Animal Birth Control (ABC) – Dogs

Animal Birth Control (ABC) – Dogs

An update on our very successful ABC project

Since we won the historic court case against the municipality to stop killing of dogs and adopt the Animal Birth Control program in February 1998, we have covered more than 78,000 dogs both in the old city and extended areas, despite several obstacles to have a continuous program that will give a decisive result with immediate effect.

The year 2013 has been a victorious and prideful year for the VSPCA, as we achieved ZERO RABIES in our area and we entered into the third year of being categorized as incident-free rabies area. With the successful operation of an average of 20 dogs per day, we covered more than 8000 dogs this year.

We always had the aim of cruelty-free methods of birth control unlike the authorities cruelly killing dogs for the past several years and the system has always generated poor results. We hope to cover the surrounding areas and put the base in the rural area where our Kindness Farm will be ready with the facility for a systematic full-time ABC program in the villages.

Started with just 10km of area, we have now stretched out to 400km in Visakhapatnam and also covering the surrounding villages in a 30km radius.

Awareness Campaign

Since the day we began this program we have included this not only in the MOU but also in every component of the programme because it is necessary that unless the public is made sensitive to the project the authenticity and the seriousness to the programme will not be understood and we on our own financial support have printed worthwhile materials and the distribution made to areas where the programme is being done. This has brought a lot of awareness among the public and also significantly a lot of protection and support for the dogs especially those covered under this programme. To those who do not like dogs on the street whether operated or non operated for them awareness is the biggest weapon to convince them. Hence, our strategy as awareness programme is uppermost on the execution of this project and the awareness is made to every class of the citizen living in the area. Through this awareness and education programmes, many specious lives are saved because they will be aware of the precaution and the prevention that would require to be done at the time and moment of the happening.

Read the brochure we distributed to create awareness among local people

Our Success Strategy

We always believe in having a multipronged plan for achieving the desired results with the budget and within the stipulated time and strategies includes:

  • Conducting the programme in small pockets.
  • Selecting the troublesome areas on our priority.
  • Targeting the females 100% in the first 3-year phase after which the ratio is 80% female to 20% male.
  • Revaccination after the 3rd year.
  • Comprehensive awareness programme.
  • Targeting the Corporation and the Institutional areas separately in their respective workplace and housing colonies.
  • Providing a strict monitoring team.
  • To provide a suitable facility for long term treatment against fatal diseases and severe cases of injuries.
  • Providing the best asepsis procedure with Key Button Hole Surgery System.
  • Most important we use the gas anaesthesia.
  • Dogs that are operated and have put on abnormal weight and those who suffer from renal problem and blindness; we have provided a special facility.
  • Arrangement with Municipality to provide vaccination to the humans.
  • Vaccination against diseases like distempered and Parbo as per the requirement.

Dogs in our clinic undergoing operations


Revaccination is carried out in those areas that have completed more than 3 years. It is said that the dog’s lifespan is average 3 years, however, we dispel this information with our knowledge gained in the field and unless the Municipality adheres to shortcut methods the dogs certainly have a longer and better life.

However, our reason for adopting the revaccination programme is to avoid any single incident of rabies cases in the dogs and in humans.

Revaccination also includes strong confidence among the people and more in the slum areas where they do not take any vaccination. We have conducted so far 3 revaccination camps covering 18000 dogs and we intend to follow this up with more selected required areas.

Our expert dog-catching team handling dogs humanely

Developing Community Dogs and Stopping Human-Dog Conflicts

Since the past 5 years, we have been working with Corporate and Defense Institutions for the conduction of ABC in their respective campus areas and working places in large Corporate Institutions.

Dealing separately with each of them in their respective area along with awareness to their children and families has brought down drastically avoidable cruelty to the dogs and respect to the street dogs of the area. As it is difficult to stop dogs from entering into these areas hence, entering with the separate MOU with these institutions and working under the Social Welfare Scheme, instead of engaging with Municipality who do not adopt scientific method has shown good results.

Today, we deal with the Naval establishment and the Visakha Steel Plant area who cover more than half of the city. The process is on with other Corporate.

Based on this success, Corporates from other States are also in negotiations to adopt this programme as the earlier methods of displacing the dogs have failed. This kind of systematic breakdown of areas coupled with aggressive awareness programme in the respective colonies and working areas brings in a complete understanding of the programme and thereby creating a relationship between the people residing and working and the floating dogs. They will bring respect to the dogs because the dogs become a part of their community. It needs to be emphasized that dogs from the streets cannot be eradicated therefore, it is important to have dogs that have undergone the ABC discipline. This is how we have worked our way and proven a success story in these Corporate places. This is now spreading among the other corporations who have understood that by removing dogs and displacing them has only created more havoc to the people. Here is a complete understanding of where the conflict between the animal and humans is resolved peacefully.


The ABC programme in order to be successful requires nonstop surgeries until 70% of the population are covered but more often than not this is not possible because of financial limitations. The flow of cash needs to be worked out before the programme is begun. This is the single most hindrance to the programme.

The local authority and all the other stakeholders such as Municipality and Animal Husbandry must be sensitized to the programme which is laid down under the Dog Rule 2001, the standard operating procedure set by Animal Welfare Board of India, Chennai, India (Union Ministry of Environment, New Delhi).

The local authority i.e. the Municipality always tries to engage in short cut methods in the name of complaints. The complaints have changed from dog bites to a dog barking in the night, spoiling the terrace and the facility, which complaints are not technically serious to be considered. More often than not the lower officials of Municipality indulge in back door activities.

Future Endeavours

After entering the 3rd year of Zero Rabies in this Greater Visakha Municipal Corporation (GVMC) area our strategy is to spread the good work into the rural areas where the maximum killings are happening because of the ignorance and lack of financial support.

The people in rural areas are ignorant of human vaccinations and non-regular supply in the Public Health Centers. We have all plans prepared to begin the work in a more comprehensive manner in rural areas.

The GVMC has spread recently to include two more Municipality Corporations and 32 Panchayats which means an addition of approximately 40, 000 dogs that need to be addressed. Our focus will be for the coming year to work hard in these areas.

However, our team will continue to monitor any illegal activities by anyone including the municipal workers and also the team will continue to pick dogs for operation in the areas already covered. Our aim is also to start working in an area that surrounds the city.

VSPCA Statistical Data for ABC Programme

1998-1999 94
1999-2000 1877
2000-2001 1625
2001-2002 5551
2002-2003 3865
2003-2004 2105
2004-2005 2219
2005-2006 4130
2006-2007 5175
2007-2008 10000
2008-2009 10000
2009-2010 8210
2010-2011 3884
2011-2012 1114
2012-2013 8617
2013-2014 10,000
Total 78,466

Stray or community dogs are a problem all over India.  Stray and feral cats are not very numerous due to competition for food sources from the dogs and other animals such as monkeys.   The authorities have been cruelly killing dogs for over 100 years and this inhumane system has brought much suffering with poor results.  In the 1990s the ABC (Animal Birth Control or catch/spay/neuter/vaccinate and release) method was gradually adopted first in the cities of India.  While bringing down the number of street dogs in a humane manner the number of cases of human rabies also dramatically declined.

The WHO at its Fourth International Symposium on Rabies Control in Asia stated: “Elimination of rabies in humans requires control of rabies in dogs” and “Rabies elimination by vaccination of the dog population is the most cost-beneficial strategy.”  It has also been repeatedly stressed that once the threshold figure of 70% of a dog population being vaccinated is reached, the propagation of rabies is virtually halted. 70% is also the figure at which stage ABC reaches its “critical mass”.  An aggressive ABC program not only steeply reduces rabies; it also reduces the number of street dogs. Combined with an effective garbage control system the results are dramatically visible.

Visakhapatnam saga

In November 1996 VSPCA won a major victory in the Andhra Pradesh court to stop the gruesome and painful killing of dogs (for graphic photos of the previous very cruel methods scroll down to the end of this report).   They had brutally killed 72,000 dogs in this manner and other cruel ways for 5 years.  VSPCA convinced the court that sterilization and immunization was the only sane option for reducing the street dog population while at the same time bringing down the rabies incidences.

VSPCA staff catching community dogs for ABC.

But it has been a continuing fight to uphold the Dog Rules and protect the street dogs’ very right to exist.  The Municipality tries through illegal methods to sabotage the program with all kind of pressure while ignoring scientific evidence that the ABC project does indeed work.

VSPCA goes out on dangerous nighttime patrols to prevent the dog killing, has constant meetings with officials to get them to uphold the law, and uses lawyers and writ petitions to protect the dogs legal right to live according to the animal welfare laws of India.

VSPCA has realized the sterilization of over 23,000 dogs within the city limits going for a target of 70% to 80% sterilization.  (The remaining dogs are in hard to reach areas). The street dogs who are sterilized and returned to their communities are extremely friendly, docile and absolutely charming.  Even though these dogs may not be “owned” by an individual, they may be fed regularly, sleep in the same place every night, and respond to and protect the people in their immediate community.  They are an asset to Indian neighbourhood life.

The number of human and dog rabies cases per year has steadily gone down through implementation of ABC.  And any that occur are on the city outskirt but will be taken care of once VSPCA has funds to revaccinate all the dogs.  Below is an idea of how complaints towards the street dogs have lessened through the adoption of ABC programs.   Complaints investigated by us indicate that the street dogs have been provoked into their ill behaviour by the public but all these complaints are coming down nonetheless:

Dog bites (provoked biting) 60% to 2%
Dogs chasing people on bikes, etc. 10% to 3%
Groups of dogs 10% to 5%
Unprovoked biting 20% to 2%

(Unprovoked biting means the dog is ferocious and something is wrong with him or her and needs to be put down.)

Our serious cash flow problem

Sarada Buddhiraju, Shelter Manager.

Under Clause II IV of the Dog Rules 2001 it is stated that the local authorities need to reimburse VSPCA on a weekly basis per dog and give an additional Rs. 1700 (or USD $400) per month for the vehicle and driver.  When they actually do reimburse us within any time schedule it is still not enough to cover our expenses.  We try to garner support from anywhere available as our expenses per dog are now Rs. 500 per dog (or USD $10) inclusive of all the best post-operative care and feed.

Instead of supporting us the Municipality is always working against our humane and effective methods.  But now with our awareness campaigns, we are winning the battle by convincing the public that no-kill is an effective and compassionate solution.

Rural extension

Our city of Visakha has recently expanded and now the ABC program has to spread out to cover a territory behind a radius of 30 kms.  Now we are reaching out nearer to the areas we covered doing our tsunami and Fall ’05 flood emergency outreach.  The formation of Greater Visakha has made our challenges steep once again similar to what we faced when we first began VSPCA and the ABC program.

Rural ABC humane dog catching.

However, we are happy to have this challenge because the Municipality is now officially responsible within these expanded areas.  And they have the obligation to help us achieve sterilization for another 20,000 dogs in addition to helping 5000 more cattle and hundreds of pigs.

Our hope for the cattle and pigs that the outreach teams encounter is to try to remove them from harm and stem the many serious diseases that threaten them.  And the Municipality has the obligation of handing the stray cattle over to us instead of sending them to slaughter.  Then we try to find the cattle good homes with responsible and compassionate farm families.

Our hope for the dogs lies in improving mobile ABC clinics.

New methods of ABC:  RESQ – Release by Efficient, Sure, Quick Procedure

At the clinic, visiting expert vet Dr. Bosmat Gal in surgery, assisted by Dr. Srinivas.

VSPCA is now adopting this technique for ABC in the field.  We have coined this phrase from our work during the tsunami and severe flooding in the fall of ’05 in Andhra Pradesh.  Our work of conducting ABC all over the state of Andhra Pradesh has already begun with a pilot project in Pulivendla, the Chief Minister’s constituency.  After a full assessment, our ABC work will be implemented in the entire state and we are well equipped to deal with this situation in the three major identified districts.

This is indeed a dream come true for us and the dogs of Andhra Pradesh which can only continue with everyone pitching in to help.  With your kind support, we hope to achieve every success for the sake of the peace-loving sweet community dogs.

Michael Bannasch, RVT, Coordinator of the Shelter Medicine Program University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine; came to VSPCA to bring new protocols and advanced equipment to substantially improve our ABC program.  He wrote the following after his visit:

I will never forget the tears that Sarada, the lead technician, shed when we greeted the truck full of street dogs arriving to the shelter for surgery.  When I asked her why she was crying, she explained that these dogs were once marked for death by electrocution.  Now, almost every time she greets the truck, she has to hold back tears of joy that come from knowing that they are saving their lives.

Warning:  Graphic and shocking photos below taken by VSPCA.

We won’t let this happen in our jurisdiction again and plan to prevent it elsewhere in our state.  (Dogs captured and electrocuted by running water over them and using electricity.)