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Volunteers Needed

Post by Frederic Lohr on  23rd  January  2015

Field Report - Mission Rabies joining Dogstar's Project Sirius in Sri Lanka

Mission Rabies is all about tackling rabies together with local partners in hotspot areas around the world. Andy and the other members of our team from around the world will do their best to keep you updated on the ongoing fight against rabies.

Last week our Research and Epidemiology Manager Andy Gibson departed to Sri Lanka to support Dogstar Foundation's  "Project Sirius" and test our newly developed "Mission Rabies App" in the field. This app will enable NGOs and researchers to boost their capacities to run and coordinate rabies vaccination projects all over the world.

"We're two days into Dogstar's mass rabies vaccination campaign in Negombo, a vibrant fishing city north of Sri Lanka's capital, and things are in full swing. After a quick refresher briefing and a spicy local breakfast the teams load up the vans are in the field by 6 am. This morning we began in the fish markets where dogs survive on the off-cuts from fishermen and market stalls.

The market was bustling with hundreds of people haggling for a bargain and stalls burdened with an unimaginable array of sea creatures, the most surprising of all being tuna the size of a small sofa. A main road carving through the middle of the market adds to the chaos with cyclists, tuk-tuks and heavy goods vehicles impatiently barging through the crowd. The dogs were more interested in finding breakfast than being vaccinated and most were skillfully caught one by one in nets for just long enough to give them a rabies-protecting vaccine and mark them with dye. 

After the chaos of the markets the teams moved into the residential areas where locals brought their dogs out for vaccination, reaching a total of 201 vaccinations for the day. Simultaneously the survey team scoured the streets covered the day before, estimating the percentage of vaccinated dogs achieved. We were thrilled to calculate that we had hit our target of 70%, meaning the area is protected from the spread of rabies until we re-vaccinate next year. One area complete and another 32 to go! The team have quickly picked up using the Mission Rabies phone app to log each dog for mapping and later population analysis and the feedback has been great. It's been a pleasure to work with the hard working and dedicated team at Dogstar and we are excited about the future of this fantastic project here in Negombo."

Post by Frederic Lohr on  22nd  December  2014

Meet the Volunteers - Kaz

Being a veterinarian requires all sorts of skills that are taught at vet schools all around the world. But nothing can really prepare you for the madness of "real life" other than going out and do stuff. Kaz, studying at the University of Cambridge in the UK, took on the Mission Rabies challenge and volunteered at our project in Goa this summer. Working with all different kinds of people and advancing their clinical and cultural knowledge are just some reasons vet students love to volunteer with us, but let Kaz speak for himself and read his volunteer story:

I first came across Mission Rabies when I was charged with finding a veterinary speaker for a medical society dinner at university. Traditionally the medical students sneak a sly snooze during the vet slot, but I happily stumbled across the perfect fit in MR, and International DIrector Kate Shervell generously offered to come and speak. Not only did she fully succeed in keeping the entire audience engaged (and awake) but I found myself quickly realising I had a gaping hole in my summer and that I might have found the perfect way to fill it.

Fast forward six months, several jabs and about five thousand miles later, I stepped out from Dabolim airport and after the inevitable sensory overload passed, I met up with two vets : Jess and Edric (a daughter and father combo from the Isle of Man). I also met Phil, a van driver from Guildford who was seeking something different to the Greater London rat race. We were whizzed down to the MR HQ in Margao, where the four of us met Nicola and Anna, a vet and vet nurse respectively, who were both seasoned in the overseas vet malarkey. After a ride out with Gemma and the Margao boys that afternoon we got a decent night’s sleep before our posse set out for Canacona, the southernmost base within Goa where we would set up the new hub.

Emerging from a sedate academic year of natural sciences, I was thrust immediately into the insane world of charity neuter clinics. The hub in Canacona was an outdoor covered corridor of the local municipality building; this long corridor led to an atrium of sorts at one end and that was designated as our theatre area. Pristine it was not, but attention to detail in prep, during surgery and in recovery ensured a decent level of asepsis.

On a typical day, I would set out in the morning with the catcher boys and Phil to bring back a canine haul that would occupy the surgical team. Phil dutifully collected data on EpiCollect while I was chief vaccine-walla, jabbing any dogs we caught that had already been sterilised in previous years. From mid-morning, being by far the most junior of the veterinary team, I helped out where I was needed and was very patiently taught the art of intravenous anaesthesia in the field by Jess and Anna. Surgeries were broken up with chai and (very excellent) lunches, both of which slipped down very easily with all the frantic activity. As it got dark or the surgeons finished the day’s quota, we would feed the hounds and tidy up. From there we retreated to our digs in Palolem, a beach resort no less, and in the evening enjoyed dinner with a very moderate amount of Kingfisher or G&T to wash it down...

An increasing number of students at home are starting to realise that many “voluntourism” schemes might be more meretricious than righteous, more mouth than trouser. I reasoned that if I could find a project that could utilise some of my skills as a vet student (such as administering vaccines or handling difficult animals) that I might make a more concrete difference, even if it put a very modest dent in a formidable challenge. In the process I learned an immense amount - not just about the practicalities of running a neuter clinic in deepest Goa, but about a whole raft of other things like the madness of Indian roads, that Goan port is definitely not port and the beauty of Ganesh Chaturthi.. As a cherry on top, I was able to regale my confrères at vet school and at home with my escapades, as well as shock and awe with pictures of scrotal worms (true story).

Truthfully, when I heard the name “Mission Rabies” I was skeptical. I thought it was a smidge melodramatic. On reflection I could not have been more wrong - “mission” is an apt description, and Tom Cruise would have been sent running. Rabies is preventable but the process of containment and eradication continues be a Herculean, volatile and wholly baffling affair. I highly recommend you get involved.

Thanks to everyone I met in India, especially Anna, Edric, Jess, Nicola, Phil and Gemma, as well as every single person at MR who helps runs the show. I had a bloody good time.

If you would like to be a part of Mission Rabies, check out our Volunteer page for our amazing Mission Rabies trips and like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter, where we always post the latest news about our project.

Post by Frederic Lohr on  9th  December  2014

Meet our Volunteers - Zsófia

The first stage of the Mission Rabies project in Goa was not just an amazing experience for us, but also for our international volunteers. Enjoying the project so much that she didn't just volunteer once but twice during the Goa campaign, Zsófia, an experienced veterinarian from Hungary, would like to share her experiences today.

I first learned about Mission Rabies when I participated in Dr. Jeff Young's 'Quick Spay' workshop this spring. There I saw his yellow bracelet with a Mission Rabies sign on it, googled it and not long later I submitted my application. I knew I would like to be a part of this project! Since I have never done anything like this and never been to India before, it seemed like a perfect way to explore a new world and try my skills under very different conditions.

My first two weeks in July I spent most of my time in the Panjim hub vaccinating and sterilising stray dogs. With the help of the Panjim Animal Welfare Society, the team could make a huge step forward to make the area rabies free. For a few days I also had the chance to join the Margao team. It was marvellous to see how so many people - Indians, non-Indians, vets, nurses, and dog catching boys - could work together so hard for one big goal.

I enjoyed being a volunteer very much and I met some lovely and wonderful people! Even after operating more than a hundred dogs in two weeks, I felt like I could do some more! So, after I got home, I signed up for another two weeks - the last two weeks of the 6 month project. This time, in September, I was lucky to see 3 different hubs. All were incredibly busy catching, vaccinating and operating as many dogs as they could to reach the set goal of sterilising 20.000 dogs in 6 months. It was amazing to see that we, even in sometimes poor conditions, without electricity and running water, still managed proper and sterile surgeries.

I could see some suspected rabies cases and sadly most of them came up positive. Once a young couple showed up with their Labrador. The dog was salivating and not able to close his mouth for a couple days now. There was no behaviour change, as he was friendly and wagging his tail. The dog was vaccinated against rabies the year before, but didn't receive any booster shots. The owners explained that he got bitten by another dog 4 months ago, so we kept him in our clinic to examine and observe him. Unfortunately, one day later the dog died and the rabies test turned out to be positive. Luckily, his owners were sure they did not get bitten, but they tried to feed the dog with bare hands. To be on the safe side, we sent them to the hospital for post-exposure treatment.

This awful disease is totally preventable and Mission Rabies can help to stop the spread of rabies. I am very proud that I had the opportunity to be there and to help making Goa rabies free!

If you would like to be a part of Mission Rabies, check out our Volunteer page for our amazing Mission Rabies trips and like our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter, where we always post the latest news about our project.

Post by Frederic Lohr on  29th  September  2014

Meet our Volunteers - Gemma

Our mission to eliminate rabies in the State of Goa could not be accomplished without the help and dedication of our Volunteers and Staff who donate their time and skills to Mission Rabies. Therefore we would like to share with you who they are and how they experience being part of Mission Rabies.


We begin with Gemma Annetts, our long-term volunteer from the UK, who is with us since the very beginning. Read her inspiring story and see what it's like to be a Volunteer for Mission Rabies.



I was lucky enough to be able to take part in the mass vaccination drive last September with Mission Rabies, and I loved every minute of it! I had never been to India before, but the project gave me a great way to explore and experience all the different cultures as well as working on a project for dog protection - something through my working life and personal passion I loved being here to volunteer on.


So, after a great first trip out with the team in September, when Mission Rabies announced the Goa project, I signed up straight away. Since May I have been here in Goa now, having an amazing time and meeting some truly amazing people.



Most of the time I have been working with one of the catching teams in the Mission Rabies base in Margao. We have a great rapport and I enjoy going out with the guys catching dogs to bring back to the hubs, our Mission Rabies animal hospitals, for vaccination and sterilisation, speaking to the local people and educating them as to what we are doing. As responding to suspect rabies cases is a crucial part of the job, I was part of a team that headed to an emergency case of a rabid dog up near Vasco which had bitten 43 people just recently. Being part of this response team got me in touch with a lot of the people who were bitten by the dog. Their utterly heart-breaking stories are a strong reminder for me as to why it is so important to carry out this amazing work, and hopefully eliminate this totally preventable disease from the world.



One particular rabies case stands out to me, though. We were called out to a house where I met a lovely man and his family. He was concerned as his dog Sandy had been salivating the past 2 days, even though he was sure she hadn't been bitten by another dog, but had recently been in heat and a street dogs had been recently hanging around outside the house. After speaking to him, we took Sandy back to our clinic to observe her behaviour for a few days and soon she became quite erratic and noise sensitive – signs that rabies may be present.


In the end a hard decision was made to put her to sleep and test for rabies. Before Dr Shashi, one of the Indian veterinarians working for Mission Rabies, euthanized her, I went back to the owner’s house and spoke to him and told him we have reason to believe she has rabies based upon her behaviour. He was ok for us to carry on and inform him of the results as he has a 4 year old daughter. Sadly all the tests run came back positive - Sandy did in fact have rabies. I then went to the owner again and spoke with him. He was so grateful we were there and responded to his call so quickly. He was extremely concerned about his daughter, thankfully she hadn't been bitten however he still took her to the hospital and she had the course of post exposure vaccines to be certain.


These are just a few cases that really got to me and showcase just how easily this awful disease can spread. Harrowingly it is totally preventable.




I have often been asked by the locals, when I am out with the team, why I came all the way to India to work with Mission Rabies and why I don't carry out the same work at home in the UK. People are always surprised to hear that the UK is rabies free. It is wonderful to think this could be the future for Goa, too!


I am extremely proud to have been a part of this amazing team carrying out this incredible work and working towards a rabies free world. Everyone has done a fantastic job, and I look forward to volunteering again in the future with one of the upcoming projects of Mission Rabies.


If you would like to be a part of Mission Rabies, check out our Volunteer page for our amazing Mission Rabies trips and like our Facebook page , where we always post the latest news about our project.

Post by Kate Shervell on  11th  May  2014

Goa is Go!

Mission Rabies has been awarded a very generous grant by our major sponsors, Dogs Trust, to carry out a six month mass sterilisation and rabies vaccination drive across the entire state of Goa! Goa was one of our 14 checkpoints that took part in the September 2013 mega-vaccination drive, and we successfully vaccinated over 5,000 dogs there in the course of the month. We decided to build on this success by proposing a state-wide campaign to sterilise and rabies vaccinate 70% of the dog population within six months - estimated to be around 28,000 dogs.

This is no mean feat and will require a huge amount of co-ordination to achieve. As such, we've recruited some of the best vets and animal handlers from across India to come together in this - we've got staff from Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, West Bengal, Kerala and Goa itself, joining forces with local NGOs, including International Animal RescuePeople for Animals GoaWelfare for Animals in GoaGoa Animal Welfare Trust, South Goa Welfare Trust for Animals, Panjim Animal Welfare Society and Goa SPCA, amongst others. On top of this, international volunteers will lend their weight to the teams, to bring a truly global presence to drive the project on!

The plan is to ensure we've achieved a state-wide vaccination coverage sufficient to halt the spread of rabies - as recommended by the World Health Organization, vaccinating 70% of the dog population produces 'herd-immunity' which prevents rabies spreading between dogs or from dogs to people - whilst also reducing the reproductive rate of the population, so that individual sterilised dogs live longer, healthier lives, without the constant physiological demands of reproduction. This also means fewer new, potentially unwanted, puppies being born each year to dilute the vaccination coverage, and a healthier, stable adult vaccinated population. Healthy, vaccinated, sterilised dogs are our best allies in the fight against rabies!

Following our initial pilot phase, where we established the teams and protocols, we launched officially on 1st April 2014 and now have three surgical 'hubs' - based in Bicholim and Assagoa in North Goa, and Margao in South Goa - where we aim to sterilise up to 200 dogs a day. At the end of the first month we'd already sterilised over 3000 dogs!

Surveillance of rabies cases is a vital part of the project to show that we are making an impact on the areas we're working, so we've established and publicised a rabies 'hotline' for members of the public to report suspected rabid dogs to our team so that we can send a rapid response unit to assess the dog and, if suspected as rabid, safely capture it and test for rabies with special field testing kits that give us an immediate result, allowing feedback to the community and those potentially exposed. To date, we've confirmed 8 cases of canine rabies and followed up with five local people - four of which were children - that had been bitten, to ensure they receive the full post-exposure vaccine that will prevent them developing the symptoms of rabies and save their lives.

The work is set to continue until the end of September, after which, we'll continue the surveillance work and annual mass vaccine drives to keep the disease at bay. The temperature and humidity are high in Goa, but so are the spirits of our teams on the ground as they work tirelessly to make the entire state rabies-free and save the lives of people and dogs! You can keep up to date with the action as it happens by following our Facebook page

Post by on  25th  October  2013

Let training commence

Whilst some of us catch our breath after September’s immense launch campaign, a few members of the team are still hard at work initiating the animal birth control training programme, which has been taking place in Guwahati over the past few weeks. This is the ongoing work of Mission Rabies; to back up sustained, annual mass vaccination drives with a longer term goal of training vets in ABC techniques and build the capacity to control dog populations locally. Our hope is that this proven method will be picked up by neighbouring municipalities and NGOs so that the work mushrooms across each state, with Government funding and support, to produce a concerted network of rabies elimination across India.

We’ve received some great publicity since smashing our target - Luke was interviewed by ITV Meridian 4th October, which you can see here, and was also named an Al Jazeera Lifelines ‘Health Hero’ in recognition of Mission Rabies' work in preventing the spread of rabies. We also received attention in the British Medical Journal on 7th October.

The final two video blogs have now been posted. In part four the team catch a rabid dog in Madurai. Whilst very sad, this video is useful in showing the symptoms of rabies, such as the way in which a rabid dog bites not only people and animals but also inanimate objects. As Luke says, these dogs are just victims of a terrible disease that is completely preventable.

Part five of the video blog takes a look at the revolutionary methodology for vaccination data collection that was introduced by Mission Rabies for this campaign. By using a smart phone app to enter information about each dog vaccinated, we collected the data required to plan and monitor future rabies control and humane dog population control activities. A longer film is currently in post-production, so we can’t wait to bring you that in a few weeks’ time.

Post by on  3rd  October  2013

Ambitious target, immense achievement

Sitting back at home in Dorset looking out at the rain and the cows grazing in the adjacent field, Mission Rabies, India and all that I have seen over the last two weeks seem to be a long way away. However the ties between Great Britain and India go back hundreds of years and we are still very close in so many ways. Not least Mission Rabies remains very clear in my mind and, I am sure, in the minds of all those who have taken part to date.

What has been achieved during the last month is immense. A team of about 500 people, from both India and 14 other countries, set out to vaccinate 50,000 dogs in 28 days in small selected areas identified to be ‘hot spots’ for the disease. Given the scale of the problem it seems a very limited objective, but in reality it was an incredibly ambitious target about which many had offered their opinion that it could not be done.

As we now know, over 60,000 dogs were vaccinated in that time and we also know, thanks to the technology used, exactly where those dogs are located (see the "Mission Rabies blog 5" video in the gallery). On a map of all India those 60,000 blobs look very insignificant but the achievement of this last month was but to launch a much longer-term project. The result of this frantic month of activity has been multi-fold; not least there exists a vast number of people both trained and experienced in all the skills required for future management work.

So many volunteers from around the world had an adventure and saw the real India, up close and personal, that westerners rarely experience other than as ‘rubber-neckers’ in air conditioned splendour. Many expressed their wish to return which is excellent news for the future of the Mission. I hope also that when they return to their veterinary practices they will spread the word amongst their colleagues.

The Beast, our wonderful mobile veterinary surgery and training centre, arrived in Guwahati in the nick of time for all to see and inspect its impressive interior. The story of its journey is an epic adventure all of its own, told with great humour by Dr Vinay, the WVS (India) vet based at the International Training Centre at Ooty in Tamil Nadu. It has now started its work in Assam and will slowly work its way through India in due course.

The last month has also seen a massive campaign of education about dogs and the disease, considerable engagement with the public about the project and, not least, a great deal of publicity. As a result government support, both national and local, has grown in intensity and various animal welfare organisations around India have come on board in active support.

But this is just the beginning. The team are now evaluating all that has been achieved and are already planning for the future. The work goes on both in India and in the UK.

Above all, the last month has convinced so many people who matter that Mission Rabies can make a significant difference – rabies can be conquered, maybe eventually eliminated, as a prevalent disease throughout India.

- John Gaye, Vice Chairman of Trustees at Dogs Trust

Post by on  26th  September  2013

Mission: Possible

Yesterday we received the news we’d all been waiting to hear since Mission Rabies was merely an ambitious acorn of an idea and the truck nothing more than an axle. Not only have we reached our target of 50,000 dog vaccinations in 30 days, we have thoroughly smashed it: 51,500 doses of canine rabies vaccine administered across 12 Indian cities, with a 70% coverage in targeted areas, in just 25 days! No other group has ever achieved this, anywhere in the world. In doing so we have shown that it is possible to run effective mass vaccination campaigns and offer a solution to rabies. 

It goes without saying that this could not have been done without the incredible support of an amazing team of vets, nurses, students, paravets and non-vet volunteers. Behind every single vaccine there is the effort of an immensely dedicated and hardworking group of people. Enormous thanks to each of you, you are Mission Rabies!

Thrilled as we are with this success, the 30 days are not up yet so we are still going; every vaccine counts when it comes to saving a child from dying of rabies every hour. Keep an eye on the vaccinometer at missionrabies.com for the latest figures.

This Saturday, 28th September, is World Rabies Day. To mark this we are holding an event in Assam, which coincides with the end of this initial vaccination drive and the launch of Mission Rabies as an entity. The truck is currently making its way from Coimbatore to be in attendance so we’re looking forward to being reunited with it, having last seen it leaving the UK back in June. It will then be sent on its way again to continue its work. Hopefully it won't encounter too many more situations like this to hinder its progress before Saturday!

We couldn’t have hoped for a better start to the campaign, but our pledge is to ensure sustainability so our work is only just beginning. Stay tuned to see out how we are going to save many more human lives, hundreds of thousands of dogs and increase the moral perception of welfare towards animals that roam the streets. 

Thank you to everyone who has supported us!

Post by on  22nd  September  2013

The front line

John Gaye, Vice Chairman of Trustees at Dogs Trust, describes the experience of working on the campaign in Guwahati:

“On the Home Page of the Mission Rabies website you will find the latest “count”. To those reading it at home it is an up to date figure towards the goal of 50,000. To those involved on the ground, whether as volunteer vets or vet nurses from abroad, Indian vets or the many dog-catchers employed locally, each one of those vaccinations is a personal achievement.

Today I joined the Guwahati teams at 4 am, just before dawn, and followed them through a very full day until after darkness had fallen on this capital city of Assam in North East India, sandwiched between Bangladesh and Burma.

Split into four teams, each team is given its own target and off they set to cover a specific area in the municipality or surrounding area. Many of the teams are highly qualified vets or vet nurses but the absolutely essential part of each team are the dog-catchers. Without the skills, energy and motivation of the latter, the former are just highly qualified men and women holding a fully-loaded needle in their hand to no purpose.

To catch a dog requires many personal skills and a large element of both coordination and team-work to prevent the trapping and catching becoming just many individuals chasing the more fleet-of-foot canine targets.

Most of the dog-catchers I saw today have only been doing this for a few days and have been specially recruited for the project. But they are very well led and highly motivated so some of the catching would have impressed even that great Tamil Nadu dog-catching Guru Nigel Otter.

Black dogs in dark courtyards at night must be the ultimate feat of dog-capture and caused no problem to Guwahati Team B. But to me, as an interested spectator, the biggest impression was of the pride and excitement as the team approached their target of 125 for the day. So much energy went into each dog caught or tracked down in gardens, muddy lanes, main arterial roads or even once in a large government research station building. 

At 4 am we were the only vehicles and people on the road and so it was only the community dogs running loose that were available. Three hours later people were up and about and many of them brought out their own family pets to be vaccinated and marked accordingly with green paint. Then each vaccination was recorded on a smart phone, together with details of the animal and its exact location identified by GPS before the dog was released back whence it came.

At 9.45 am all the teams were stood down as the thermometer reached 35º and, more importantly, the humidity went through the roof. But they all turned out again at 3 pm, despite some severe local flooding from the afternoon monsoon and they worked through into the darkness for another three hours.

In the afternoon I was with Team B when they hit their target for the day of 125 dogs. There were shrieks of joy, a lot of high fiving and much back slapping as everyone dodged the heavy evening traffic on one of the city’s major arterial roads. Then, with many of the exultant team hanging out of their truck, they drove home telling everyone they came across of their achievement.

To the home teams of WVS and Dogs Trust, and all those interested in the Mission Rabies project, it is just another 125 towards the important and ambitious overall target for this month; to all those involved on the ground each one of those 125 dogs caught, vaccinated, recorded and released back into the community had required a huge amount of energy, skilled determination and much hard work. Each one of that huge number on the Home Page means so much to everyone involved throughout the length and breadth of India.”

Post by on  19th  September  2013

On the road again

The mission is mobile! The second stage of the campaign began earlier this week, relocating to the northern and eastern checkpoints. Building on the fantastic results from the south, our new teams in Bikaner, Ranchi, Guwahati, Kolkata, Tirupati and Bhubaneswar have already pushed the total number of dogs vaccinated to over 35,000. This means we will reach three-quarters of our target in a few days’ time. 

On Sunday we breathed a sigh of relief as our beloved truck was released from customs in Mumbai. For those who aren’t aware, this custom-built vehicle is an all-terrain, completely self-sufficient mobile veterinary hospital. During this month's vaccination drive it will act as a flagship for the campaign, generating public interest and facilitating education programmes about rabies control. After September it will return to each vaccination checkpoint for two to four weeks at a time, running training courses for local vets so that they have the skills and confidence to run their own ABC programmes and begin to control the local dog population. The truck is a very important part of Mission Rabies, so we’re glad that it is finally back on the road and able to fulfil its role - you can track its progress  here .

Last week we received the dreadful news that the team in Madurai had met a six-year-old girl being brought into hospital suffering from rabies. We were all horrified by this, but we know that it is a tragically common occurrence in India. We believe that no one should die of rabies and hope that our work will make this a reality. 

This is what inspires the incredible commitment being demonstrated by those carrying out the mass vaccination drive; it is a really tough job, with work often starting at 5am because the heat becomes unbearable later in the day. This picture of the amazing  TOLFA  team shows just how physical dog catching is:

The first instalment of the Mission Rabies video blog went live this morning. It was recorded in Goa during the launch week of the campaign and features our founder, Luke Gamble. You can watch it in the gallery, where you will also find an ever-increasing set of fabulous photo albums. A further four episodes of the blog will be released over the next few days so keep checking back for those.


Post by on  10th  September  2013

Catch, jab, mark, release. Repeat x49,999.

Those of you who have been following the updates on Facebook and Twitter will know that our first week has been pretty exciting. An average of 2,600 doses of canine rabies vaccine have been administered every day, with over 18,000 dogs treated by day seven. It is likely that we will be very close to half of the 50,000 target by the end of today! 

We’re delighted to have received such a positive response from the public, which has been vital to the success of the campaign. Mass awareness was created in the weeks preceding the launch through the distribution of posters and leaflets, and these efforts have proved worthwhile as residents have readily brought their dogs for vaccination. In many checkpoints the programme has had such support that we have been able to double our expected target. Dr Appu Pillai Murugan, senior veterinary co-ordinator, explains the effect this has had in Madurai: "we had initially planned to vaccinate 5,000 dogs, but due to the overwhelming response from the public we have revised this target. We may be able to treat as many as 8,000 dogs if the same trend continues". 


Every dog that is vaccinated is marked with paint or a collar and is recorded in a smartphone app called Epicollect (when you see pictures of Mission Rabies volunteers tapping away on their phones, this is what they are doing). The map below shows just one area of Goa that has been targeted, with each dot representing a single vaccination. There are many, many more maps like this! 

With results like this coming in it’s clear that we have an extraordinary group of people making Mission Rabies a success; people like Nagaraj, one of our skilled catchers, who nets over 100 dogs a day in Madurai and has been known to get two in one swoop! And you can see our Nagpur catching team in action in this video recorded by a Delhi radio station (this is the most humane method of dog catching as it doesn’t hurt and causes minimal distress).

This is by no means an easy job. The days are long and hard; it is usual to walk over four miles in a morning and the work itself is physically demanding, taking place on busy streets and in high temperatures. The advice from our first group of overseas volunteers to the second is to remember to pack comfortable footwear, very high factor sun cream, a hat and blister plasters! But as one member of the team says, it is a small sacrifice: “we are having the most amazing time here. The work is hard but great and the Indian teams are fantastic, thank you so much for making this happen!”

Sadly our first rabid dog was captured by Nagaraj on Friday. The case was diagnosed at the Department of Biotechnology at Chennai College. A member of the film crew working with the team in Madurai at the time said: "reality hits when you realise how serious this disease is and how easily it could be contracted". Another of our volunteers came across a little boy in Erode who was on his way to hospital for his post-dog bite prophylaxis. Encountering situations like this just days into the campaign provides a powerful reminder of how important this work is. 

Our second official photographer, Naomi Kenton, has joined us today so we’re looking forward to having some more beautiful images to share with you. To do them justice we now also have a shiny new gallery to display them in - head over to  www.missionrabies.com/gallery   and see what you think. 

Next week the campaign moves north to Bhubhaneswar, Kolkata, Ranchi, Guwahati, Bikaner and Tirupati, so the teams there are busy making the final preparations. In a few days’ time the rest of our brilliant overseas volunteers will be making their way to India to help us replicate the fantastic results we’ve had in the south, so we wish them a safe journey.

Post by on  2nd  September  2013

We have lift off!

With day two of the vaccination programme in full swing, Mission Rabies is off to a flying start. Our official launch took place on Saturday in Goa, with simultaneous events taking place at the other southern checkpoints, generating much interest within the Indian media. 

The teams of local staff and overseas volunteers (still recovering from their long-haul flights and jetlag), donned their yellow Mission Rabies t-shirts and took to the streets to begin their work yesterday. The results are still coming in, but we can confirm that our group in Erode, in collaboration with IPAN and People For Animals Coimbatore, managed to vaccinate 172 dogs in a single morning, while in Goa they smashed their daily target by treating an incredible 548 dogs! A fantastic result for the first day.

There are new features coming to www.missionrabies.com - check out the 'vacinnometer' on the homepage to stay up-to-date with the latest number of dogs treated. The gallery is nearly ready to go live, so we will be able to showcase the many great images that are being captured. We are also working on a lovely new map that will show how many dogs have been vaccinated in each region, as well as the truck’s progress as it makes its way across India. 

In the meantime, we are posting regular updates on all the exciting developments, including some superb photos, to Facebook  and Twitter , so don't forget to 'like' or 'follow' us if you haven't already.

Post by on  23rd  August  2013

Gearing up for launch...

As the launch of Mission Rabies draws ever closer, here’s a quick update on some of the final preparations that have been taking place!

Logistics: Our team have travelled to all the Indian checkpoints over the last few weeks, working closely with the fantastic partners who will initiate the start of Mission Rabies. Huge thanks to the organisations and charities who are leading the teams in each of the checkpoint areas. 

Many animal handling courses are also running in preparation for the project; here's the team who took part in the training in Guwahati last week:

Key events: There will be a launch event in Goa on 31st August, hosted by the IARPFA and several other brilliant Goan charities, NGOs and animal welfare bodies. Our closing ceremony, taking place on 28th September in Assam, will coincide with World Rabies Day and mark the launch of Mission Rabies as an entity.

Epidemiological aspects: The Epicollect forms are now finalised and have been given the seal of approval. It’s taken some working out, but we should be able to generate a truly unique set of data from the project so it’s great to have a working system that's ready to go.

Resources: We have taken on a small marketing and PR team, so please do email them for any resources you may require. We will be providing a wealth of information via the new gallery and resources sections of www.missionrabies.com in the near future. 

With a project of this scale, involving around 500 people, there will undoubtedly be some interesting things that crop up in September, so watch this space for the news coming directly from India in just over one weeks’ time!

Post by Kate Shervell on  30th  July  2013

Land ahoy!

After a month at sea, travelling over 11,000km from Southampton via the Mediterranean Sea, through the Suez Canal, the Red Sea and across the Arabian Sea, the ship carrying the Mission Rabies truck has finally reached dry land at Mumbai docks! Our Logistics Manager, Antony, was there to unload the truck and make sure that everything had survived the sea crossing intact!

Despite the huge distance already covered, the real journey is only just about to begin! From the 1st September, the truck will set off on a 6,000km overland adventure, from the beaches of Goa and the tropical backwaters of Kerala, to the fringes of the Himalayas and the land of the one-horned rhino. Along the way it will stop at 11 vaccination checkpoints, assisting our veterinary teams of over 250 vets, nurses, paravets and dog catchers as they vaccinate 50,000 dogs in just one month!

There are still a couple of volunteer places left on the trip this September - contact kate@wvs.org.uk if you'd like to take part!

Post by Kate Shervell on  13th  July  2013

The team in action

The Mission Rabies team have been hard at work with the staff from  Humane Animal Society, Coimbatore  for the past three days and have so far vaccinated an incredible 1279 dogs! This is a great trial run for the team, ready for September, and has been an opportunity to test out the data collection smartphone app,  Epicollect , which we hope to use in September to give us a real-time map of when and where each dog has been rabies vaccinated! 

Our team of expert dog handlers, about to leave for Coimbatore

The Commisioner of Coimbatore marks the first dog vaccinated

Team vehicles ready for the vaccination drive

The catching team head for a garbage disposal area in the hunt for dogs

A 'net's eye view'! Catching street dogs with nets is the most humane method.

Dr Aswin with Venkatesh in action - catching and vaccinating!

Catching dogs in crowded streets is a real art!

The teams work efficiently through the streets to catch and vaccinate as many dogs as possible

Non-toxic paint is used to mark each dog as it is vaccinated to avoid accidentally vaccinating the same dogs twice and to allow us to check we are reaching at least 70% or more of the dog population to prevent rabies transmission

Dr Vinay vaccinates a community dog

Dr Vishnu from Humane Animal Society hard at work

Our vaccination teams attract a lot of interest in the streets!

Not every dog is grateful to receive their rabies shots!

Dr Jawahar vaccinating some young puppies. Dogs and puppies of all ages are vaccinated during the campaign

Expert animal handler, Mahadevan, assists Dr Vinay

The teams keep working, even in the dark! 

Thank you to all the amazing vets and catchers for your hard work! Keep going to reach 3000!

Post by Kate Shervell on  10th  July  2013

Catching dogs in Coimbatore

This week, three of the vets from the WVS International Training Centre (ITC), along with a group of our expert dog catchers, travelled to Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, to help with a mass rabies vaccination drive being organised by one of our associated charities, Humane Animal Society. The drive aims to vaccinate 2000 dogs in Coimbatore over the next 2 weeks and will act as a great practice run for our teams to polish up their skills ready for September.

The drive also provides the opportunity for six trainee dog catchers from People for Animals Orissa, who will be working for Mission Rabies in Bhubaneshwar, to work alongside skilled catchers and learn the methods involved, ready for September. All our dog catchers are trained to use nets, so that the process doesn't cause the dogs any pain or injury and allows the vets to safely and quickly administer the vaccines.

Dr Vinay, Dr Jawahar and Dr Aswin, from the WVS ITC (pictured in the blue scrub tops, below), will each be leading individual Mission Rabies vaccination checkpoints in September and so the work in Coimbatore will help them to spot any potential problems and fine-tune the organisation of the teams before the launch of our 50,000 dog campaign! The vaccination campaign has got off to a very promising start - Dr Vinay told me that today they managed to catch and vaccinate 372 dogs with just two teams - during Mission Rabies, each checkpoint will send out four teams a day!

Well done to the team so far and hope your success continues over the coming two weeks!

Post by Kate Shervell on  5th  July  2013

Making plans and making the news!

While the truck is still on a ship, crossing the Indian ocean, this week saw our team head out on the road to visit and make final preparations with the vaccination checkpoint co-ordinators. Dagmar, our Senior Veterinary Co-ordinator, and Carl, Digital Support, left Germany and the UK for the first stop on a 6 week trip around the south India checkpoints, beginning in Goa, whilst Dr Shashi, one of our Indian Senior Veterinary Co-ordinators headed to Bhubaneshwar in Orissa state to visit People for Animals OrissaMeanwhile, back in the UK, Anna, our North India Volunteer Co-ordinator, and I met up with Rachel and Jordana from Tree of Life for Animals (TOLFA), one of three charities who will be running our vaccination checkpoint in Bikaner, Rajasthan.

These meetings have been a great opportunity to run through the plans and put faces to the names of many people who have been working tirelessly over the past few months to make sure that the September mass vaccination drive will be a success!

In Goa, dodging the monsoon rains, Dagmar and Carl visited the facilities of International Animal Rescue and met up with the organisation's vet, Astrid, as well as many members of the team and inpatients at the veterinary hospital. They also met Mrs Norma Alvares, from People for Animals Goa, one of the other organisations helping to run Mission Rabies in Goa, and their visit even made the national news! 

We'll have more updates from our teams on the ground over the coming weeks, but for now, I will leave you with some images of the people and patients of International Animal Rescue!

Astrid and Dagmar, working on Mission Rabies plans

Street dogs are caught, brought to the International Animal Rescue hospital and neutered, before being returned to the exact place they were picked up. There is room for over 80 dogs in their spotlessly clean kennels!

The Indian monsoon...

This little dog was found trapped in a well with his hind legs tied together. Luckily he was uninjured and already has several potential homes to go to, once he has been castrated!

Some of the most important team members - the dog catchers! Without their skills, we would never be able to run Mission Rabies!

Post by James Tubb on  14th  June  2013

At Fitzpatrick Referrals

The Mission Rabies Truck at Fitzpatrick Referrals yesterday!

Post by Kate Shervell on  14th  June  2013

Packing, packing, packing...

There’s been a lot of packing going on recently. Last week I packed my bags and headed to India to meet with our South and North India Veterinary Directors, Dr Ilona and Dr Sashanka, as well as our Logistics Co-ordinator, Antony, and other members of the Mission Rabies India team. It was a hugely inspiring visit and made me even more certain that as a united force we can really take on rabies in India and save lives. Meanwhile, our CEO, Luke, and WVS Managing Director, James, were packing for two weeks on the road, visiting Dogs Trust rehoming centres, vet schools, veterinary specialist referral centres and even a local Dorset primary school to test drive the truck on UK roads before it hits India and to show off the superb onboard facilities to as many of our generous donors and sponsors as possible.

The UK truck tour was a huge success and generated a massive amount of interest and support. You can see a snippet of the tour, featured on BBC Dorset, by visiting http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-22855321

With the excitement of the truck tour over, it was time for the WVS UK team to get together today for the final packing of the truck – taking apart, checking and carefully storing the life-saving veterinary equipment, ready for the truck to depart by ship for a month-long sail to India beginning next week. It will next touch dry land in Mumbai, ready for the Mission to begin!

Post by Luke Gamble on  10th  June  2013

The first operation!

The first operation in the Mission Rabies truck!

Post by James Tubb on  31st  May  2013

The Mission Rabies UK launch

The Mission Rabies truck at the Harefield Dogs Trust Rehoming Centre for the launch of the campaign to sponsors and partners


Post by Luke Gamble on  29th  May  2013

The collection of the beast

The Mission Rabies Truck is ready and being collected for the start of the UK tour!

Post by Luke Gamble on  21st  May  2013

The beast is ready to roooaaarrr

Time is marching on – only three and a half months before the launch! Biggest news is that the truck of power is ready to be picked up on Friday!! A huge yellow beast with a 6-cylinder in-line 7.2 litre engine (326hp), delivering 240 kW with a maximum torque of 1300 Nm at engine speeds from 1200 to 1600 rpm…. or so I am told. Most importantly it has loads of lights, a siren and a massive horn. Winner. Just have to figure out how to turn it on and we'll be away…

First stop will be central London. Always a good idea to pick up a 25tonne truck and take it for a spin somewhere challenging. It won't be a patch on what we'll experience in India and we need to get some practice in before we head over! We have a photoshoot at Marble Arch and then off on a tour of the Dogs Trust Rehoming Centres, UK Vet schools and a couple of the top referral veterinary practices who are all kindly sponsoring us. If we scratch it, we'll be in trouble so here's hoping we don't have anymore 'wing mirror incidents' as per the driving course…. Look forward to letting you know how the first drive goes!

Post by Kate Shervell on  1st  April  2013

We're on the road!

After months of preparations, the Mission Rabies truck is about to set off from the workshop in Nottingham, where it has been under wraps as the amazing team at Vipex have been hard at work, building the high-spec vehicle and kitting out the state-of-the-art operating theatre. The truck looks incredible and will allow us to carry out surgical training and provide outreach veterinary care across India, as well as being a flagship to drum up support and interest from the local communities we visit.

First stop for the truck is the British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA) Congress in Birmingham, UK on the 4th-7th April. The truck will be parked up outside the Congress and will be an opportunity for vets, nurses and vet students to see it for the first time, as well as chat to members of the Mission Rabies team about the project. We really hope that if you are coming to BSAVA Congress you will make time to come and say hello to us and have a look around the truck - hopefully you will be inspired to volunteer with us in September too! Have a look at the Intro page of this site to download a volunteer information pack, or email Kate Shervell at WVS for more information.

Even if you aren't able to see come and see the truck at BSAVA, we need you to get involved in making the vehicle as eye-catching as possible. 

We need your dog to be a part of the Mission Rabies team - visit our Facebook app and upload pictures of him or her to be included in the design of the truck!

the next few months we'll be busy touring the uk with the truck, visiting dogs trust centres and university vet schools, so if you see us on the road, give us a wave - we'll be hard to miss!

We hope to see you at BSAVA Congress!