16-22 September 2016 #826

Paw-ssible future

Let's keep Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre alive so it can give a better life to our dogs
Smriti Basnet

Pics: Bikram Rai

After 12 years of rescuing, sheltering and rehabilitating stray dogs, Kathmandu Animal Treatment (KAT) is facing a serious financial crisis, and may have to shut down its operations unless donors step up. 

KAT’s facility in Budhanilkantha is not renewing its lease beyond September, instead it is looking for a new home - a crowd funding initiative has not yielded the expected revenue.  

“We have not received the kind of response we hoped we would get,” said project consultant Pushkar Pal, who says only $11,545 of the $127,000 needed has been raised. “In Kathmandu, there is reluctance when it comes to adopting stray dogs because people only want good breeds.” 

Despite the crisis, KAT’s dedicated volunteers continue to make sure that the dogs are taken care of. Phone calls for rescue start as early as seven in the morning and last till midnight on some days. Cleaning the wounds of dogs, feeding them, cleaning their kennels and ensuring that each gets its medicines on time are all in a day’s work for the volunteers. 

“But we have seen some noticeable changes towards animals over the years, people now feel that animals needs to be helped,” said Pal. 

With over 22,500 stray dogs in the capital the municipality this July launched a vaccination and sterilisation campaign starting with the centre of political power itself - Singha Durbar. But there are at least 15 dogs caught in road accidents every month, with many of them landing up at KAT. 

When KAT was founded in 2004 by British artist and author of Faces of Nepal, Jan Salter, it primarily emphasised birth control of canines. This was at a time when the municipality used to poison stray dogs to control their numbers.

Introducing a more humane approach to tackling the growing number of strays, KAT began sterilising the dogs, particularly female, as they healed faster. 

TRUE DEVOTION: The KAT Centre team, despite uncertainties, continues to work for the welfare of the stray dogs.

Today, KAT’s work has diversified and its responsibilities have increased. In addition to birth control, the centre also immunises every dog coming to the centre against rabies, it sterilises cats as well and conducts rescue operations. During last year’s earthquake, KAT tended to more than 400 injured dogs, providing them with food and on the spot treatment.

KAT hopes to develop a new model where communities take ownership of dogs to manage them in a more sustainable manner. “The stray-dog issue in Kathmandu can be solved overnight if everyone is willing to shelter one each,” said Pal.

If it gets enough funding to move to a new space, KAT hopes to create a better animal-friendly space, with more capacity, improved diagnostic facilities and better-equipped operation theatres. Having settled a deal for a land not more than a few kilometres from their current place, it plans to build everything from scratch. But first, it needs to raise money.


Emigrating dogs

Babu was a four-month-old stray pup with severe skin disease when rescued from Maharajgunj. After a month at the KAT Centre in Maharjganj, Babu had recovered, got his hair back and was a playful, friendly dog.

“Babu’s life changed drastically, it was a huge improvement for him,” said Deepesh Dhakal of KAT Centre in Budanilkantha, who takes care of dozens of other strays at KAT which are up for adoption.

Interestingly, most of the dogs are adopted by foreigners and about 15 are taken abroad every year. Babu (pic, above) was adopted by an American visitor, and is in the United States.

Next in line is Bandit who is getting his documents ready to emigrate to Canada with his foster parents. Zimba is going to Germany.

Read also

K9-Friendly, Subeksha Poudel

From bow to wow, Paavan Mathema

Doctor Dogs, Roma Aryal

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