There are different names for stray dogs in Nepal. You can call them street dogs, someone calls them free dogs, which makes sense too; and they are also regarded as community dogs.
Being named as community dogs, ironically the local community may not be able to look after the dogs. From my perspective, they are no one’s dogs. Someone from the local community may feed the dogs roaming in their neighbourhood randomly, and use them for guarding the place, but there is no ownership and expected responsibility from the community towards the dogs. I wouldn’t say that the locals do not care about the dogs, on the contrary, Nepalese are generally kind to dogs, but due to many practical difficulties such as lack of resources and knowledge, in many cases it is just not enough to motivate them to take actions when a community dog is sick or injured, particularly for those who are getting old.
It was confronting and heartbreaking when I saw the poor conditions of so many community dogs in Kathmandu during my stay there in 2015. I couldn’t help but tried my best to look after as many street dogs as I could with veterinary guidance. Everyday I squeezed my time on top of running a project called Shelters Up Nepal for earthquake survivors from May to July, preparing meals for few doggies, giving them medicines, seeking help from local animal welfare organisations for severe cases, and getting the locals involved in the process.
I miss all the doggies I have met in Kathmandu and I am worried about them as their conditions fluctuated reportedly. I wish I could find them healthy when I visit Nepal again, but who knows? They can ‘go’ anytime because of sickness, injury, accident and human cruelty.
Be honest, I do not particularly like the name ‘community dogs’ at first. It does not reflect the commitment from the local community in looking after these lovely furry friends as the terms may suggest. But soon I realise, there are local communities and organisations which do care about the street dogs in Nepal. More importantly, the street dogs in Nepal are truly part of the community; they co-exist with their human counterpart closely. At the end of the day, the future of street dogs in Nepal relies on the local community.
It is my plan to go back Nepal to do more for community dogs there together with local animal organisations as they are doing tough. I wish the animal-loving community out there can join me, together with the local organisations, we can share some of the responsibilities for looking after the community dogs who are fending their lives daily on the streets by themselves.
If you would like to be part of the community, I would like to hear from you. No matter which part of the world you are, I believe we can work something out together.
Before then, you can check out the stories of some community dogs I met in 2015 from the Blog.