Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Dogs in Nepal and Cambodia

It's almost 2am and soon I will be on a plane bound for Kathmandu, yay! This is my first holiday (not counting home visits lah!) since moving to Cambodia almost 2 years ago, and I am so excited. Why Nepal? Well, a Bloom customer from the UK, Anne, told me she loves Nepal so much she has been there 16 times! She then invited me to join her for her April trip. Among other things, I will be checking out the Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre. Anne told me Nepal is so poor that many of the dogs suffer from malnutrition and mange. She showed me some heartrending photos when we met in Siem Reap.

Although Cambodia is also a poor country, Khmers love their dogs and take care of them to the best of their ability. When Nessie was expecting, practically everyone we know asked us for a puppy. I have never seen a dog with mange here. Most of them seem to have happy lives, running freely, rolling about in the dirt and sniffing and eating away at rubbish. Still, Isabelle, the German vet we go to here in Siem Reap, says medium sized dogs live on average, only 5 years in this country, mainly due to a poor diet (dogs here are fed mostly rice, but as dogs are hunters, they need protein more than carbohydrates) and lack of vaccinations. Female dogs have it especially bad, as they just reproduce and reproduce which takes a toll.

Dogs in the countryside are even worse off. When I visited Takeo, I actually arranged to have two starving dogs brought back to Phnom Penh where they would have homes. Unfortunately, one died. I had given him to Neang and she was unable to take him to the vet when he was sick, as she simply could not afford it. I did not know he was in bad shape as Neang never tells me her problems. I only found out later the puppy had died. At that time Neang and I cried together at the little lost life. It is still traumatic, thinking about this and I feel sad. Here I was thinking he would have a better chance in the city where there is more food, when I probably brought him to his death (perhaps it was a virus he got, as Austin contracted Parvo in Phnom Penh). "The road to hell is paved with good intentions."

I love dogs and want to investigate the possibility of starting an animal shelter here in Siem Reap. The challenges for me are (1) funding, as it is very expensive to feed and medicate the animals (my personal finances are committed to Bloom) (2) finding land that is big and far away enough from neighbours so they won't complain and (3) getting a vet involved.

So anyone reading this who is interested in the project, please contact me. I'll wrote a post when I get back from Nepal on the lessons I learnt at the Animal Centre.
I will also try to visit Lhasa if possible to see for myself the Tibet situation.


Los Perros said...

Canada calling.
I spent a week in Cambodia last fall.
It would be of interest to me to hear more about your animal shelter idea.
I trust it would include a spay / neuter program.

I'm the founder of the Spanky Project which works with groups in Cuba.

Let's talk.



Diana Saw said...

Hi Terry,

What a fantastic project! I loved the spankyproject.org site. It was very useful for me. I have a lot of ideas about starting this project here in Cambodia after speaking to the people at the Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre (KAT), see http://www.katcentre.org.np/

I am in Singapore (my country of birth) now and will be back in Cambodia on Tuesday. I'll send you an email and we can talk more.



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