26 December 2015 – Lola, a five year old dog living in Lola Tol, Patan, was a much loved community dog until she developed a smelly tumour. Suffering from Canine Transmittable Venereal Cancer (CTVT) Lola got shooed away, even when she became pregnant once again. Thanks to Animal Nepal’s mobile treatment camp, Lola recovered in a month’s time and became a much appreciated member of the neighbourhood again.
Animal Nepal is the second half of 2015 treated 24 cancer dogs on the street. The new approach turned out to be successful. While one passed away, and two disappeared in the course of treatment, 21 fully recovered.
Cancer in stray dogs is a widespread problem in Nepal. Canine transmissible venereal tumors (CTVTs) are tumors of the external genitalia of the dog and other canines, and is transmitted from animal to animal during mating. It is one of only four known transmissible cancers. The cancer leads to much hardship among the patients; since the tumours are smelly and result in constant bleeding, the dogs are ostracized from their community. People shoo them away and other dogs no longer want to be close to them. They live a lonely life, and often became scared and depressed.
Animal Nepal since 2009 has been successfully conducting treatments using vincristine. Since June the treatments are being conducted in mobile clinics. This approach was taken as the shelter staff were concerned about adverse effects from using vincristine inside the premises. Also, since the treatment is a lengthy one (taking at least one month), expenses could be greatly reduced by taking the treatment to the street.
The results have been very positive so far. Out of 24 treated dogs, 21 showed complete recovery, two dogs disappeared and one dog passed away. The treatments involved various community members, who took care of feeding the dogs and providing supplements (liver and iron tonic and digestive agent) and alerted us when the dog stopped eating or showed certain symptoms. In all cases the dogs were welcomed back into the community. Since cancer dogs are considered ‘juto’, impure and dirty, the treatment, which shows almost immediate results, is very much appreciated by the community members.
Before starting treatment one caretaker is appointed, who is provided with an information brochure explaining the disease, adverse effects and procedure. The team returns each week until the dog is declared healthy. Female dogs are spayed either before or after the treatment.