Desi Apnao, Rabies Bhagao (Eradicate Rabies, Not Stray Dogs)

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The REC graduates passing on rabies prevention knowledge at Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya school through interactive activities. Photo

After completing GARC’s Rabies Educator Certificate, a group of students from Enactus Motilal Nehru College carried out rabies awareness campaigns for other school students and for children from a nearby slum.

They called the campaign Desi Apnao, Rabies Bhagao (Eradicate Rabies, Not Stray Dogs). As a part of a rabies awareness drive to celebrate World Rabies Day, they held interactive sessions August through September with students at the Ryan International School, Gurgaon; with children from the slum at Sanjay Gandhi Camp, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi; and at Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya, a boys’ government school in Vikaspuri, New Delhi.

Children from Sanjay Gandhi Camp enjoying the presentations by the REC graduates. Photo: Bhavya Taneja

The awareness drives began with an enactment of a stray dog being teased and hit by teenagers in order to give a glimpse of the treatment given to stray dogs in India. When asked, “Was the way the dog was treated right?” all the children shouted a big “no!”

Later the youngsters were asked questions like “Who likes pet dogs?” and “Who likes stray dogs?” prompting comments such as “I don’t like stray dogs because they are dirty and ugly” and “They bite us.” The children were really intrigued to learn more about the distinctions made between pedigree and desi (Indian street) dogs and surprised to learn that the desi breed was better adapted to India and able to live more healthily.

The awareness drive covered many topics including avoiding dog bites, what exactly is rabies, and the laws governing cruelty to animals. The REC students demonstrated all the do’s and don’ts in the event of a dog bite, and a few children shared their experiences of being bitten by a dog and the procedure they followed. The children learned how to recognize a vaccinated dog (by the notched ear given at the time the dog is vaccinated).

Teaching children the do’s and don’ts for dog bites and that staying safe around dogs saves lives. Photo: Bhavya Taneja

In some sessions, the students also watched a play Kutton se Nafrat Hatao, Haath Badhao DESI Apno by the team members in collaboration with People for Animals (PFA), an animal welfare NGO. The play showcased various myths related to the street dogs and the treatment given to them, focusing on animal protection laws and how people’s participation in the DESI (Duty to Empathize, Sterilize and Immunize) Model can help in making a safer environment for the desi dogs.

The sessions were very insightful and engaging, and everyone participated with a lot of enthusiasm. A quick recap session at the end helped us to see the change in the students’ mind-sets, and the children promised to look after the desi breed and not fear them because of rabies and other myths. 

A class VII student from Ryan International School, Gurgaon was quoted as saying, “We would've never treated desi dogs with love and care had we not seen this presentation.” A child from Sanjay Gandhi Camp shared the story of his desi pet dog named Jacky. If like these children, all of us are able to change our mind-set, we can remove the stigma and live in harmony with our desi dogs!

Contributed by Bhavya Taneja, the president of Enactus Motilal Nehru College, in New Delhi and Navya Puri, member of Enactus Motilal Nehru College on behalf of the REC students who carried out the awareness drive.