VADODARA, India—Humane Society International/India and Vadodara Municipal Corporation are celebrating the success of sterilizing 86% of the city’s street dog population, the highest sterilization rate ever achieved in any Indian city. The success comes as HSI/India officially hands over its street dog management program to the Vadodara authorities. HSI/India hopes that Vadodara becomes a model for other cities in India to follow to create a harmonious co-existence between street dogs and local communities.
HSI/India and VMC have worked together to spay, neuter and rabies vaccinate approximately 44,000 street dogs across the city since 2017, when they launched the sterilization program to alleviate animal suffering, reduce dog bites and decrease human-dog conflict. Humane surgeries have been combined with community engagement and awareness drives.
The program in Vadodara is part of HSI/India’s wider dog management program which provides a practical, sustainable and humane solution to India’s street dog population challenge. 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 2014, HSI/India estimates that 17% of dogs in Vadodara were sterilized. A total of 23,696 dogs have since been sterilized, bringing the total percentage of community dogs sterilized to 86% in Gujarat’s second largest city.
“HSI/India is very proud to have been able to deliver a successful street dog management program in Vadodara. Effective planning, zero compromise in protocol and standard operating procedures being followed every day in the last five years have enabled us to achieve this target,” says Dr. Sanjay Ahir, Vadodara dog project manager at HSI/India.
Multiple dog population surveys, efficient usage of technology and innovation, in addition to work with the local community, also contributed to the success of this program.
“Meaningful and productive community engagement is central to any street dog welfare program,” says Parul Dholakia, assistant manager, community engagement program at HSI/India. In Vadodara, the community engagement methods included attending to city-wide, dog-related complaints, holding
workshops on dog behavior to familiarize residents with animal birth control and anti-rabies vaccination processes, legal measures regarding street dog welfare, volunteer outreach and first-aid workshops.
“Over time, we witnessed a drop in requests to relocate or remove dogs. This, I would say, is a good indicator of efforts reaping fruits,” says Dholakia.
The animal protection organization will now hand over the program to the VMC, whilst continuing the community engagement program. A closing celebratory event followed by an award ceremony will be attended by officers from the VMC, Vadodara Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, active community volunteers, dog feeders and residents.
“Post this milestone, we believe we are at a stage to do a lot more to make Vadodara a smart city for both people and street dogs,” says Dr. Vijay Panchal, market superintendent of VMC. “HSI/India has been a great partner and we hope to continue doing pioneering work to develop a model for other cities in India.”
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