Mayhew has been working in Kabul, Afghanistan since the early 2000s but was officially registered as an NGO in Afghanistan in 2016.Contact our international team
• Eradicate canine-mediated rabies in Kabul through a Mass Canine Rabies Vaccination programme
• Control and contain the free-roaming dog population of Kabul in a humane way
• Build a safer and healthier community for both dogs and Kabul residents
• Capacity building for the veterinary sector in Afghanistan
“2021 was a challenging year for Mayhew Afghanistan, the regime change caused some disruption to our programmes but in a short period of time we’ve managed to resume both programmes (TNR and rabies vaccination), which are now running at full capacity. We’re pleased to be helping the animals and people of Afghanistan once again.”
There are many causes that can lead to an overpopulation of stray and free-roaming dogs, including the unregulated breeding of unneutered animals, limited knowledge and acceptance of neutering, lack of veterinary provision and preventative animal care and welfare and poor waste management.
Kabul Municipality historically controlled the free-roaming dog population by poisoning the dogs with strychnine hidden in meat. Strychnine poisoning causes convulsions and asphyxiation and is a slow and very painful death for an animal. Culling dogs has been proven to be ineffective in both population management and disease control, is a barbaric practice and also not cost-effective.
In 2015, Mayhew carried out the first ever Dog Population Survey in Kabul, for which we were able to enlist the help of vet and vet student volunteers to assist us in tracking the dogs across Kabul. Armed with this data, we were able to develop a strategy to humanely control and contain the dog population and prevent the spread of disease.
In January 2017, our proposed strategy was accepted by the local and national authorities and Mayhew signed a landmark agreement with Kabul Municipality to stop the inhumane culling of dogs in the city. The first phase of our strategy, the mass canine rabies vaccination programme began in August 2017 and is presently in its third annual cycle.
Our team comprises all local Afghans and we also retrained and rehabilitated several of the Kabul Municipality’s dog catchers, changing them from dog-killers to dog-handlers.
In July 2019, Mayhew Afghanistan opened Afghanistan’s first city-wide Animal Birth Control Centre which allowed us to start the second phase of our strategy - the Trap, Neuter, Release (TNR) programme for Kabul’s free-roaming dogs.
Rabies is a 99.9% fatal disease. More than 96% of human deaths from rabies stem from bites by infected dogs and most of its victims are children. Sadly, rabies has been endemic in Afghanistan and the authorities dealt with it by culling the dogs, which was completely ineffective. Moreover, access to human rabies vaccines is extremely limited in Afghanistan and beyond the means for the average Afghan.
It has been proven that mass canine rabies vaccination is the most cost-effective way of eradicating rabies. To reach ‘herd immunity’ in a dog population, a minimum of 70% of the dogs need to be vaccinated to break the virus chain and done over consecutive years.
Mayhew Afghanistan’s teams of dog-catchers and vet vaccinators are now in the third annual cycle of vaccination in Kabul, having vaccinated over 57,489 dogs. Since the programme started in 2018 and 2019 there have been no recorded human rabies deaths in Kabul, and the number of cases of dogs with rabies has dropped. Each district of Kabul is covered, ensuring 70% of the dogs are vaccinated in any one area with post-vaccination surveys carried out regularly.
We believe that education and changing human behaviour are key to improving animal welfare and creating safer communities for animals and people.
Within all of our international programmes, we spend time working with local communities to support them as well as delivering programmes for the street animals.
Before we started our mass rabies vaccination programme in Kabul, the community were understandably wary around the free-roaming dogs. Now our Community Engagement team follow up any concerns around dogs and dog behaviour, providing a hotline for Kabul residents. The team have reached out to schools, colleges and community groups to inform them about rabies and dog bite prevention, behaviour around street dogs and animal welfare in general. And we are also working with local district elders to ensure the right information is being disseminated.
Veterinary Surgeon Dr Abdul-Jalil Mohammadzai DVM has been working with Mayhew for more than 18 years. Known as “Dr Mo”, he is currently the Country Director of Mayhew Afghanistan and directs our programmes as well as ensuring constructive relations with the relevant government departments involved in disease control and dog population management.
Splitting his time between London and Kabul, Dr Mo has also helped support the rebuilding of the clinic at Kabul University and helped Kabul Zoo, not just recover from total destruction, but also transformed it into a well maintained, educational facility.
Dr Mo has achieved some incredible milestones in the past decade and his dedication has saved the lives of many humans and dogs in Kabul. Thanks to his hard work, Dr Mo was given the Association of Dogs and Cats Homes (ADCH) first Special Recognition Award in 2017. They recognised his innovative work helping thousands of animals in both London and Afghanistan. In 2018 he was the recipient of the Daily Mirror/RSPCA/Webbox Animal Hero Special Recognition Award. In early 2019, Dr Mo was also listed on the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons honours list for his ground-breaking work in Kabul and received a World Rabies Day Award for his endeavours.