Earthquake update from Jan Salter,
the Founder of the KAT Centre
Many have commented and noticed that I have not been as publicly visible in KATís many activities and online over the last year or so. Iíd like to reassure those of you who may have been concerned, that I am just as active behind the scenes as always. But due to my medical condition (Parkinsonís) I am now limited, and can longer able to be in the forefront of all of KAT's activities. Fortunately, I have a wonderful loyal KAT team who are continuing the mission and have even expanded KATís essential work with animals within the community.
The disastrous earthquake which hit Nepal on the 25th of April 2015 has entailed an extremely hard time for everyone during these weeks that have followed. Luckily, the KAT Centre only received minor damage which affected water, electricity and communication lines for about a week or so. We were soon able to function as normal.
I am extremely proud of the way every member of the KAT team worked tirelessly, rescuing and treating the many animals that were affected by this tragedy. Many dogs and cats were injured, and others were abandoned when people fled their destroyed or damaged homes.
Within hours of the news of the first quake, animal disaster relief organizations were on their way to Nepal from all over the globe. The situation with street dogs and abandoned pets in Kathmandu was horrifying, but the circumstance of livestock among the hill village communities was clearly dire.
Very soon, the KAT premises was occupied and buzzing with international animal rescue workers from IFAW (International Fund Animal Welfare) and from HSI (Humane Society International), World Vets, as well as vets from Australia. All KAT office space was crowded with eager animal rescuers from all over the world, heads together, planning and preparing for the work ahead. Every room and space at our centre fast became filled with veterinarian materials and supplies.
When the planning was done, almost as quickly as they had arrived, all the teams quickly departed for their assigned designations and missions. As they drove out of our gates, we feared as to what tragedies they would find. Our KAT vet Dr Pravin joined them and became part of the outreach team. We wondered, what stories would they tell on their return?
In the meantime, the KAT home team was busy dealing with the injured animals in the city.
Rescuing and treating animals that were hurt in this devastating earthquake was a case of doing what was possible, as quickly as possible. Injured and terrified creatures were brought to the Centre. Injured street dogs and abandoned and bewildered previously owned dogs (who lack survival instincts and skills) were both prey to territorial street canines. Plus, since most of the restaurants and hotels were closed, street dogs lost an important source of food.
Volunteers were an invaluable help in assisting the KAT team to distribute the food that we cook at the Centre. (This is local fresh food which was mixed together with the dried food donated by generously by individuals and organizations.) This food is taken to different parts of the city and shared out to the hungry street dogs.
We have had considerable success with our campaign to try to connect people with their lost pets using social media such as Facebook. But many people have not yet returned to the city since after-shocks are still rocking the Valley. Local groups that KAT connects with have also been extremely helpful in taking care of dogs within their communities. Again with the help of Facebook, we have managed to adopt many puppies and kittens.
Our Centre right now is overwhelmed with rescued dogs and it has become necessary to stop our ABC sterilization program to deal with these emergency cases. We are in the process of building more kennels to hold the increasing numbers of abandoned or injured creatures taking refuge at KAT.
As each exhausted team came back from the districts of Sindhupalchowk, Dhading, Kavre and beyond, we heard such overwhelming stories that it was difficult not to weep. With the help of the District Livestock Office, (who provided information on which areas were worst affected) the volunteer teams worked nonstop. Sometimes they worked for three days in a row performing endless cycles of surgeries and treating cows, buffalos and goats. Words can try, but fail to describe the devastation and suffering that the earthquake left in its wake. The second earthquake (on May 12th) and the numerous aftershocks created further challenges for the teams.
Oftentimes, they would drive up to a road head only to find that the road to the hinterlands was completely blocked with rubble from landslides. Plus with the earth beneath their feet continuing to shake, the obvious danger of further landslides often impeded their work.
On his return, our KAT Vet Dr Pravin described with a heavy heart, how families and communities, despite all that they themselves were enduring, nevertheless, tried to care and save their suffering animals. The pathetic condition of the large animals (such as cows and buffalos) who received the brunt of falling debris shocked us all. Nepal is a Hindu country where cows are revered as sacred, when these animals are injured they can only be made as comfortable as possible, but cannot be euthanized. These people, many of whom had themselves lost everything, still found it in their hearts to give immense warmth and gratitude to the vets for their efforts to provide help
The coming days will provide additional challenges both for the KAT staff and everyone. With the monsoon approaching, we will have to be prepared for the likelihood of further destruction (from landslides) and from the diseases that are prevalent during this rainy season.
This was not an unexpected disaster. People like me, who have lived in Nepal for many years, have been aware that a Ďbig oneĎ was looming, and the possibility was always at the back of our minds. But none of us could have foreseen the manner and the extent of the devastation.
Sadly it has been the rural hills and rugged peoples who live a bare existence there, that have suffered the most. Many of you who have supported KAT, have also trekked in those distant beautiful hills and valleys and have enjoyed sharing, if only for a short time, the mountain peopleís simple and arduous lives. Humans and animals living together, as they have done for generations. We at KAT, whose motto here in Kathmandu is ĎHumane Management for Community Benefití grieve for the loss of so many hill communities and for the animals which were their livelihood.
We hope that the abundant big heartedness shown by people from around the world will soon reach and bring them hope from their suffering.
We thank you with all our hearts for the wonderful generosity that you have shown for our work at KAT. We thank also the countless hard working volunteers who have come forward to assist in this time of need. This support has inspired us and has given KAT the strength it needs to continue its work of helping the animals of Kathmandu.
Stories of the Lucky Ones
When disasters happen, there are always numerous tragic casualties and we grieve for those that couldnít make it
But here we have just a few stories of the remarkable lucky ones that were saved...
Kali was spotted by a sharp eyed member of the International Animal Welfare (IFAW) team, as she struggled in vain to free herself from under the rubble of a stricken house. Once the team freed her, she was checked for injuries and found to have a badly fractured leg, which needed attention if she was to live. This pitiful traumatized creature was made as comfortable as possisible for the long bumpy journey to the city and into the welcoming arms of KAT. An x-ray revealed the fracture was serious, and only an expensive operation involving pins and plates would save the leg. With the combined of efforts of IFAW and KAT, Kaliís leg was successfully operate. And here she is recovering.
The incredible will to live
These wee pups were miraculously found alive after being trapped under rubble for an unbelievable 15 days. As you can see, with lots of love and good food, they have recovered from their ordeal and are thriving. The police, who marveled at this extraordinary rescue, are eager to give these pups a welcoming home once they have fully recovered.
Abandoned, but saved
Pashupatinath (Lord of the Animals), the sacred holy temple in Kathmandu, has always been a dumping complex for unwanted dogs. And this is where little Snowflake, a Japanese Spitz, was abandoned with a broken back. One of the many vendors who make a simple living by selling trinkets and tid-bits to passing visitors, noticed this wee creature attempting to survive after the quake, dragging her damaged legs behind her. This kindly elderly woman who had so little herself, took pity and tried to give care and a home to this pathetic creature. But she was unable to provide the special attention Snowflake needed and KAT was alerted.
Our KAT vets sadly confirmed that the injury was serious and it was unlikely that Snow flake would recover the functions of her back limbs. Apart from this paralysis, she was found to be healthy. This dear little soul with so much personality has not lost her spirit and lust for life.
Snowflake is now available for adoption, but she needs a good home that can provide her the special care and attention for her condition. We are presently investigating if she would be a good candidate for fitting a wheel-chair.
As the city is gradually returning to a form of normality, our work continues to be complex at KAT, as we try to find the owners of the many dogs that have found themselves abandoned and are now at KAT. We hope in time to find their owners. Perhaps they died or were injured during the collapse of the houses. These dogs cannot tell us their story - we can only guess. We just know that they are certainly not street dogs. In our next newsletter we hope to tell you the stories of these dogs reunited with their owners, or in new and, happy homes.
You can help stray dogs in Nepal - forward this email to your friends, ask them to sign up for our newsletters, and invite them to visit our shelter or our website: www.KATCentre.org.np.