In l995 the chairman of the municipality, Mr. Kumai, signed and aggreement that no more dogs would be poisoned by the municipality so long as the Kalimpong Animal Shelter conducted a successful ABC programme. An advertising programme was devised to inform people of the project, and leaflets were circulated explaining the benefits of spaying.
However, although the ABC programme was planned to be based on the successfully operating project at HIS in Jaipur , it was soon found that conditions were very different and many adaptations needed to be made to suit the different geography, culture and the prevailing attitudes.
Because there was no road to the shelter, the government veterinary clinic had agreed to allow the shelter to use some space at the clinic. A rotunda was provided, fencing for which was supplied and erected by the shelter. The ABC programme began, with the visit of two volunteer vets, Anna Usher from Australia and Joy Pritchard from England. Although it was not necessary for the KAS staff to catch dogs with a sack, because the dogs were much more socialised than those in Jaipur, and although the staff were able to pick up the dogs in their arms, confusion arose because of this very factor: it was hard to identify which were ‘stray’ dogs and which were owned dogs.
It was time-consuming, but the only long-term solution to dealing with this problem was for the staff to conduct an education campaign, personally speaking with people, and trying to locate owners of dogs, or those that fed the street dogs. The staff then explained to the owner the benefits of spaying and vaccination., distributing a leaflet written in Nepali.
Over the years so many dogs have been spayed and vaccinated that, not only has the health of the community dog population greatly increased, but the population of puppies has been greatly reduced. These days there are so few puppies available in Kalimpong town, that Darjeeling Animal Shelter sends surplus pups from Darjeeling to KAS for adoption.
In addition to the ABC programme, the staff at KAS conducted many camps in far-lying villages only accessible by walking.
This is an important factor in the control of rabies because wild animals living in the surrounding forest, particularly foxes and jackals, can spread rabies through attacking village livestock such as cattle and sheep, or even through fighting with the village dogs.
The first volunteer vet to work at KAS was Aldona Skeratyte. She lived in a small room at a nearby guest house, with kennels outside where rescued dogs were kept until the shelter was completed and she could move in to the vet’s house.
Dr Naveen Pandey was the first full-time permanent Indian Vet to work at KAS from 2001 until 2007.
Kalimpong Animal Shelter has conducted a successful Animal Birth Control programme, supported by the Municipality, since 1996.
Over the years, thousands of animals have been treated, animals from the township and surrounding villages in the foothills of the Himalayas, villages often inaccessible by road.
Their dogs have been spayed and vaccinated against rabies, their cattle protected by FMD vaccine and their poultry vaccinated.