KAT Centre Strategy Session

Yesterday I sat in on a strategy meeting for the KAT centre lead by Sarah Vallentine of the Word Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA). The majority of the staff, the founder Jan Salter, some long term volunteers, as well as donors and one or two board members were in attendance and discussed the direction, focus and hopeful future of the centre. Sarah pointed out the importance of establishing goals, and then outlining objectives to carry out such goals. As someone just entering the jungle that is NGOs, I found the meeting extraordinarily helpful for both my understanding of such work as well as for the future of the centre. It is so easy to get lost in the day to day treatment and sterilization of animals, but forget the big picture. We are here to improve the welfare of the street dog population of Nepal, and in doing so, the welfare of the people. During the meeting we recapped the four main, shall we say areas of desired impact, of the KAT center. Such areas include education, government support, animal birth control and treatment. As a team it was decided that “education” was in need of the biggest push. Sarah used the analogy of the KAT centre only performing sterilizations as the equivalent of trying to bail a boat with a leak in it. Now matter how hard we bail, that leak still needs to be plugged. Without education, unsterilized owned and abandoned dogs will continue to flood the boat that is Kathmandu with wave after wave of dogs. Furthermore, it was decided that rather than just sterilizing and replacing dogs in their familiar territory we will work to discuss our work with community members both before and after treating the dogs. Ideally, we would like to provide a local with an information card for the dog with our phone number so that if they see the animal in distress they can call us. Hopefully, we can work to establish a sense of responsibility for the welfare of community dogs by members of the community. Of course, the usual education of the importance of sterilization, rabies vaccinations, and proper care of dogs needs to be maintained or increased if possible. 
      Sarah presented the idea of establishing a “Logical Framework” (log frame) for the KAT center. A “Log Frame” is essentially a glorified table containing each major problem we want to address, objectives i.e. what we want to achieve, the purpose and outcome of such objectives, indicators i.e. if objectives are being achieved what it would look like (ex. a reduction in street dogs by x percent each year), results, risks, budget, time frame and so on and so forth. In summary, a “Log Frame” is a framework of what we want to achieve and how we are going to measure it. 
      During the next few hours each area of emphasis was discussed. Jan mentioned the triumph of having the government stop the controlled poisoning of street dogs and how, in Nepal especially, it was so important to focus on what the government has done for us, not what more they can do. That being said it was decided that a push for government provided rabies vaccines at the very least, and possibly desired legislation, an employee or funding would be ideal. 
     Even the possibility of acquiring microchips and microchipping each dog we treat was discussed. The implications could be massive as we could learn anything from average life span of a street dog, average distance roamed, if the dog has an owner and of course the medical historyof each canine. Normally, the possibility of acquiring and effectively using microchips in a country where the average income of a given person is less than $200 Canadian dollars a year, is essentially nill. However, the center may be fortunate enough to procure the required tools at a significant discount, and therefore be one of the first impoverished countries to begin such a project. All attendees of the meeting agreed that such a project would take time before we really saw the benefits, but like any great idea, it has to start somewhere. 
    Finally, the KAT team was divided into groups according to areas of expertise to establish “Log Frames” for the four areas of emphasis. By this 
point I think the collective brain power of all in attendance was drained and the sauna that was the visitors room started to become unbearable. It was then decided the “Log Frames” would be properly constructed next meeting. The meeting did not conclude without discussion of the success of other similar NGO’s around the world, and how we could work to mimic such successes (and avoid lack there of). For example, the organization “PAWS” (Philippines Animal Welfare Society) is currently doing a remarkable job to alter the image that having a pure bred dog is a sign of upperclass, while adopting a street dog is for the lower class. This concept is mirrored in Nepal, and something we would very much like to change. Almost daily we have failed attempts to adopt dogs because the potential adopter decides he or she would rather pay thousands of rupees for a pure bred Labrador, a “symbol of wealth”.
     As a veterinary student whose desired future is a collage of NGO and shelter medicine work, it was a remarkable learning experience to be part of such a strategy session. As a (semi) long term volunteer, I felt it was important to sit in on such a meeting and voice what I see on a day to day basis. As a human being, its nice to know that extraordinary, passionate people are working so hard every day to solve problems that could so easily be described as insurmountable.
   Cheers for now,