Ideally, registration and microchipping of dogs should be done by breeders but in Nepal, the government does not even have a record of the total number of breeders and kennel clubs in the country. In fact, there is no law stipulating breeders have to be registered, adding to the risk of animal abuse.
Laws preventing animal abuse are relatively new in Nepal. The Ministry of Livestock Department developed the Animal Welfare Directive only in 2016 and even that has no provision to punish offenders.
To be sure, animal abuse is criminalised under the Criminal Code of Nepal. Yet, specific laws for animal welfare are still missing such as the specificity of animal hospitals and clinics, breeding and shops. What this has done is proliferate so-called ‘animal hospitals’ that lack basic veterinary equipment and mostly function as breeders or pet shops.
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“With increasing pet ownership, particularly that of canines, we need proper guidelines. Many first generation dog owners need to be taught how to treat their pets well,” says Pramada Shah of Animal Nepal.
Diktel municipality in Khotang district became notorious two years ago for brutally beating and killing stray dogs. A video clip of the torture and killing of a dog named Khairey in Banepa last year provoked outrage and street protests. There have been frequent mass poisonings of street dogs. And in 2019, hundreds of street cows were pushed off a cliff in Surkhet by a contractor who was supposed to transport them to a shelter.
Animal rights activists say that the central government needs to draw up uniform laws so that offenders, be they pet owners, locals, shops or breeders, can be held accountable.