In Our Spare Time

I have rescued dogs and cats ever since I came into the country in 2004. When I lived at PARSA in the first year I found a partner in my love for animals in Yasin who would shortly become our Country Director. When I moved back to Afghanistan I knew that cruelty to street dogs would be one of the most difficult parts of living here and it was. I adopted my first puppy, Choo Cha in my first year here. Moving to Marastoon brought new challenges as so many strays resided on the large property having puppies. In my first year, I counted 60 puppies born. I also brought back Snoopy from Bamiyan who took to Yasin and became his first dog. Over the years, I worked with fledgling efforts to vaccinate and neuter dogs until Nowzad and Louise Hastie moved in with their incredible support for us. At one point we had over 150 dogs onsite until all of us decided that Nowzad had outgrown our location and PARSA’s sponsorship. In Kabul, the municipality carries out frequent poisoning campaigns to try to reduce the stray dog population which is a true health threat as rabies is endemic and Afghan’s frequently die from dog bites. We have had close calls with rabid dogs, and all of our household is vaccinated for rabies.
I will never forget one night when I was called by our guard because the municipality had a huge truck at the door of our compound piled high with dead and dying dogs with plans to lay out poison meat for feral dogs in the compound. We had lost a couple of our dogs in this very, painful death previously. I stood in the middle of the road in my bathrobe and yelled in Dari/English that they were not allowed in. Calls to the director enforced my refusal. I worked with Nowzad after that to get all of the feral dogs neutered, and vaccinated and the population at Marastoon declined with a small stable group of ferals who guarded the property. That is what happpens with a Trap, Neuter Release program. The feral population stablizes and declines. Poisoning dog packs continuously destablizes the dog population and as the older dogs die new dogs move in. This year, after 12 years of rescuing and caring my own pack of 12 house dogs, MayHew and Dr. Jalili, and Afghan- British Veternarian have convinced the municipality to stop poisoning dogs and to let him and Mayhew train the poisoners to trap so that the dog population in Kabul can be vaccinated for rabies.
This is such a big accomplishment for our community.  During the times when dogs were being poisoned we frequently had Afghan’s call us to try to save litters of puppies, or bring dogs by to save them.  One Afghan colleague shared with me that his mother cried for days when she saw litter of small white puppies die of poison outside her door.  I am so grateful to Mayhew International and Nowzad for being willing to work here and which gives me peace of mind and an ability to respond humanely to animals suffering as I do with humans.