• CHAL USA ABC AR Program
  • CHAL USA ABC AR Program
  • CHAL USA ABC AR Program


Main activities of CHAL-USA


In the metropolitan city of Chennai, there has not been a single reported case of rabies among humans for several years now.

This is thanks to the untiring efforts of the Chennai-based Blue Cross of India, a 50-year-old animal welfare organization, which launched the ABC-AR (Animal Birth Control-Anti Rabies vaccination) program more than four decades ago.

The organization rounds up stray dogs, which are then taken to its shelters and spayed or neutered. They are then vaccinated against rabies and released into the very neighborhood from where they were picked up.

By reducing the capacity of street dogs to overpopulate, the overall likelihood of negative encounters between humans and stray dogs is reduced.

Research has shown that the health of a dog living in a community of sterilized dogs is buffered.

As the dogs cease to be perceived as a health threat, there will be little or no need for local governments to engage in the kinds of horrific wholesale slaughter of dogs by the catch-and-kill procedure that had been in practice until a couple of decades ago in some metropolitan cities of India.

Today, a number of other animal welfare organizations in India are engaged in the ABC-AR program. More are needed to check the spread of the dreadful disease among India’s street dogs, estimated to be between 8 and 20 million.

CHAL USA’s mission is to support proven programs enhancing the welfare of street dogs, as well as the human communities in which they live in villages, towns and cities in South Asia.


Our first and counting

In early 2014, CHAL made its first grant raised through donations from generous supporters.

The money was given to Blue Cross of India, which is collaborating with ‘Mission Rabies’ to cover the cost of catching, sterlizing and vaccinating approximately 1000 street dogs.

In September 2013, Mission Rabies launched with a massive campaign, powered by veterinarians and volunteers from 14 countries, to achieve over 60,000 dog vaccinations in just 28 days across 12 locations in India. They now aim to vaccinate 2 million dogs over the next three years in key rabies-affected areas, as well as train an army of over 200 Indian veterinarians in sustainable, humane dog population and rabies control.

Blue Cross of India in Chennai has been in the forefront of the ABC-AR program, found to be an effective means of checking the spread of rabies.

Through their efforts, the city of Chennai has been declared rabies-free and has remained a poster child for other cities to emulate.

Ilona Otter is the clinical director of the Worldwide Veterinary Service International Training Center.

She periodically trains veterinarians working in animal welfare organizations in India on the best practices for the ABC-AR program, including the responsible use of antibiotics and release time.


At work in India

COVID 19 – Update

June 26th, 2020|0 Comments

Thanks to our many donors with big hearts and generous hands, CHAL was able to make three grants over the course of [...]

  • Blue Cross of India - COVID19 - Update

COVID-19 Emergency Update

April 18th, 2020|0 Comments

Hope you and your family are well and safe. In these trying times around the world, our hearts go out to people [...]

2019 Recap

December 24th, 2019|0 Comments

We continued support to our existing grantees in 2019 with grants awarded to: SPCA - Thane, Animal Aid Unlimited - Udaipur, Blue Cross of India - Chennai and a new entrant in our grantee list, Humane Animal Society (HAS) - Coimbatore

2017 Recap

January 27th, 2018|0 Comments

The Blue Cross of India was a restricted grantee of CHAL this year.  At its Velacheri hospital, nearly 7,000 animals were sterilized, most of them [...]

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CHAL-USA was founded by three animal lovers who came together for a common cause.

Viji Sundaram, Patricia Leslie and Radha Savaram saw the opportunity to mobilize funds from donors in the United States who want to hep make a difference in regions where stray dogs are often deemed a menace and animal rights organizations are fighting the odds to eliminate rabies and help scientifically reduce their numbers without subjecting them to inhumane culling.

VIJI Sundaram
VIJI SundaramPresident
A San Francisco-based veteran journalist and eleven-time award-winning investigative reporter.
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RADHA Savaram
RADHA SavaramVice-President, Acting Treasurer
A software professional in California with a long-time animal association.
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MARY Barnsdale
MARY BarnsdaleSecretary
A career communication professional with a passion for animal welfare
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TIRUMALA Ranganath
TIRUMALA RanganathBoard Member
Retired from Silicon Valley, eager to work with CHAL USA
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Viji Sundaram President CHAL USA

Viji Sundaram


Viji Sundaram is a San Francisco-based journalist.

She has an MS in Journalism from Boston University and a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Stella Maris College in Chennai, India. A veteran journalist, she is currently the health editor with New America Media, a web-based news service for the ethnic media in the United States. Over the years, she has won eleven journalism awards, the majority of them for investigative reporting.

Sundaram is also the co-founder of Narika, a San Francisco Bay Area-based helpline for South Asian victims of domestic violence.

Radha Savaram Vice-President CHAL USA

Radha Savaram


Radha Savaram is a software professional in Southern California.

She attended graduate school at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. Savaram grew up in a household full of cats and dogs in Chennai, India. She spent her summer vacations at her ancestral family farm in a village in southern India, where she observed at close quarters the interdependent, yet harmonious and respectful relationship between the farmer and his livestock. Later, she volunteered with animal welfare organizations.

At home, she indulges her pet cat, Kobe, and helps him with his blog.

Mary Barnsdale Secretary

MARY Barnsdale


Mary earned an Executive MBA from St. Mary’s College, Moraga (California) after realizing that her BA in art history from U.C. Santa Cruz made her only semi-employable. Much of her career has been spent doing speechwriting, media relations, and employee information for global high-tech firms. She worked in Hong Kong for five years, and grew up in Malawi, Italy, Pakistan, Yugoslavia, England, and the U.S. She is a pioneer in beach microplastics cleanup in the East Bay (San Francisco Bay Area).

Mary was a founding board member of Paw Fund, an East Bay nonprofit that provides free or low-cost vaccination and sterilization for the pets of homeless and low-income people. She is on the board of Point Isabel Dog Owners (a 35-year-old nonprofit with more than 5,000 members). She co-founded and leads Albany Landfill Dog Owners Group (ALDOG), which is focused on recreation, education, and the environment. In 2017, ALDOG was awarded an Alameda Countywide Clean Water Program grant to conduct the East Bay’s first big beach microplastics cleanup.

TIRUMALA Ranganath


Tirumala Ranganath retired from the high-tech sector in Silicon Valley in 2015, after working variously as an engineer in such companies as Intel, Hewlett Packard and Agilent.

Over the years, he has supported a number of animal conservation and welfare organizations here in the U.S, in Africa and India. Now, he is eager to invest his time and energy in an “organization that is involved in improving the condition of stray dogs in India.”