Lalitpur launches animal ambulance serviceThe City has handed over the veterinary ambulance to a non-profit animal shelter. The non-profit plans to use the ambulance to rescue street dogs and stray animals in need of attention.
The Lalitpur Metropolitan City has launched an animal veterinary ambulance service with the aim to provide immediate medical attention to street dogs and stray animals in the City.
Lalitpur Mayor Chiri Babu Maharjan on Wednesday handed over the ambulance to Sneha’s care, a non-profit organisation that has been working for the welfare of street dogs and stray animals since 2014, for operation.
“We are concerned about the increasing number of stray dogs and animals abandoned on the road. We want to solve this problem,” said Maharjan, who is serving as the City’s mayor for the second time after winning the local polls held on May 13.
Underscoring the City’s efforts to make Lalitpur an inclusive city, Maharjan also spoke about the disabled-friendly cab service in the City started in 2020 along with free vehicle service for elderly people to reach their respective ward offices.
“The City has been providing free transport service to the disabled and the elderly. Now we have decided to focus on the welfare of the street animals,” said Maharjan, speaking at the inauguration of the veterinary ambulance on Wednesday. “There are many stray dogs and animals on the streets in need of care. Some are in need of medical treatment while others need to be rescued and rehabilitated.”
Stray animals are a common sight on almost every street in Kathmandu Valley. According to Sneha’s Care, more than 10,000 street animals die every year in Nepal from illnesses, diseases and accidents.
The metropolis’ latest move to help animal rescue and rehabilitation has been applauded by veterinary doctors, animal rights activists and urban planners.
Sital Kaji Shrestha, president of the Nepal Veterinary Association, praised the City’s initiative.
“Although the Central Veterinary Laboratory has its veterinary ambulance, it has never been used to rescue street animals,” said Shrestha. “The City’s partnership with Sneha’s Care is a commendable step. This model should be adopted by other local units as well.”
Shrestha questions the effectiveness of the work of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Department which he says has so far been indifferent to the plight of stray animals and has no data on urban stray animals and community animals.
However, it is not only the ministry that has not kept any record of the number of strays and community animals. None of the local authorities in Kathmandu has the exact data. If a decade-old data is to go by, Kathmandu Metropolitan City has over 26,000 stray dogs. Lalitpur Metropolitan City estimates the number of community and stray dogs in the City to be 10,000.
“Latitpur’s mayor is a dog lover. During the pandemic he had coordinated with us to feed the hungry stray dogs in the City,” said Sneha Shrestha, animal rights activist and founder of Sneha’s Care.
Sneha’s Care has so far rescued 170 street dogs and sheltered them at Bhainsepati, Lalitpur, according to Sneha’s Care. “Of the total canines rescued, 18 were hit by vehicles and are paralysed dogs. Besides dogs we also have 19 calves that were abandoned on the streets,” she said.
The new vet ambulance will provide major assistance in their rescue efforts, says the non-profit group which plans to make optimum use of the ambulance to reach out to street dogs and stray animals in need across the Valley. “We had an old rescue vehicle that needed repair every time, but now the City has trusted us and handed us an ambulance. This will help us a lot,” she said.
The veterinary ambulance is equipped to rescue cows and dogs at the same time as it has two different sections to hold the animals. According to the organisation, the new veterinary ambulance will also be used to carry out anti-rabies vaccination and sterilisation drives.
“We get over 50 calls from across the Valley for help on a daily basis,” she said.
“I also request other local bodies to make plans to rescue and rehabilitate stray animals so that they can be free from a life of pain and torture.”
According to Mayor Maharjan, the City has allocated Rs 3,000,000 for the veterinary ambulance, which can accommodate up to 20 dogs at a time.