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Dogs and people help ‘KAT’


KAT’s centre in Nepal

‘KAT’ is the familiar name of the Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre in Nepal, lying deep in the Himalaya. In recent decades, Nepal has become home to many Tibetan refugees who have fled their homelands, and it is my connection with Tibetan dogs that first led me to Nepal. As the years have gone on I have come to feel that Nepal is my ‘home from home’, and it is not only the Tibetan people, but the Nepalis, too, who have led me to this way of thinking.

Despite its many political problems, Nepal is a wonderfully ‘warm’ country, a feeling generated by its delightful people. However, the country is also very poor with the per capita income still only in the region of around £1 per day. The Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre was set up in May 2004, by Jan Salter, a talented English artist who has lived in Nepal for almost forty years. Many readers of Our Dogs will already be familiar with ‘KAT’, but in brief it has been set up to help alleviate the suffering of Kathmandu’s street dog population, many of whom die agonising deaths from the strychnine poison that is laid down in lumps of meat in the street, in an endeavour to control the dog population. Thankfully the government is now beginning to realise that through KAT’s spaying operations, the population can be controlled more humanely.

Thus far KAT has worked primarily in an area covering one eighth of the city, and has now reached agreement with the Nepali Government that strychnine will not be laid down in the area KAT has targeted. After all, it would be enormously sad if bitches that had been so carefully caught and spayed were subsequently to die from poisoning. So, the Government is listening, but KAT needs to grow further so that more work can be done and a greater area covered. It has to be said, too, that it is not only the street dogs that are suffering, but pet dogs take the poison too, and many of the children in Nepal live a ‘hand-to-mouth’ existence. The consequences don’t bear thinking about.

I became involved with KAT in August of 2004, at which time a group of ladies calling themselves ‘The Calder Valley Group’ were already raising funds and indeed continue to do so. One of the ways that they have raised funds is by donating books to veterinary practices, where people buy them for a small sum, the proceeds going to KAT. Perhaps that is something readers of this article feel they would be in a position to organise too?

The world of dogs has welcomed KAT with open arms, and I am pleased to say that it is not only people involved with Tibetan breeds who have lent their support. Denise Barney, known particularly in Griffons Bruxellois and Cocker Spaniel circles, has been enormously supportive, with the invaluable help of her sister Stephanie.

Several of the Lhasa Apso Clubs have been kind enough to organise raffles at their shows, and to allow Lottery tickets to be sold to help raise funds. The first Lottery will be drawn on December 4th, with several prizes, amongst the most important of which are £100 donated by Pat Pearce of Shar Pei fame and a map of Tibet and a book, both signed by Michael Palin, donated by Steven Green, a Tibetan Terrier enthusiast. Pamela Cross-Stern donated a lovely drinking set as a prize for the Lottery and Irene Chamberlain has been staunch in her support of KAT, donating many wonderful raffle prizes and organising a tombola held at the Tibetan Terrier Association’s recent show.

Lottery tickets were also sold at the show and were so popular that I didn’t send along sufficient! Indeed the Tibetan Terrier fraternity have helped KAT enormously, Gill White having organised a ‘Sponsored Stay’ which took place at the Tibetan Terrier Fun Day organised by both TT clubs.

Through this she raised £203 and this memorable picture of the ‘stay’ was taken to commemorate the occasion. What’s more the idea has snowballed and Gillian Weston has now raised the additional sum of £432, by doing stays at her local training class, K9 Manners, run by Donna Brooker. Gillian’s own Tibet Terrier rescue dog, ‘Mel’, raised the highest sum of £90 and Gillian was almost pleased that he eventually got an itch and had a scratch, for she was becoming worried that those who has sponsored him were not prepared to pay out quite so much! The next highest earner was Dodger, a talented chap of mixed race who brought in £80, whilst Rambo, a Terrier, brought in £70.

Isn’t it simply wonderful to think that dogs on this side of the world can do so much themselves to raise funds for those who are less fortunate in Nepal? And wouldn’t it be great if the idea snowballed still further? There must be many training classes out there who would be prepared to give it a go, and it would be lots of fun and practice for the dogs too. If anyone is interested I’m sure Gillian White would be happy to chat to them about how to go about it. She can be contacted on 01263 733396, or of course you can always give me a ring if I am around.

KAT now operates in the UK under the name ‘Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre (UK)’, and with a view to obtaining official charitable status in 2006, we now have four Trustees, Steven Green, Robert Greaves, whose personal interest lies in Norwegian Elkhounds, myself and most recently Barbara Webb who is qualified as a Chartered Accountant and will look after KAT’s UK accounts.

She also intends to take on the task of creating a newsletter from January onward, helped by her partner Jim Pearson. Both Barbara and Jim have already been out to KAT in Nepal and have been inspired by the good work that is being done over there. They both came back anxious to help, which they are able to do now that they are in the enviable position of having taken early retirement.

Another visitor to the Centre in Nepal is Anne Clarke who has put KAT in touch with ‘Wet Nose Animal Aid’, who has made a donation and hopes to get some supplies for me to take out in December. Anne is also responsible for making contact with the web design company, Digit Works, whose owners are re-vamping KAT’s website, completely without charge. They have also agreed that once this is done they will put up a UK page, which will serve to keep all UK supporters up to date with news. It is truly amazing how word has spread. As I write this, someone from London’s Zoological Society is taking some veterinary supplies to KAT in Nepal, these donated by the Mayhew Animal Home in London.

Well I hope I have not rambled on for too long, but so many people have asked for more news about KAT and Our Dogs has been kind enough to lend its support too, by allowing me to write this article as a vehicle to spread the word. A very big 'thank you’ to all concerned!

Juliette Cunliffe, UK Co-ordinator - KAT, Humblebee House, West Felton, Oswestry, Shropshire SY11 4EN. Tel/fax: 01691 610906 e-mail: juliette@dogphotos.co.uk www.katcentre.org.np