postheadericon Kuire Ko Kura: On Pharping Puppies


Everyone loves a playful puppy, yet in Kathmandu Valley, over 80% of all pups born die a horrible death before reaching the age of one. Malnutrition, disease, and in general, neglect are the main killers.  However, if all these pups instead lived to maturity, we would all be swimming in these cute little devils, and community packs would be more than triple or quadruple the size they are now. The incidence of rabies outbreaks would also be elevated, as there would be more cases to deal with, and more infectious ankle bites as a result.

In order to humanly curb the growth of our dog problem, two KTM groups have been working very hard for many years, implementing what is known in the Animal Welfare biz as ABC programs - jargon for spaying and neutering, or in simple talk: sterilization. Both the KAT Centre (in the north end of town) and Animal Nepal (in the south) have been out doing this work, and as a result, fewer pups are born each year that would quickly die on the street. For example, KAT sterilizes approximately 120 female dogs each month, and each one is also vaccinated for rabies, dewormed, and treated for existing illness or injuries. Additionally, both KAT (www.katcentre.org.np) and Animal Nepal have a rescue programme where each month, a hundred or so injured dogs are picked up, brought in to a center for treatment and vaccinations, and then returned to the corner on which they were found.

Both orgs have facilities where expert medical teams perform surgeries, shelter animals as needed, and act as a hub for animal welfare in the Valley. Here they also provide training and awareness raising, and even offer up healthy dogs for adoption.  And this week, Animal Nepal has embarked on a new model for helping those pups that live on the fringes of the valley and beyond, where the incidence of rabies is greater and domestic animals and wildlife are living closer together.

Typically, when a village confronts the problem of overpopulation in the street dog community, the solution is poisoning. Strychnine-laced meat is laid out, and the doggies gobble that up and are dead within hours. Outside of the cruelty of this method, its also a very stupid idea that puts other animals (such as crows and cows) at risk, as well as the local population of humans who can also get sick from this form of animal control.

A much more humane, safe and cost-effective solution is this new idea of a Catch-Neuter-Vaccinate-Release week (CNVR). During the CNVR, and in a matter of days, volunteers within the village are recruited with the help of the Animal Nepal team and the job gets done right. Local clubs are mobilized to help catch the loose and wandering dogs, and local monasteries offer support in cash and kind. Vets volunteering with Animal Nepal perform the treatment, and within months following the CNVR, the population of dogs will stabilize and eventually decrease. In addition, the overall health of the dogs is expected to greatly improve.

This week's Pharping CNVR proved to be a great success (many congrats out to them), and was kicked off by dozens of volunteers establishing a temporary operating theatre. Day 2 was a round-up day, and the next day was spent giving treatments. Following a 24-hour recovery period, the dogs were returned where found: happy, healthier, and now unable to reproduce like rabbits. The CNRV also included a community evening at the cozy Trinbha Café, and there I gave a multimedia presentation on animal welfare to a most enthusiastic crowd.

Lucia DeVries, one of the founders of Animal Nepal and active in Nepali welfare for over a decade, had this to say about the first-ever doggie CNVR in Nepal:

"This is the way to go. Transporting dogs into the Valley over difficult terrain is tough and expensive. CNVR is the answer to dog management in rural areas, as this way is much more efficient in setting up a barrier against rabies, as well as getting more folks involved during the process. Pharping is now a bit better for all those that live there, including the dogs."

Overall, I felt great after participating myself, as did all the other volunteers. And I was reminded this week of the words of my dharma teacher, the Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, who said, "If you want to be unhappy, help yourself, and if you want to be happy, help others." And in this case, many of those "others" were unborn pups that would have died miserably in the streets without the help of dozens of gracious volunteers within the Pharping community.

For more information on how a Village Health Camp can be organized in your community, or on animal welfare in general, please contact Lucia DeVries of Animal Nepal (luciadevries@gmail.com or visit www.animalnepal.org).

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Jiggy Gaton
lives in Kathmandu and is an aging technologist - has been since the days of Woodstock - so in the words of Roland The Gunslinger "he is from a world now gone by." However, Jigs is extremely up-to-date on all things tech and is also available for hire.
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