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Beauty before treatment
Beauty before treatment

Beauty after treatment
Beauty after treatment

Pet Therapy for Children

Pet therapy (animal-assisted therapy) is well established in the UK and USA. The positive effects on people are well-documented. Now the joy of a damp nose and soft cuddly fur has reached orphaned children in Nepal.

The first pet therapy programme to be held in the country has proven to be an outstanding success. ‘Dr Dog’ is a joint initiative between the Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre (KAT), Bal Mandir children’s home and the Mitrataa Foundation.

'What you all do in Kathmandu and for the street dogs here is amazing. Hopefully I will be able to com back soon and give back to my community as you all have.'
 – Srijana Pradhan, Michigan State University, USA

Two special canine guests were welcomed with open arms by the tiny children of Bal Mandir – Mango, the loveable Tibetan Terrier KAT mascot, and Tara, a paraplegic KAT permanent resident dog.

Pet therapy for children at an orphanage in NepalJan Salter, the founder of KAT, said: ‘It was absolutely heart-warming to watch. Shy tiny Sabin clung desperately to his foster parent, burying his head into her neck and screaming as hard as his little lungs could muster. Just as we were thinking to take him away, the screaming stopped and his curiosity grew. He started to peep out from under his arm. As he saw the other toddlers playing, his inquisitiveness got the better of him. By the time the session was over Sabin was jumping up and down laughing and shouting – arms pumping up and down with excited pleasure.'

Jan Salter continued, ‘Kamala, an older girl with learning difficulties, very cautiously joined the group. Unable to at first relate to this new situation, she sat shyly on the side.  But with in half an hour she was hugging Tara.’

Mango was found virtually bald from severe mange and covered in horrendous weeping sores. After his treatment he was a new dog – a handsome part-pedigree Tibetan Terrier with a perky character to match.

Tara, who was probably injured in a car accident, spent most of her young life shut in a tiny dirty cage. She developed gangrene and had to endure many operations to save her life, paid for by a kindly expat who was horrified by her living conditions. Tara was brought to KAT at the time of her saviour’s departure from Nepal.  This stoic little dog has been a well established member of KAT for years. What wonderful candidates for being the first Dr Dogs, providing animal-assisted therapy to orphans!

Jan Salter brings animal-assisted therapy to disabled children in Kathmandu, NepalBal Krishna Dangol, deputy director of Nepal Children’s Organization at Bal Mandir orphanage, said: ‘It has been my dream to have this kind of interaction between animals and the children at Bal Mandir. Animals help stimulate minds and communication. And as we have just seen so clearly – it has been far better than I expected. We will make this a regular feature for our children.’

The Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre and Bal Mandir orphanage were first introduced by Bec and Adam Ordish of the Mitrataa Foundation, an Australia based non-profit organisation operating exclusively in Nepal. The Foundation was established over eight years ago by Bec and Adam after they spent five months living in Kathmandu working as volunteer English teachers.

‘The response from the children who are physically and mentally challenged was a joy to watch,’ said Jan Salter. ‘The exchange, which lasted over an hour and a half, left the children with radiant smiling excited faces. Wow, what a success! I hope we can attract other institutions to follow Bal Mandir’s lead.’

Learn how you can bring pet therapy to a school for the disabled or an orphanage!