• 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

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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

A SF-based veteran journalist & eleven-time award-winning investigative reporter


RADHA Savaram
VP & Acting Treasurer

A software professional in California with a long-time animal association


TIRUMALA Ranganath
Board Member

Retired from the high-tech sector in Silicon Valley, and eager to work with CHAL


LAKSHMI Muralidharan
Board Member

A passionate animal lover who worked for Blue Cross of India, Chennai


Board Member

She is a passionate animal lover based in the California Bay Area


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

VP & Acting Treasurer/span>

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.

TIRUMALA Ranganath

Board Member

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.”

LAKSHMI Muralidharan

Board Member

After working with students with special needs for more than ten years in North Carolina, Lakshmi Muralidharan went back to school and earned her Master of Arts degree in teaching from North Carolina Central University, in Durham. She came to the U.S. in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in Economics from Justice Basheer Ahmed Sayeed College for women in Chennai, India.

She is a passionate animal lover and considered it a privilege working for the Blue Cross of India in Chennai for three years. While there, she saw first hand (and was deeply disturbed by) various forms of cruelty to animals, which the Blue Cross fought against.

Lakshmi adores and pampers her rescued grand dog, Benny, who has her twisted around his little paws.

Amulya Deva


Board Member

Amulya studied Business Analytics & Technology at Trinity University before working as an IT Consultant in San Francisco. She decided to go back to school at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising to study Beauty Marketing and Product Development with the hopes of one day working for a vegan, cruelty-free cosmetics brand. Amulya was famous for being constantly scolded by her family on childhood trips to India when she tried to feed stray dogs her own lunch.

She’s always loved dogs but never got the chance to have her own until working from home in 2020 allowed her to adopt a Goldendoodle named Bear who has achieved fame and notability in her own right. Amulya is excited to see how she can use her marketing and data analytics expertise to help CHAL USA gather more donations and save even more dogs in India!