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March 19, 2012

HSI Encouraged by AWBI Steps to Minimize Animal Suffering

Humane Society International/India

  • HSI welcomes this important step towards improving animal welfare in India. Dirk Freder/istock

NEW DELHI, India—Humane Society International praised the Animal Welfare Board of India, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India for calling upon all State Animal Husbandry Departments to follow international guidelines relating to the euthanasia of affected animal populations during disease outbreaks.  The Chairman of the AWBI issued these directions in a letter to the Government of India’s Animal Husbandry Department.

The World Organization for Animal Health, of which India is member, is the intergovernmental authority responsible for improving animal health worldwide. Bringing together expertise from veterinary practitioners around the world, the OIE has developed standards and procedures for the culling of animals during disease outbreaks. The AWBI has directed that these procedures must be followed in order to minimize the affected animals’ distress.

AWBI has also supported Humane Society International’s request that nitrogen and/or other inert gases or barbiturate injection must be used as first choices when euthanizing affected farm animals, as these methods cause the least amount of pain and result in less overall suffering.

“We hope that the governing bodies in India responsible for orchestrating culls during bird flu or other disease outbreaks will take the necessary steps to minimize the suffering of affected animals,” said N.G. Jayasimha, manager of HSI’s factory farming campaign in India. “By mandating more humane approaches in implementing disease control measures, the AWBI is taking an important step toward improving the treatment of farm animals”.


  • Animal Welfare Board of India is a statutory body of Government of India constituted under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal Act, 1960. At present, the AWBI is working under the aegis of Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India.
  • In India, H5N1 bird flu outbreaks were first recorded in 2006, and have continued each year since, reaching a total of 86 by 2012. Millions of India’s chickens and ducks have been culled in efforts to contain and eliminate the virus. India has declared itself free of AI a number of times since 2006—but the virus has continued to resurface.
  • There have been reports of birds being buried alive in an attempt to contain the virus – a clear violation of OIE guidelines.


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Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organizations — backed by 11 million people. For nearly 20 years, HSI has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide — On the Web at hsi.org.