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Mission Rabies – vaccinating Goa State to save the lives of dogs and people

MISSION RABIES, in partnership with the Government of GoaandIndia Project for Animals and Nature (IPAN)are proud to lead the fight against rabies in Goa State in September and October 2015. Mission Rabies ran a six month campaign between April and September 2014 to sterilise and vaccinate 20,000 dogs across Goa State. After achieving this goal, they pledged that, with the support of the Goan Government, they would launch a three year follow-up vaccination programme to finally rid Goa of the menace of rabies.


This second phase programme began at half capacity in January, but with the Government of Goa now agreeing to match-fund the programme costs, Mission Rabies is able to expand their vaccination programme and are now pleased to announce an intensive 4 week vaccination drive, where 20 teams and over 150 staff will work their way through the whole state, vaccinating both stray and owned dogs in all taluks – targeting at least 35,000 dogs.
The vaccine drive will launch on Monday 14th September and conclude on Friday 9th October 2015. The teams will be distributed across the State and will cover all areas, catching stray dogs with nets and going door-to-door to vaccinate pet dogs. This method of mass vaccination of at least 70% of the dog population is endorsed and recommended by the World Health Organization as the most effective and economical means of preventing human rabies deaths, since over 99% of these deaths are the result of a rabid dog bite.

Just last week, the Mission Rabies team picked up and euthanized three rabid dogs from areas of Goa which the team had not previously been able to reach through lack of funds. Now, however, with the commitment of the Goan Government to fund the shortfall in the programme, the entire State can be vaccinated each year until 2017 – bringing about the real possibility of eliminating this deadly disease from Goa and creating a Rabies Free State.
Besides the mass vaccination drive, Mission Rabies will be running a veterinary training programme for Goan vets, on board their Mercedes Zetro 6x6 state-of-the-art mobile surgical training facility which has been running outreach training programmes across India since 2013. There will also be a 'Rabies Fair' and awareness event on World Rabies Day, 28th September, at Taleigao Community Centre, at which all interested parties are welcome.
Mission Rabies also provide a 'Rabies Hotline' so that members of the public can report suspected rabies cases to the team, who will then respond to ensure public safety by catching and testing these dogs, and providing information on post-exposure prophylaxis to anyone who has been bitten. Via this hotline, Mission Rabies safely captured and diagnosed 72 canine rabies cases in Goa between April and September 2014, at the start of their programme. The hotline number is 07744029586

About Mission Rabies

Having seen the devastating effect of rabies on animals and people during his time volunteering and as a TV vet, Luke Gamble, CEO of the UK-based charity Worldwide Veterinary Service (WVS), launched Mission Rabies in India in September 2013. Since then, Mission Rabies, with the help of local and international volunteers, has expanded to work in Malawi, Uganda and Sri Lanka and has managed to vaccinate more than 235,000 dogs, educated more than 310,000 children about rabies risk reduction and trained more than 100 Indian veterinarians in humane Animal Birth Control (ABC) techniques.


The majority of the people who die from rabies are children from poor and marginal communities and over 99% of human cases of rabies are the result of dog bites. In response to these statistics, hundreds of thousands of dogs are indiscriminately and inhumanely killed every year across India, yet this makes no difference to the spread of rabies. Dogs Trust-sponsored Mission Rabies will change this by aiming to vaccinate at least 70% of the canine population in rabies-endemic areas– a proportion necessary for control of the disease in both dogs and humans according to World Health Organization guidelines.
The campaign in India is being led by partnership with India Project for Animals and Nature (IPAN), the AWBI and Government of Goa. The support team in the UK is led by Dr Luke Gamble, with Dogs Trust and MSD Animal Health as the key international sponsors. Working in strong collaboration and partnership with many veterinary and animal welfare organizations will ensure sustainability of the rabies control efforts for years to come. More information about the India programme, future projects and how to become a part of Mission Rabies can be found on www.missionrabies.com

May 2015 – Innovative ways to handle human-animal –conflict

Human-animal –conflict in areas like the Masinagudi-Mudumalai in the Nilgiris has been a major reason for elephant deaths recently. Angry and frustrated farmers try to protect their crops by turning on high-voltage electrified fences or taking revenge on the crop-raider by hiding home-made bombs into banana bunches. With horrible results that eventually don't provide a result to the problem. Nigel Otter has been learning about elephant-friendly ways to protect crops and already now all the oats grass that has been grown to feed the many resident herbivores of the Hill View Farm Animal Refuge, is protected by a fence with chillies tied on it. Elephants don't like the smell of chillies.

One of the outcomes of Nigel's recent visit to the South Luangwa Conservation Society (SLCS) in Zambia, was to see how chilli-fencing can be done in a more effective way and how the knowledge can be taught to farmers. SLCS also produces 'chilli-guns' that shoot chilli-oil filled ping-pong balls that explode leaving a strong chilli smell when shot towards a raider. As part of IPAN's work for the wildlife in the Masinagudi-Mudumalai, we will be conducting chilli-fence-training sessions for farmers of the region and this project will also provide opportunities for volunteers who are interested in community involvement in sustainable conservation work.


April 2015 – Green Pasture Lands: Photos by Heidi Vesterinen

The rains have begun in the Nilgiris and our resident ponies, horses, donkeys, cattle and buffaloes are enjoying their pasture lands slowly becoming green again. Keeping so many grazing animals means that we need to grow extra fodder for them. Every year in October, we rent a field in Ooty and plant it with oats that we then harvest in January and transport to Mavanalla to dry it and then to store it to be able to feed the resident animals through the dry season and supplement them when the pasture is not enough. If relying only on pasture, and a good pasture land, one horse would chew through one acre of land in a year. So it is only because of this extra oats that we grow plus the other extra feed we purchase that we are able to maintain our grazers on the 3 + 10 acres that we have available for them.

We have been very happy to have found Mr. Joshua to join our team at the Animal Refuge since December 2014 as a shelter manager. He is very hard working and dedicated and we hope we will be able to continue to keep him in this job and provide him further training to also help in the outreach-education work that we are starting. To be able to keep him, we are kindly requesting our supporters to help to pay his salary (USD 3000/year).


March 2015 – Volunteer vet Heidi Vesterinen tells about her time with IPAN

India Project for Animals was my home for 7 weeks starting from February 2015. I came to IPAN to volunteer as the instructor for veterinary students. In Finland I work as a mixed practice veterinarian and it was interesting to get to do the same work on the other side of the world, in a completely different setting compared to my home in Savonlinna.

During the weeks we treated all animals from chickens to horses. The students spayed and neutered more than 30 dogs and a few cats. We castrated donkeys, bulls, buffalo calves and one horse. Two cows came in for plastic removal trough rumenotomy. The first one had 41 kg of plastic rolled into a firm ball inside its rumen and would have surely starved a slow death without the operation. All the trash on the ground causes a multitude of problems to the animals and humans in India, and hopefully something can be done to this in the future. On top of the operations we had all the routine work of the IPAN sanctuary animals to do: all horses, dogs, cats and donkeys got their annual vaccinations and dewormings and we did dental checkups for all the horses. A couple of the horses had some hooks and spikes and two got their wolf teeth extracted. There was also the daily treatments of acute patients such as panther attacks, gastrointestinal problems and tick borne diseases. During my last weekend in IPAN I participated in a vaccination scheme done together with WWF India to protect the tigers of Mudumulai from distemper.

While not working on the numerous cases, we went horse riding around the Mavanalla village, took a day of for visiting Ooty, went for a safari ride to see the wildlife or relaxed at our comfortable cabin with novels and sweet masala tea. All the time we were helped by the hard working animal care takers and other workers of IPAN. I would especially like to thank Joshua for being there whenever needed and Mara for the great cooking. I felt like my work in IPAN was meaningful for both me, the local people, the animals and the students and It would be wonderful to come back someday.


February 2015 – new opportunities for volunteers!

Over the years many non-veterinarians have asked us about the opportunities to do voluntary work with IPAN but because of our focus in veterinary- and related work, we have had limited places for non-veterinarians. We will be now revising and updating our volunteer program policy and will be combining non-veterinary work to our animal welfare and nature conservation outreach and community activities, starting from July 2015. We recommend minimum stay of 3 weeks, maximum being 4 months. Longer than 4 months projects will be possible in selected cases as per mutual agreements and specific projects. Skills and interest in environmental education, horsecare instruction, English-teaching, village school support, carpentry and general building and painting and fixing, sports games, fundraising, communications, general animal care… all will come in use. Please email us (ipannilgiris@gmail.com) and let us know what your skills and interests are and we can see how you could make most use of them.


Jan 2015

Happy New Year to all our friends and supporters!

At the IPAN Hill View Farm Animal Refuge the year has started by us been busy constructing new fences for our donkey and cattle enclosures to protect them from the panthers that roam in the surrounding wildlife reserve. In a couple of weeks time we will be able to harvest the oats that we are growing on a rented field in Ooty to be able to provide sufficient feed for all our grazing resident animals during the next dry season months. For Nigel and Ilona Otter, the year 2015 brings about the fulfilment of their long-time dream of learning more about wildlife conservation by doing an extensive study-trip to Africa. The IPAN Hill View Farm Animal Refuge and the IPAN Mission Rabies project in Goa are managed and looked after by our long-term trustees, skilled staff and trusted volunteers during the months when Nigel and Ilona are studying wildlife rescue and rehabilitation in different projects in Africa.

Your support to our work is always important, every donation counts for the maintenance and development of the activities. What about sponsoring a rabies-free village as a birthday gift to a dear friend who would appreciate a unique gift?Income-tax deductible donations are possible from India as well as from US (please contact info@helpanimalsindia.com for more details of the US donations). We are looking for a long-term volunteer with skills and experience in the fields of education and animal-assisted therapy for children to develop the animal welfare education activities at the Hill View Farm Animal Refuge. The person should have experience with dogs and horses and be able for partly independent work and to stay on at least 3 months.

Here is a link to a newsletter-annual report about some of the IPAN 2014 activities.
IPAN Handots


IPAN Mission Rabies Goa project

IPAN Mission Rabies Goa project was launched with a six-month long intensive spay-neuter campaign, during which 20414 dogs were sterilised and vaccinated across Goa state (please refer www.missionrabies.in for more information). The project continues now in December with a full-time team of a vet, animal handlers and assistants working systematically, area by area, catching and vaccinating all free-roaming dogs against rabies. This work is funded by WVS and Dogs Trust but we are trying to engage the Goan government to the program as well to be able to sustain it for the next years and to eventually declare Goa as a rabies-free state with an effective rabies-surveillance system and annual vaccination programs set in place.


August 2014 – Animal therapy for children at the Hill View Farm

The Hill View Farm Animal Refuge provides opportunities for children to interact with children and to experience compassion and care. We believe that every person has compassion within them, waiting to have a way for expression in action. Children with special needs, children from cities living without any contact with animals, children from the local tribal communities with sometimes tragic family backgrounds searching for direction to their lives, all can benefit from the interaction with animals and from helping around with the farm activities.Through the vocational training we provide, many young men have also got good and meaningful work in the animal welfare and rabies control field. In August 2014 we had two volunteers from Finland, Suvi and Ella, arranging horse-therapy activities with a group of children from the Mavanalla tribal school. Learning to understand how you can communicate with a big animal like a horse and be around them, using gentle aids and touching them to relax them and guide them – this all affects humans of all ages in a very positive and powerful way.


Mission to save man's best friend

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18th February 2014 - Mission Rabies truck now in full use!

The Mission Rabies Truck (sponsored by Dogs Trust) and donated to IPAN by WVS has begun its job as a veterinary surgery training base. After running a training course in Guwahati, Assam in October 2013 to mark the completion of the Mission Rabies (www.missionrabies.in) launching event when over 60 000 dogs were vaccinated against rabies in 12 different checkpoint towns across India in just 29 days in September, the truck has returned to South India and in collaboration with WVS India team three surgery courses have been arranged and more 300 dogs neutered and vaccinated as part of the surgery training programs. The courses were held in Erode (Dec-13), Tirupur (Jan-14) and Madurai (Feb-14). The next stop for the truck is in Chennai where a surgery course for young veterinarians will be arranged together with the Blue Cross of India. After Chennai program the truck is scheduled to move to Goa.

Mission Rabies by the IPAN team in Erode municipality, Tamil Nadu.

IPAN works together with Mission Rabies – the mega rabies vaccination program funded by Worldwide Veterinary Service and Dogs Trust. The launching event for IPAN was a two weeks long mass-vaccination drive on the streets of Erode on 1st – 13th September 2013 in collaboration with PfA Coimbatore chapter 2 and eight international guests (Megan, Tilly, Michaela, Debbie, Jake, Dave, Francesca and Jacqui) as well as some local MBA students (Prem, Venkadesh, Mithab, Riyas, Mishra, Pradeep) and new staff as assistants as well. We had three vaccination teams on the ground, led by IPAN's veterinary alumni and colleques; Dr. Jencillin, Dr. Dhanabal, Dr. Jawahar, Dr. Sushmita, Ilona Otter and Subban. We also had visiting veterinarians and animal handlers helping out and of course the fantastic & famous IPAN animal handler team (Baswaraj, Madevan, Balraj, Geddan, Narainan, Kure and Anand). Erode municipality staff had also been trained in dog catching previously by the IPAN animal handlers and they also joined the teams every morning at 6am to start the vaccinations. The rest of the IPAN animal handlers were working at the same time with Nigel in the Madurai Mission Rabies Checkpoint.

In a mass vaccination drive, the teams go through all the wards in a systematic manner, walking along all the streets and catching free-roaming dogs with catching nets, vaccinating them, marking them with spray pain and then immediately releasing them. We also vaccinate owned dogs – many of which are also free-roaming . In this way, we reached a very good vaccination coverage in each ward, protecting the inhabitants of Erode (both animal as well as human inhabitants) of the fatal disease rabies. Totally 5877 dogs were vaccinated against rabies by the IPAN team in Erode just in 12 working days.

Mission Rabies 2013 introduced a revolutionary methodology in the vaccination data collection by using a smart phone apps called Epi-Collect to enter the GPS location and other relevant information of each dog that was vaccinated. This is a fantastic way to collect proper data to help to plan and monitor the future rabies control and humane dog population control activities in Erode.

Education is an important part of Mission Rabies and our IPAN team in Erode also distributed educational material (in Tamil) to people, especially to children, about how to get along with dogs, how to avoid dog bites and what to do in case of a dog bite. Importance of having all dogs (also the owned dogs) sterilized to control the dog population and maintain rabies vaccination coverage was also included to the educational materials.

While this Mission Rabies drive now in Erode was entirely supported by WVS and Dogs Trust, we at IPAN are extremely thankful for all those individuals who have funded and supported our little group for all these past years – through the ups and downs - and helped us to get where we are now. We are still depending on your continuous support and with your help we will be able to continue the work in Erode beyond the fantastic start provided by the Mission Rabies launch and also to support other organisations by arranging animal handler training sessions. It has become really clear for people in this field that there is an urgent need in India for more and better animal handlers who can be full time employed by canine rabies control programs – to save human and animal lives. IPAN is a leading organization in humane animal handling and regularly gets requests from all over India to come and help to catch dogs. Being an animal handler is a really good job opportunity for many young men – especially those from marginal groups – and we are promoting this as a respectable career option with a possibility to travel and work with an international and professional team.

On the last night in Erode, the entire team had dinner together and danced tribal dances – this party was enjoyed by everyone from the trusted riksha drivers to the animal handlers, assistants, vets, international guests and local organization coordinators. At IPAN we believe that everyone should be respected and given credit for their particular skills and we know that this work would not be possible without the input of each and every individual in the team.

Thank you all who participated in Mission Rabies 2013 in Erode with IPAN!

Nigel and Ilona Otter were awarded the Kulapati Munshi Award by the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Nilgiris Kendra for their dedicated work and achievements in animal welfare.

IPAN wants to expose the fate of the ex-racehorses abandoned on the streets. In our facebook page we will be posting photos of ex-racehorses struggling to survive on the streets of Ooty. To support this work, please say NO for tourist rides on poor looking street horses. To get the experience of being near a horse, please visit our Animal Refuge instead.

IPAN is a partner organisation of Mission Rabies. Preparations to run a rabies vaccination drive in Erode municipality, vaccinating 5000 dogs in 10 days in September, have started. Dr. Jencillin will be leading the vaccination teams in Erode in collaboration with PfA Coimbatore unit 2