It turns out I have by no way mastered the Nepalese language/accent. The Kathmandu Animal Treatment (KAT) center is located on the road to Budanilkantha. It also turns out there is a town in the exact opposite direction of the Center which sounds a lot like “Budanilkantha.” Needless to say we were slightly late for our first day.
Upon arrival at the center we were greeted by the warm, smiling faces of the employees and volunteers and numerous wagging tails of the KAT center’s residents. The KAT center is an extraordinary place. The main focus of course is animal birth control – – the success of which I have already witnessed in the numerous ear notched dogs walking the streets. Dogs spayed at the center are given an identification tattoo, ear notch and red collar. The people of Kathmandu recognize that these dos have been vaccinated and spayed and are far more willing to care for them. When I first heard the center spayed and vaccinated strays and often released them back onto the streets, I was skeptical. With the success rate of adoptions and lack of stray dogs we experience in the Western world, it is hard to understand how people who clearly care about the well being of these animals can release them onto the street. But Nepal is not Canada. For starters, the center always releases the dogs back to the same neighbourhood from which they came. Often these dogs know where to get food and shelter in their home area. Some of them even have “owners.” Furthermore, in a given year the KAT center is lucky to adopt out 50 dogs. The city has over 20 000 stray dogs. In order to effectively reduce to stray dog population in Kathmandu it would be ridiculous to only spay the number of dogs they could find homes for.
The KAT center does have a decently equipped “surgery suite” but medically, the center is a long way away from a Western veterinary clinic (obviously). It is not the desire to perform top level medical aid that is lacking, quite the opposite, it is simply the diagnostic tools and supplies that are much needed. I think the medical supplies we brought with us will go to good use, as we have already torn open boxes of gloves and used some of the towels and drugs. Currently, the KAT center is well staffed with volunteers and veterinarians as it is tourist season. It is very neat to see how even routine procedures like placing a cast are done rather differently by vets from different parts of the world. After a dog chewed off its cast today a different vet tried her “American way,” to see if it would hold.
The level of Mange (skin disorders caused by parasitic mites) is Kathmandu is quite extraordinary. I witnessed more cases today of advanced mange then in the rest of my volunteer work and work work combined. It can be treated very successfully, however, and I am looking forward to seeing the transformation of some of these animals over the next three months.
Upon our return from the KAT center I decided to explore the streets some more. And by explore the streets I really mean play human frogger through traffic and say “No thankyou” a few thousand times to pushy, yet friendly store owners. Just as I took a quick turn down a backstreet in an attempt to dodge a flying 3-wheeled “tuck-tuck” (by flying I mean speeding, this land is magical yes, but not in that way), a well dressed, English-fluent man approached me, made an off hand comment about the crazy traffic and proceeded to walk the street with me talking about school life and asking me about my home country. Suddenly, we were in front of temples and old buildings and he was giving me history lessons about everything in site. Then, before I could say “Budanilkantha” I was on a rooftop and he was pointing at shopping squares and more temples. I was on a tour. I had not scheduled one. I had not asked for one. I had not even realized I was on one until it was half way over. In the end he wanted a lot of money, a few thousand rupees, and I gave him 500 rupees – – the equivalent of about 6 dollars. I had been swindled, somewhat, but I did get a pretty nice tour of Kathmandu for a reasonable price.
Cheers for now,
P.S. pictures will come – sometime