Local community embraces dog vaccination

We are invited to visit a special home run by a religious order for ex drug addicts, and vaccinate a large family of lovely dogs with the help of residents and workers there.

The compound is sparse but well maintained and the resident dogs, a beautiful dog named Laila and her puppies, are all healthy and have a lovely sleeping area which keeps them safe and warm.

“I work as a cook here and I love having the dogs around,” says Parul Begum. “I adore dogs but I can’t have a pet dog at home. Laila and her puppies are lovely and I get to at least see them when I come to work.” 

Laila – pictured here with Parul – clearly returns her affection and comes when called, long curly tail wagging. Parul tells us that Laila is around three years old and has three puppies.

The vaccination team easily catches her in a net and quickly vaccinates and collars her but things get more difficult as we try to vaccinate her puppies. Laila is very protective of her litter around strangers and barks and runs around in circles, trying her best to keep us away.

WSPA vet and project manager, Dana Karunaratna, quickly and carefully arranges the team so that one dog catcher is holding Laila and distracting her with food, before he swiftly vaccinates the three puppies and returns them to their den like sleeping area.

Temporary vaccination centre

As we work vaccinating Laila and puppies, local children spread the word about the work of the vaccination team and within a few minutes dozens of locals have arrived with dogs, all waiting for their turn to get the animals vaccinated.

In little over 30 minutes more than 20 puppies and dogs have been vaccinated, collared or sprayed with red non-toxic paint. The children are very keen to show us that they know how to treat the dogs well and listen to us when we explain how to carefully carry them and kindly pet them.

We meet a lovely dog called Nirob and her two little puppies who live just outside the compound and were brought in for vaccinations by siblings Meem (pictured with Laila and one of her puppies) and Shaon Khan.

Meem is five years old and Shaon is seven. Both of them love playing with puppies and would like to have their own dog but their parents will not allow it.

Meem tells us that she comes every day to see Laila and her puppies and that Laila is her favourite dog. Both siblings are curious about the work and why WSPA is supporting the government to vaccinate dogs against rabies. We explain carefully how in the past dogs like Laila may have been killed because of the fear of rabies. As the authorities have now ended culling and replaced with mass dog vaccination, Laila and her puppies will be safe. We are also helping to protect people in the community from this dreadful disease.

Shaon is confused about the disease and what happens if he is bitten: “I thought that if I was bitten I would have puppies. That’s why so many kids get scared if dogs bark and look like they might bite.”

Dana confirms that this myth and others like this are still common in Bangladesh. Education and awareness about dog bite prevention and what to do if bitten are crucial to successfully controlling rabies and saving lives.

A better life for the Ghandi family dogs

As we walk through the urban sprawl of Tongi municipality we meet interested locals everywhere. As the local vaccination team caught and vaccinated six dogs living in amongst houses and businesses we met the dog loving Ghandi Family.

Zakir Ghandi is clearly an animal lover. With one of his dogs sleeping happily in the sun beside him (pictured), he explained to us that many locals were nervous of dogs but that his father had always taught him to be kind to dogs and in return they would be kind to him.

The Ghandi’s, successful textile manufacturers, were in the middle of building a new family compound and owned all of the surrounding buildings. Zakir said that the six dogs just vaccinated all lived in the compound and were fed by his family on leftovers.

While the Ghandi’s had not seen dog culling they had heard of it happening and also knew about the threat of jollohtinko, the local Bangladeshi word for rabies.

Before the vaccination project they had paid for these dogs to be vaccinated and were pleased to hear that all local dogs in the area would get protection from this dreadful disease.

“We have always had dogs, since I was a child. My father taught me to like them and treat them kindly and in return they are loyal and offer protection,” says Zakir.

“We don’t have names for all of these dogs but the funny thing is, when I call Tommy all six of them come running! We joke that Tommy must be the word for food in their dog language.”

The vaccination team quickly and carefully uses nets to catch and vaccinate the dogs, and sprays them with red non-toxic paint. We give Zakir and his father the bright red fabric collars and they promise to collar the dogs at feeding time that night.

Children helping protect puppies and dogs


Meet 11 year old Shaon. After hearing about the mass dog vaccination work in Tongi Municipality he brought two puppies that live outside his house to be vaccinated.

Shaon told us that he loved dogs. He explained that his parents would not let him have a pet but he played with the puppies, that he called Bullet and Tommy, whenever he could, and fed them any leftover scraps of food.

The puppies were clearly fond of Shoan and happily followed him and allowed him to pick them up. He told us that the mother dog roamed the area and he promised to take her to a vaccination team for an injection.

Shoan was pleased to hear that the mass dog vaccination programme would help to keep Bullet, Tommy and other dogs safe and he vividly recalled the horrors of past dog culling.

“I hated seeing the dogs being caught with the big tongs and poisoned. You could see the men who had to do it didn’t like their work either but they told us it was to keep us safe. I didn’t know that you could get a disease from dogs though. If this work will protect the dogs and the people, it is a very good thing,” says Shaon.

Shaon told us that the puppies in his area grow up fast and are big and strong because most local families feed them meat bones and other scraps whenever they can.

The puppies are carefully held by Shaon and WSPA vet Dana Karunaratna and quickly vaccinated, then, both dogs happily follow Shaon back to their home.

Collars Not Cruelty: Tongi, Bangladesh November 2012

With the support of the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) the Government of Bangladesh is currently rolling out a programme of mass dog vaccination. To date, local teams have vaccinated tens of thousands of dogs across Northern Bangladesh and completed a second round of vaccinations in Cox’s Bazar where the first vaccination project was piloted in 2011.

WSPA was in Tongi, a large municipality situated in the greater Dhaka area, for the training and first round of dog vaccinations. Thanks to the support of people like you, we could be there to offer technical advice and guidance about how to run a mass dog vaccination project and work towards a future where dog culling in response to rabies never happens again in Bangladesh.

More countries say yes to Collars not Cruelty

With your support WSPA continues to pioneer for change with new partnerships and alliances formed in new regions and countries, and thousands more dogs and people being protected as new Collars not Cruelty campaigns are launched.

One year ago we launched our global Collars not Cruelty campaign by supporting the Bangladesh Government to implement its first mass canine vaccination campaign in Cox’s Bazar on the southern coast of Bangladesh.

The aim was to save thousands of dogs, end their cruel and needless killing, and pave the way for a nation-wide vaccination campaign.

One year on, thanks to you, the Cox’s Bazar pilot has delivered on its promise to vaccinate 70% of the estimated 4,000 dog population, and significantly reduce the cases of human rabies in the community; safeguarding both dogs and people so they can live in harmony together.

New vaccination campaigns are now being planned across Bangladesh from Autumn 2012 and we look forward to sharing news on how you can continue to help.

With your support we are demonstrating how we can work together with governments and decision makers to safeguard dogs and people in Bangladesh and beyond – ultimately saving the lives of thousands of dogs.

Forging into Indonesia and the Philippines


In 2010 the Indonesian island of Bali was announced as a destination for WSPA’s Collars Not Cruelty campaign.

In partnership with the Bali Animal Welfare Association, we moved closer to controlling the spread of rabies on the island through mass dog vaccination, protecting over 300,000 dogs from a needless death and massively reducing the numbers of human rabies cases.

Now, we are building on this success by adopting a similar model on another Indonesian island and in Metro Manila in the Philippines.

With the Global Alliance for Rabies Control (GARC), WSPA is moving into new areas as we launch our first ever joint mass vaccination campaign in the Philippines, and move forward in Indonesia on the island of Nias within the province of Northern Sumatra.

In the Philippines we are tackling one of our first Collar not Cruelty campaigns in an urban setting in the national capital region of Metro Manila.
Both projects will aim to humanely stop the spread of canine rabies through mass dog vaccinations, to stop the needless killing of dogs, and to ultimately decrease the number of human deaths caused by the disease across these two countries.

Collars not Cruelty continues to prove that a world that is free of rabies doesn’t have to be free of dogs.

Musicians support collars not cruelty in the fight against rabies

Daniel Johns and Chris Cheney have joined forces to raise funds and awareness for WSPA’s recently launched ‘Collars not Cruelty’ campaign, to help convince the world to stop killing dogs in response to rabies and instead use mass vaccination to protect entire communities.

Both musicians have launched an exclusive competition giving you the chance to win an Epiphone Les Paul Studio guitar, signed by them and kindly donated by The Gibson Foundation.

Daniel said, “This is something we could do on a selfless level, as soon as Chris and I heard about WSPA’s campaign and the 20 million dogs brutally slaughtered every year, we knew we had to ‘man up’ and do something about it.”

All entries were judged by Daniel and Chris and the most creative answer won this fantastic piece of rock history.  Plus, there are also some fantastic runner-up prizes that were won!

Chris said, “The vital funds raised at www.dollarsforcollars.org.au will ensure that WSPA can campaign to let people know that vaccination and not culling, is the solution to the rabies problem.  Upon vaccination these dogs are given red collars and communities then know that these dogs are safe from the disease, this is a noble and practical solution and you can help make it a success.”

To support ‘Collars not Cruelty’ and enter the competition visit www.dollarsforcollars.org.au.

Bangladesh says no to killing dogs in the fight against rabies

On World Rabies Day (September 28th 2012) the Bangladesh Government will announce, in collaboration with the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), a National Action Plan to implement nationwide humane canine vaccinations across Bangladesh.

This country first action plan will end the needless and horrifically cruel practice of dog culling, and protect the dogs and communities of Bangladesh from the daily threat of rabies.

More than 55,000 people die from rabies every year globally – with authorities recording up to 2,100 of those deaths in Bangladesh.

The on-going battle to control rabies has created another victim – man’s best friend. Twenty million dogs are brutally killed every year worldwide, many as a direct result of the fear and miscomprehension around rabies.

In Bangladesh alone, many thousands of dogs have suffered horrific deaths in the past through the mistaken belief that their senseless killing will abolish rabies – it doesn’t, but the humane mass vaccination of dogs does.

A solutions-based approach

WSPA, the leading animal welfare organisation, runs its Collars not Cruelty campaign to promote this humane and effective approach to tackling rabies and encourage governments and communities to choose vaccinations over culling.

With support from WSPA, the Bangladesh Government is forging forward to vaccinate dogs.

This approach is scientifically proven as the only humane and effective way to tackle rabies, and will help safeguard generations of Bangladeshi communities from this wholly preventable disease.

“We firmly believe that mass dog vaccination is the best possible method for controlling and ultimately eliminating rabies in Bangladesh,” said Professor Be-Nazir Ahmed of Bangladesh’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. “This is why the Bangladesh Government, with WSPA, has commenced mass dog vaccination programmes across our country, along with initiatives to manage and prevent people being bitten by dogs in the first place.

“WSPA remains a trusted partner of the Bangladesh Government as we continue in our mission to eliminate rabies. Our collaboration will protect the people of Bangladesh and stop the necessity to kill any dogs, so that dogs can live in harmony with communities.”

Joanna Tuckwell, Inhumane Culling Campaign Manager, WSPA Asia Pacific, welcomed the National Action Plan: “We are delighted to be working with the Bangladesh Government and we hope their progressive approach, and the resulting decline in both canine and human rabies cases across Bangladesh, will inspire other countries to follow suit and implement a no kill policy in the fight against rabies.”

The National Action Plan follows a highly successful pilot project, launched on World Rabies Day 2011, which has seen the Bangladesh Government and WSPA vaccinate thousands of dogs in the southern beach resort of Cox’s Bazar.

The tipping point

Cox’s Bazar has seen a significant reduction of both canine and human rabies cases since over 70 per cent of the estimated 4,000 dog population have been vaccinated.
Vaccinating 70% of dogs in a community creates a barrier of immunised dogs. Unable to spread, rabies then becomes eliminated in the local dog population. When rabies is eliminated in dogs, it is eliminated in humans. WSPA’s global Red Collar Campaign acts as an introduction to wider animal welfare issues in communities, such as initiating humane dog population control and improving the relationship between people and dogs.

“Our Red Collar Campaign calls on national and local governments to stop killing 20 million dogs a year, too many of which are killed, because of our fear of rabies. It’s needless, cruel and ineffective. Through our Red Collar Campaign, we are committed to working with governments to introduce mass vaccination programmes; the only proven and humane way to wipe out rabies in communities” concluded Mike Baker, Chief Executive of WSPA International.
Inspiring stories from Cox’s Bazar

“We like dogs here and we didn’t want them to be killed, so vaccinations protecting dogs and us against jollohtinko is a very good thing,” Cox’s Bazar resident Mohousk. 
In Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, the word jollohtinko causes dread among the community because it is the local word for rabies. But, thanks to the support of generous and compassionate people like you, WSPA continues to make great progress with our Collars not Cruelty campaigns; protecting local people and uniting animal lovers so they can continue to care for local dogs without the fear of rabies. 
WSPA is working in partnership with the government and local animal welfare groups to vaccinate the estimated 4,000 dog population in Bangladesh; creating a community of people and dogs who can live safely and happily together…and we wanted to share some of their stories with you.

Celebrating people and dogs living in happy cohabitation

Thousands of dogs have now been vaccinated in Cox’s Bazar; protecting both people and animals so they can live in happy cohabitation- just like Antora and Jumba do. 
Jumba, a big bouncing puppy, was brought to us by his three year old adoring owner Antora. He was almost too heavy for her to carry, but that didn’t stop her from bringing him to our vaccination team…and Jumba had no complaints as he happily clambered back into her arms every time she put him down. 
Antora carefully held Jumba as he was vaccinated, and because he was too small for a red collar, he was sprayed with non-toxic paint to symbolise he was protected against rabies. Antora then proudly carried him back home, chattering away to her grandfather about her best friend Jumba.

A new life for a puppy called Tuna

Tuna was another abandoned puppy rescued by the vaccination team. He was alone and cowering in an empty fish shed, hence his name, with a badly infected eye.  
Tuna was immediately taken along to the WSPA vet who cleaned up his wounds and gave him some antibiotics, ensuring he would remain healthy and live a full and happy life…all he needed was a loving home. 
Luckily for Tuna, Sumon, one of the local tom-tom drivers working with our vaccination team, took a shine to him and immediately offered him a home with his two other dogs, his wife Parul, and new baby girl called Mumu. 
“I had my other dogs vaccinated last year, and we’ll make sure Tuna is vaccinated as soon as he is well enough, but first we need to think of a better name for him!” said Sumon. 
These are just a few stories from the people of Cox’s Bazar who truly value their dogs and are eagerly embracing a world without rabies not without dogs. 
For more information about WSPAs Collars Not Cruelty campaign.
WSPA celebrates the end of dog culling in Dhaka

The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) congratulates the Dhaka City Corporation for enforcing an immediate ban on dog culls in response to the threat of rabies.

The Dhaka City Corporation had earlier ordered mass extermination drives that killed as many as 20,000 dogs a year. These cruel culls came in for sustained criticism from local group Obhayaronno, who pressured the government to adopt more humane alternatives. WSPA had also lobbied the Bangladesh government to choose Collars not Cruelty in the fight against rabies and worked with officials to demonstrate the success of our vaccination approach through a pilot project in Cox’s Bazar, completed earlier this year.

WSPA helped the Bangladesh government complete a pilot project in Cox’s Bazar, carrying out a large-scale dog vaccination project. In two weeks, four vaccination teams immunized more than 70 percent of the local dog population – enough to ensure that the local dogs, and therefore the entire community, will be safe from rabies.

The success of the Cox’s Bazar project has been critical, as acknowledged in today’s announcement as having “prompted Dhaka’s authorities to implement their no-cull policy.”

In 2012, WSPA will continue to work with the Bangladesh government to eliminate rabies through a nation-wide mass vaccination of dogs, which will save countless lives, both human and animal.

For more information on WSPA’s Collars not Cruelty campaign, please visit: www.collarsnotcruelty.org.au

WSPA delight at Bali’s decision to lower rabies alert level after vaccination success

The Bali Health Agency has lowered the rabies alert level on the island following a successful dog vaccination programme, pioneered by WSPA.
WSPA was delighted to learn from The Jakarta Globe that there has been a significant drop in human rabies deaths on the island, down from 83 in 2010 to 26 in 2011. Authorities have attributed this decline to the mass vaccination of dogs.

Proof that an island without rabies is not an island without dogs

When rabies broke out on the tourist-friendly island of Bali, authorities acted swiftly to try and stamp it out: sentencing the roaming dog population to a cruel and unnecessary death by strychnine poisoning.
WSPA quickly stepped in, promoting mass vaccination as the only effective way to control rabies and encouraging officials to carry it out. 
In 2010, WSPA funded the first phase of an island wide dog vaccination scheme and working closely with the Bali Animal Welfare Association (BAWA). The government took over funding phase two of the programme in 2011, with the third round of vaccinations due to take place at the end of March.   
Ray Mitchell, International Campaigns Director said: “In Bali we’ve proved what science already shows: vaccination works. Not only has the human death rate from rabies on the island dropped by almost 70%, but hundreds of thousands of dogs’ lives have been saved.
“Unfortunately we’ve heard reports of localised culling still taking place, despite the obvious success of the vaccination scheme. We will be working with the Balinese authorities to address this and ensure that rabies is never used as an excuse for killing dogs in future.”

A blueprint for a global campaign A blueprint for a global campaign

The success in Bali has become a blueprint for WSPA’s global Collars not Cruelty campaign which has so far seen vaccination programmes rolled out into Sri Lanka and Bangladesh with more work to follow.
Ray Mitchell added: “Rabies is a global problem with a global solution. We want all governments to fight rabies with collars, not cruelty.”
For more information on WSPA’s Collars not Cruelty campaign, please visit: www.collarsnotcruelty.org.au.