Dharamsala, September 21st – As “Himachal Pradesh emerges as champion of vaccination campaign”, says PM Narendra Modi in regard to Covid vaccination, let’s see if it can also be the leader in rabies vaccination. Starting next week, Dharamsala Animal Rescue (DAR) will hold its annual mass rabies vaccination camp beginning on World Rabies Day, September 28, for 10 days.

The DAR staff, in partnership with the Department of Animal Husbandry (thanks to Dr. Navneet Sharma, Senior Veterinary Officer), will divide into teams to reach a goal of vaccinating 2000 dogs against rabies. DAR will be in contact with local street dog feeders ahead of time to coordinate the vaccinations in their areas. Each dog will be marked with paint post vaccination to ensure no duplication of efforts and each vaccine will be recorded per village.

Rabies Still Exists in Kangra

Covid has taken over the attention of everyone, but rabies should not be forgotten. From January 2021 through August, DAR rescued 20 dogs with suspected rabies. All needed to be euthanized for the safety of the community, staff and the welfare of the animals.

On August 28th, DAR was called to the Upper Barol area by a local feeder who noticed one dog who had always been friendly suddenly became aggressive. Luckily, the feeder knew that this change in behavior is an indicator that the dog may be rabid, so she immediately called DAR. The dog was quarantined and monitored for 2 days.

Seeing more rabies symptoms appear: there was no choice but to euthanize him. Social media posts were simultaneously put into circulation to alert members of society with the reminder to get their post exposure protocol treatment if they were bitten.

Rabies is 99% fatal – but 100% preventable

Rabies is an endemic disease in India, killing approximately 20,000 people per year. Once physical symptoms begin, it is too late. Last time DAR did a population count, in 2019, (none in 2020 due to Covid) the scientific survey estimated 4200 dogs in area covering from Kotwali Bazar down to Sakoh, over to Yol and up to Khanyara. See the full map by clicking on the image – the red outlined area is DAR target area.

According to the World Health Organization and the Global Alliance for Rabies Control, 70% of the dog population (roaming and pet) needs to be vaccinated against rabies for eradication of the disease in high risk areas such as India. Our goal of 2000 dogs, if achieved, will only reach 47% of the above region, so the community still needs to follow post bite procedure if bit by an unknown dog:

  • Immediately wash and flush the wound for 15 minutes with soap and water, or water alone 
  • Get to Zonal Hospital immediately (or hospital in the area if not in the Kangra District of H.P.) for a series of post exposure vaccinations, and administration of rabies immunoglobulin (RIG) to wounds if deemed necessary.  

Each year DAR increases the number of vaccinations, but with a small staff and limited funds, they are still not able to reach 70%. To achieve this goal, DAR will need additional help from the community and local government.

Still today, in India, 1 person dies of rabies every 30 minutes, and 40% of the time it is a child under 15. To learn more about rabies, take the DAR Rabies Quiz at this link:


India’s street dog population is estimated to be between 35–40 million and accounts for the highest number of rabies cases in the world with approximately 20,000 people dying from it every year. Dharamsala Animal Rescue’s mission is to help resolve the human/street dog conflict in Dharamsala by providing several key programs: rabies vaccination, spay/neuter, street animal rescue, street animal feeding, local adoption, and community education. Founded in 2008,  DAR received the World Rabies Day 2019 Asia Award and has been a recipient of the SPCA International’s Shelter Support Fund since 2015.


Source: Dharamsala Animal Rescue,
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