Kathmandu is home to 23,000 street dogs – a potential threat to humans. Across Nepal, every year around 200 people die of rabies while 35,000 are treated for dog bites.
In the past 50 years, Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) killed thousands of stray dogs to manage them, but the ruthless method had no positive outcome. So the KMC in 2016 introduced the metropolitan dog management programme, called Manumitra.
The programme was meant to facilitate dog management in a systematic and humane manner. It brought the local bodies and communities together, and conducted widespread vaccinations and sterilizations of dogs with community help.
For more effective outcomes, the KMC also partnered with non-governmental organisations in selected areas. It collaborated with “The Jane Goodall Institute Nepal” for necessary research, exploration and planning. The collaboration helped prepare a roadmap for dog management in all 32 wards of the metropolis and established ward-level animal management committees while initiating dog management education in schools. With the coordination of technical teams and animal management committees, 80 per cent of stray dogs have been vaccinated.
Recently, Manumitra’s technical team has started working with animal management committees for rabies prevention, controlling the dog population, management of suspected rabies dogs and immediate rabies response. As a result, there has been significant decrease in the population of puppies and rabies-prone dogs in 27 wards. Animal Management Committees have been established with the responsibility of registering dogs, sterilising and vaccinating against rabies. Till date, 207 animal management assistants have been arranged under the programme, and every ward has at least one facilitator. As per the data, 7,595 dogs have been sterilised, and 10,940 dogs have received vaccines.
In the case of Nepal, effective implementation of vaccination and sterilisation programmes as adopted by Manumitra is the best response mechanism against the dog problem. Inhuman methods of eliminating dogs are unacceptable to modern society. Since the Neolithic era, Nepali society has been domesticating the ‘pariah’ dog for safeguarding the house. Thus reviving the culture of adopting a community dog by every household can also be a good strategy to manage the dog population in Kathmandu.
A version of this article appears in print on November 20, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.