City calls on organisations for vaccination and sterilisation of Valley’s street dogsKathmandu metropolis has announced Rs2,500 for sterilisation and Rs200 for anti-rabies vaccine for a stray dog or cat.
In a bid to address the increasing nuisance of street dogs, Kathmandu Metropolitan City has called upon organisations working on sterilising stray animals and conducting anti-rabies drives to contact the city administration with necessary documents.
In a notice on Wednesday, the Food Quality Inspection and Livestock Division under the Health Department of the KMC asked interested organisations to contact it about working nearby their area. The KMC has given a week’s time for proposal submission.
Based on the Division’s notice, the Department has announced that it will provide Rs2,500 for sterilisation and anti-rabies vaccine for one dog or cat, and the KMC has decided to pay Rs200 for anti-rabies vaccines for a dog or a cat.
“For this drive, the organisations themselves would manage the vaccines. We will just be giving them money,” Balram Tripathi, chief of the Health Department at the KMC, said, adding they have allocated Rs16 million for the drive. “We hope that over a dozen organisations would show interest to work on this drive.”
Earlier, the KMC had coordinated with only a limited number of organisations to manage street dogs, but that collaboration had not yielded the desired results.
In March 2016, the KMC had signed an agreement with the Humane Society International and the Jane Goodall Institute Nepal to manage street dogs within three years. For the same fiscal year, the KMC had allocated Rs25 million to sterilise the canines.
Although dogs are said to be man’s best friends, the unmanaged and homeless lot of them have been facing cruelty at the hands of humans in Kathmandu and other cities in the country.
In the second week of July, at the sixth municipal executive meeting of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City, a ward representative made a scathing remark against community dogs. Dal Bahadur Karki, the chair of ward-30, said he has been searching for poison to kill 2, 500 stray dogs, and announced he had killed stray dogs in the past as they created a lot of inconvenience for the public, mostly during the night.
Karki’s remark had received widespread criticism from animal lovers, with the Federation of Animal Welfare Nepal lodging a case against him at the Patan High Court.
“Our aim is to control the birth of dogs in the city, because many people are complaining of dog bites on the streets,” said Tripathi.
The KMC, however, does not have exact data of street dogs. Estimates suggest that Kathmandu alone has over 24,000 stray dogs, according to Ishwor Man Dangol, former spokesperson of the KMC.
A decade ago, the City had estimated its stray dog population at 26,000, and animal experts estimate that their numbers may have gone up since.
Experts have welcomed the new drive taken under the leadership of new mayor Balendra Shah. They say the cases of increasing stray dog bites can be reduced only with effective programmes and policies. They have also asked the KMC as to how it will coordinate with other local bodies in the Valley.
“This is a good initiative by the KMC,” said Sital Kaji Shrestha, president of the Nepal Veterinary Association. “The main thing is that the KMC should be clear about how the particular organisation is going to keep the dog after their surgery is completed.”
He said the KMC should ensure that the selected organisations have separate post-operative care for the sterilised dogs.
“The KMC should also examine the technical manpower of organisations that are going to take part in the sterilisation drive,” said Shrestha.
Tripathi, the chief of the KMC’s Health Department, said that his office has already formed a five-member team to examine selected organisations' expertise.
Experts also pointed out the need for KMC to work in collaboration with other neighbouring municipalities as stray dogs move across the municipalities.
“We had a meeting with the heads of 18 municipalities in the Valley with regard to controlling stray animals. Once we start the drive, we will also coordinate with neighbouring local units,” said Tripathi.
He said the City has allocated Rs3 million to control stray dogs across the municipalities.
Nepal aims to eliminate dog-transmitted rabies by 2030, a target set by the World Health Organisation. But there are doubts about the fulfilment of that goal as government data shows dog-bite cases have been rising every year. As a result, the demand for anti-rabies vaccine has also increased.
In fiscal year 2019-20, as many as 35,250 people sought anti-rabies vaccines at state-run health facilities across the country . The number of victims—mostly of dog attacks—rose to 56,619 in the fiscal year 2020-21. And the number of people who sought anti-rabies vaccines stood at 22,627 five years ago, in the fiscal year 2016-17.
Shrestha, the veterinary association chief, criticised the KMC for spending more than Rs20 million annually in the name of controlling stray dogs and failing to bring about any changes. “As the KMC has a new mayor, we expect better results,” he said.