Fuchi was the first street dog I tried to save in Kathmandu. She hung around in a busy street in Thamel, the mostly lodged area by tourists in Kathmandu. She would go to get few biscuits daily from a local convenient store where I saw her for the first time.
First look of Fuchi was a shock. She looked like an ‘alien dog’ as she lost all her hairs. I found that she was smelly too when I got closer to her. It was so obvious she’d got serious problem for her health, but nobody would try to get her to be treated. She has wandered around in the same area everyday for years, but her health condition was like invisible to the locals.
I was determined to reach out to her even though I didn’t know how. I consulted with a veterinary professional what could I do with Fuchi’s situation. I started with feeding her food to see how friendly she was with stranger. After few times, she lowered her defence towards me. When I was about to give her medicines, she disappeared. I was so worried that she had died. I searched and asked people around. Finally, I found her through a small alley leading to a complex full of cracks created by the earthquake. Phew! She was still alive, but shivering was the only sign to tell so.
There was no time for me to waste. I called local animal welfare organisations to send veterinary staff to help. It sounded easy, but it wasn’t as straight forward as you expected to get timely assistance from local animal organisations. I understand that there are limitations on resources and many challenges for local animal organisations, nevertheless, I couldn’t hide my frustration.
My ‘harassment’ paid off, I finally got a veterinary technician to come out. I was hoping Fuchi would be taken back to shelter to have full examination and treatment, but on-the-spot treatment was the only option offered. For a street dog, it might not be a bad idea as she might lose her territory if she were taken away from the street for too long.
Four injections were administered to Fuchi on the first treatment and more to come in the three-week treatment plan for mange as diagnosed. As a foreigner, I got to prepare for my departure and therefore I got the locals involved. Indeed, the involvement of the locals will be the only long term solution for street dogs issue in Nepal.
It was a relief when I saw Fuchi roaming on the street again few days after the first treatment. It was encouraging to find that Fuchi’s hair was growing and looked like a dog again few weeks after my departure. Unfortunately, her health condition is going downward again possibly due to discontinuation of medications administration. It is just one of the many challenges of treating street dogs. Again, the involvement of the locals and building the capacity of local animal welfare organisations are crucial in the success of any street dogs program.