Implementing Partner: Mayhew Afghanistan

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Afghanistan recently experienced a change in government, leading to chaotic scenes at Kabul airport as countries evacuated their personnel and individual Afghan citizens sought to leave the country. Dogs were also caught up in this chaos as some animal advocates sought, mostly unsuccessfully, to evacuate rescued dogs from the country. Mayhew Afghanistan has probably had the best relationship with the Afghan authorities of various animal groups working in the country. In 2017, they persuaded the Kabul municipal authorities to stop culling street dogs (they had been culling approximately 15-20,000 dogs a year) and launch a rabies vaccination drive instead. [Note: the culling of about half the street dogs annually had no apparent impact on the overall street dog population.]

The Mayhew conducted surveys to determine how many dogs lived on the streets of Kabul and to identify how many vaccine doses would be required to vaccinate at least 70% of the street dogs. As a result, we now have a reasonably good estimate of the street dog population (around 30,000), and there may be a further 10,000 owned dogs. As of September 2021, the Mayhew Afghanistan team had administered almost 80,000 vaccine doses and sterilized 21,000 dogs. The number of recorded dog bites in the city had fallen by over fifty percent, and human rabies cases were close to zero (and much lower than during the dog culling period).

The Mayhew Afghanistan team was also able to visit the airport and rescue some of the dogs left there during the chaotic days at the end of August. Mayhew Afghanistan has now been authorized (on September 12) by the new authorities to restart their vaccination and sterilization program. In October 2021, the Mayhew Afghanistan team had sterilized around 600 dogs. We would argue that a big part of Mayhew Afghanistan’s ability to continue their vaccination and sterilization program under the new authorities has been their careful documentation of what has been accomplished and the related impact for both dogs and people.