Humane Animal Handling Training 2011

Download the Humane Animal Handling Training - Phase One Report, March 2011.

For more photos visit Flickr (photos courtesy of Global Wildlife Resources) and VBB News for the local media release. 

Vets Beyond Borders, the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), the Fondation Brigitte Bardot (FBB) and Global Wildlife Resources (GWR) are partnering together to deliver a sustainable National Training and Certification Programme for Animal Handlers in India. This inaugural programme in 2011 will elevate and maintain standards for dog catching and handling across India and significantly improve the public perception and overall success of Animal Birth Control - Anti Rabies (ABC-AR) programmes.

HAH opening group photoPhoto: Opening day at the 2011 Humane Animal Handling Course India. Pictured are the official guests at the Opening Ceremony, including the Chief Medical Officer of Gurgoan Municpal Corporation; Dr Vino Sharma, the Director of Jeevashram Shelter; Major General Dr Kharb, the Chariman of AWBI; VBB's Catherine Schuetze; Dr Mark Johnson, course facilitator from Global Wildlife Resources as well as trainess from all over India.

ABC-AR programmes are being carried out throughout India as the legally prescribed method for dog population and rabies control, endorsed by the World Health Organisation. However there is a lack of technically trained personnel available to deliver these programmes. The AWBI published Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for ABC-AR programmes in 2009. Agencies carrying out ABC-AR programmes are required to adhere to these SOP’s, including a humane prescribed manner of dog catching and handling, however there is currently no training being offered on this. Vets Beyond Borders is committed to providing training to Indian personnel through VBB Vet-Train, in partnership with the AWBI and other government and non-governmental agencies, in order to increase the capacity and standards of ABC-AR programmes being carried out throughout India along the guidelines of the AWBI SOP’s. This is in keeping with VBB’s core goals of improving animal welfare and public health.

Effective and humane dog catching and handling is key to any successful ABC-AR programme. Advanced dog catching skills are required in situations where rabid or very aggressive dogs must be caught to protect the public, and the feral dogs who are hard to handle are often left due to difficulty in catching them by untrained personnel. Selectively catching the friendly street dogs and leaving the feral ones un-desexed and unvaccinated will not contribute to a successful programme. Inhumane methods of dog catching eg. the pole and noose and iron tongs are not only ruled against by the AWBI, but lead to a negative public perception and rejection of the ABC-AR programmes by the community due to animal welfare violations. This has happened most recently in Amenhabad and Delhi where there has been a public outcry with national and international media attention on the inhumane catching methods.


Some of the benefits from humane handling training are:

  • improved functioning of ABC-AR programmes through effective capture of hard to capture and handle animals,
  • improved public perception of ABC-AR programmes and dogcatchers through demonstration of humane handling and capture methods,
  • reduction of rabies cases in animals and humans through effective selective capture of suspect rabies cases, and
  • reduction in dog bite cases through effective capture of aggressive dogs.

Project Summary 

Phase One- Train the Trainers

Two to three senior and experienced animal handlers from each regional training centre will attend a six-day Master Animal Handler Training module in Gurgoan, February- March 2011. Dr Mark R. Johnson DVM, Executive Director and Wildlife Veterinarian, Global Wildlife Resources Inc. who has extensive experience in animal handling and capture and training of animal handlers will facilitate this training.

 Firstly, the trainees will be taught advanced animal handling techniques and secondly, how to teach these to others. They will be given copies of training materials and undertake a commitment to train at least 20 other animal handlers (dog catchers or paravets) from their region in the coming year, coordinated by their employing organisation. This would constitute a minimum of 3 x 4 day courses throughout the year, which is sustainable for most organisations.

AWBI will certify the graduates of Phase One as Master Animal Handlers and of Phase Two as Certified Animal Handlers, and will require all its ABC-AR grant recipients to train and certify their dogcatchers, adopt the new catching methods, and abandon methods that are not prescribed by the AWBI Standard Operating Protocols, for example iron tongs, pole and noose.

VBB will provide each Master Animal Handler with a video of Dr Mark’s lectures and practical demonstrations, translated into 3 regional languages for their use in ongoing regional training. Training handbooks will also be provided, along with lesson plans and breakdown of educational outcomes and assessment criteria. This will ensure consistency of training, handling and capture methods, and facilitate an accreditation system that maintains national standards for regional trainees.

While the course will concentrate on dogs, capture of other species eg feral pigs and cattle, is also of concern to municipal corporations and will be touched on during the course.

Dates: 3 x 6 day units; 14-19th, 22-27th March, 2-7th March 2011
Location: Gurgoan
Training Facilitator: Dr Mark Johnson
Collaborating Partners: Gurgoan Municipal Corporation, Animal Welfare Board of India, Brigitte Bardot Foundation

Phase Two- Regional Training

It is planned that over the following months each regional training centre will strategically plan training sessions for animal handlers (dog catchers, paravets) from their region. This training will take four days per group and be based at each regional ABC-AR programme using their equipment and vehicles. AWBI and VBB will assist with coordination of these sessions, maintain a central record of trainees and issue certificates on successful completion of the course.

Assistance will be provided to trainees and their employers (animal welfare groups, Government or Municipal corporations) to implement the new handling and capture methods learnt, including procurement of capture equipment and mentoring of dogcatchers. Dr Mark Johnson will provide online resources through his website and mentoring to the Master Animal Handlers from Phase one as they become Humane Animal Handling Trainers. AWBI and VBB will provide training materials, translation of these materials into new languages as required, management and general advisory assistance.

Accommodation, food and all training materials will be provided to trainees during Phase One training. Partner Organisations will bear the cost of transport to the training venue.

VBB would like to thank the Fondation Brigitte Bardot for their generous sponsorship of this project.