Once a year, a dog’s existence gets celebrated in Nepal. On dog tikka day, stray dogs without rabies and other ailments get rallied up and adorned with tikkas (forehead decoration) and flower garlands around their necks. Soon after the festivities are over, the dogs return to their petty existence on the streets; seeking warmth upon mounds of cindering trash, and snuggling up against street children for temporary affection. Without knowledge or capacity, residents permit dogs to roam, procreate and populate. Their unwanted offspring are tossed onto the streets and left to navigate a city dominated by reckless drivers, and the occasional intolerant inhabitant.
Text and photos by Debby Ng
This young pup was an abuse case. The bones and muscles in its paw were damaged but are healing. Yet, it hasn't lost any affection for people.
Dr. Sudeep Koirala begins what is about to be a long day by comforting a female dog that was sterilised a few weeks ago, but has taken longer than usual to recover. Dr. Sudeep says, “We prefer to use the term community dog, because the dogs are the responsibility of the community. People need to be aware of that.”
Most dogs encountered along the streets of Kathmandu are “approachable and friendly”, but every once in a while rescue workers encounter dogs that are terrified of people, but are no less deserving of aid. Skilled and patient rescue workers are required to work with animals such as this female dog that awaits to be sterilised, so that the procedure is as stress-free as possible.
A pup suffering from rickets, a muscle and bone disorder due to an imbalance of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D, receives treatment at the Chobar Animal Sanctuary. If treatment is delivered early, the effects of rickets can be mitigated but not reversed. In a country where people do not receive enough to eat, it is challenging to discuss animal welfare issues, but the existence of these beloved animals and the care of their health serves as in inspiration to many people that hope exists, and the processes that involve intensive education, are often well received.
Dr. Sudeep briefs veterinary intern, Anjana Siwal, about the day’s procedures. Every week, Animal Nepal’s staff and volunteers catch, vaccinate and sterilise female dogs from the southern part of Kathmandu Valley. They educate communities on stray and pet management, and even offer to sterilise pets at a nominal rate. Animal Nepal has been rescuing injured dogs since 2003.
Veterinary assistant, Mohan Maharjan, and veterinary intern, Anjana Silwal, prepare a dog to be anaesthetised for spaying. The facility at Chobar is not powered by electricity and absolutely everything is done manually.
Dr. Surendra and Mohan Maharjan prepare the operation table. In 2009, Animal Nepal launched a Community-Based Stray Dog Rescue & Release Programme called Kathmandu Rescue. The programme aims to create a healthy, reduced stray dog population in Kathmandu Valley through community-based education and rehabilitation care. Some observers and critics are optimistic that Kathmandu’s stray dog population can be dramatically reduced over the next 15 years.
Veterinary intern, Susma KC, prepares a dog for sterilsation as Dr. Sudeep and Dr. Surendra begin work on the first dog. Kathmandu Rescue is a part of Animal Nepal’s Animal Birth Control/Anti Rabies (ABC) programme.
As the facility is not powered by electricity, veterinary assistant, Mohan Iswori, utilises available light as he prepares a dog for sterilisation. As a strategy of Animal Nepal’s ABC program, only female dogs are caught and sterilised as it believed that doing so will have a more significant impact on reducing stray dog populations.
The first dog to be spayed that day recuperates in a box next to a portable gas heater.
The first dog to be spayed that day recovers from its anesthesia and wanders out of its box as Dr. Surendra and Dr. Sudeep continue sterilisation operations on another dog. Soon after, veterinary assistant Mohan Maharjan moves the dog to its kennel.
As veterinarians process their seventh and final dog, veterinary assistant Mohan Iswori takes some time to comfort one of the young dogs as it recovers from its anaesthesia.
Text and photos by Debby Ng
Animal Nepal wants long-term and sustainable changes to the lives of stray dogs in Kathmandu Valley. After recovery, dogs are returned to the streets where they were captured, or are put up for adoption. This recently sterilised dog rests in the shade, outside a shop in Lalitpur District.
Apart from its ABC and animal adoption programmes, Animal Nepal runs a animal rescue helpline and provides educational and preventive health care workshops within the communities. Most valley residents care about their animals but lack the capacity, know-how, and knowledge of certain consequences of their actions. Committed and dedicated staff at Animal Nepal enables them to improve the lives of the animals they have come to celebrate for so many years, thereby protecting their beliefs and their maintaining a culture.