RISHIKESH, India—Four street dogs living in India’s tourist hotspot of Rishikesh, where the Beatles visited in 1968, have been named after the Fab Four as part of a mass spay/neuter and rabies vaccination drive. Lennon, McCartney, Starr and Harrison are among thousands of mainly female street dogs in Rishikesh being sterilized and vaccinated by animal charity Humane Society International/India to humanely reduce the city’s growing street dog population and promote peaceful co-existence between dogs, local residents and the thousands of tourists who flock to the city for yoga retreats and water sports.
Lennon, McCartney, Starr and Harrison have all been sterilized by HSI/India, and their personal stories are helping spread awareness of the program as well as fostering an appreciation of street dogs as individuals. Seven-year-old Harrison lives in the city’s Ganganagar district where community members make sure she regularly receives her favorite foods–biscuits and roti. Now a happy and cared-for dog, Harrison’s life on the street had been tough–all her puppies from multiple litters died, and she also lost her dog companion in a road accident. One-year-old Lennon is a third-generation community dog born in the neighborhood, and McCartney is the only living survivor of a litter of seven who struggled to protect herself from bigger dogs before community carers stepped in. Starr is a young dog who lives with her mother and sister in Awas Vikas Colony where local residents feed her eggs and buns.
Piyush Patel, HSI/India’s senior manager for the Dog Management program, explains: “An estimated 75 million dogs live on the streets across India, with most puppies dying before they reach 12 months old. Without access to veterinary care, dogs can also die of rabies and other diseases, and live with painful and debilitating injuries from being hit by traffic. When the number of dogs exceeds the community’s capacity to care for them, street dogs can also suffer from malnutrition and may even face cruel behavior such as stone throwing, which can be exacerbated by a community’s fear of dog bites and rabies. In Rishikesh we aim to sterilize 80% of female dogs like Lennon, McCartney, Starr and Harrison, because this is the most effective way to control the population growth. We will monitor this approach over the next few years but if successful, this female-focus could shape all animal birth control projects in the future.”
In addition to sterilization and vaccination, the program will also focus on community engagement to ensure public awareness of the program, mitigate human-dog conflict and address dog welfare concerns.
Media contact: Wendy Higgins, director of international media: firstname.lastname@example.org