An overwhelming smell of urine and scabbed dogs greet you as you enter the iron gate of the Karuna shelter, home for dogs located near the landfill site at Saa-Tshalu, some 3km from Trashigang town.
The dogs seem friendly, at least friendlier than the stray dogs that prowl the streets. But most of them are injured and old.
Dema was rescued a month ago. A bull had broken her leg in an accident. She would have died had Tshering Choezom the caretaker of Karuna shelter not rescued her.
Today, Dema is on her path to recovery and is healthy. She lives with her new friends, among 70 dogs the foundation is looking after at the moment.
Karuna shelter, (home for dogs), has been helping save lives of hundreds of dogs. All the dogs were brought to the shelter with injuries from accidents, ills, or orphaned by their owners.
Tshering took over as the caretaker of the shelter a year ago. When she first joined, there were only about 40 dogs at the shelter, she said. “It has been almost a month since the dogs did not have any vegetables in their meals.”
The dogs are fed twice daily. The menu changes from rice porridge to rice mixed with cooking oil, salt and vegetables. “Just like us, they also like eating different food. They eat more when the menu changes,” said the caretaker.
Manager, Chhimi Dorji, said that volunteers from Trashigang town and Kanglung come to feed the dogs at the shelter. “Especially, tourists and shopkeepers come to feed the dogs at the shelter.”
The manager said that food supply worth about Nu. 12,000 are stocked at the shelter every month.
He said that Karma Tenzin, the founder of the dog shelter, provided the money. He said that although the founder lives abroad, the money was delivered on time for the dogs.
Chhimi Dorji said that trying to save the dogs has been a collective effort. He shares; all the success so far was possible, because of the help from the Veterinary Hospital and public.
“We provide treatment to the wounded ones and for those that need advanced treatment, we consult with the veterinary hospital in Trashigang,” said Chhimi Dorji.
For the safety of the newcomers, they are separated from the rest of the group until they become friendly. Majority of the dogs at the shelter are stray.
Tshering Choezom said the dogs move freely during the day around the compound and the area near the landfill. “During night they return to the shelter. Wherever they might have come from, for now this is their new home.”
She said that combating injury, illness and overpopulation of dogs is a challenge in every part of the country. “Every individual should compassionately and responsibly help them,” she said. “I am blessed to be the caretaker of these dogs.”
She added that it is equally important to teach children to practice kindness and compassion toward animals.
Meanwhile, the Karuna shelter is built on 86-decimal land in Saa-Tshalu. Karuna (Compassion) dog shelter was established in 2008. This is the only dog shelter in Trashigang.
Jigme Wangchen from Tashigang