roads during early morning and late-night hours.

Information is key

AMC has detailed information on all 64 wards, including human population, street length, the garbage disposal system for that area, and other details. Dry runs are currently being held to iron out issues such as map reading, understanding ward limits, switching between counting on motor bikes versus on foot, dealing with inclement weather and late sunrise, and getting used to varied street conditions, including major roads, walled city areas, commercial streets and highly congested residential areas.

Once the dog counting exercise concludes, census leaders will be able to relate the data of dog populations to other factors in individual wards for analysis, and suggest suitable remedial measures. HSI believes that the dog census is an important part of taking a strong and sensible approach to animal birth control in the city.

Trained and ready

The eight surveyors who will do the counts took part in HSI's training program, taught by Dr. Jack Reece, our partner in India. They come from diverse backgrounds and also have “day jobs.” Dr. Reece conducted sessions with the team both in the classroom and on the road; then Dr. Sunil Chawla, who is leading the project, took the team out for their first two days of work.

The surveyors throughout the census will categorize the dogs as they mark them down, including male, female, puppy, sterilized dogs with their ear notched, and lactating females.

Khushboo Vyas is Online Communications Producer for HSI India.