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    • 21 Oct, 2020

    An interview with our dog handlers in Afghanistan

    We recently caught up with Ahmad Farid and Rahmatullah, who work as dog handlers in Mayhew Afghanistan’s Animal Birth Control (ABC) Centre in Kabul.

    They work in the pre- and post-operative care kennel block and help to look after all the dogs that come through the clinic as part of our Trap, Vaccinate, Neuter, Return (TVNR) programme.

    How did you become a dog handler?

    Ahmad Farid: I was previously a team leader in the dog-culling programme that was run by Kabul Municipality, which was very upsetting for me. In 2017, I was chosen for retraining and learned humane dog handling and catching techniques*. Instead of poisoning dogs, we started to vaccinate and then neuter them. I then started as a dog handler for the ABC Centre when it opened in July 2019.

    Rahmatullah: I was part of the vaccination team in the field, trying to catch dogs by hand. When the neutering programme started, I asked if I could work at the clinic as a dog handler and was accepted.

    *In January 2017, Mayhew Afghanistan signed a landmark agreement with Kabul Municipality to stop the culling of dogs and instead implement a mass canine rabies vaccination programme and, subsequently, a spay and neuter programme.

    What are your duties and responsibilities?

    Ahmad Farid: We look after the dogs from when they are first brought to the clinic to when they are returned. We ensure they are safe and care for their needs. I have different methods for handling small, medium and big dogs, and also other methods of dealing with aggressive dogs.

    Rahmatullah: The most important responsibilities are to make sure dogs feel calm and relaxed when they are handled. I also take care of their needs, such as having a clean kennel, healthy food and clean water.

    Do you enjoy your work?

    Ahmad Farid: Yes. I love dogs and I really prefer to work at the clinic rather than out in the field as I can handle the dogs and be close to them.

    Rahmatullah: I feel very happy. I can see that I have a gift for handling dogs and understand how to behave around them.

    What have you learned during your time as a dog handler?

    Ahmad Farid: I have been working at the clinic for about one year and I have learned more about dog behaviours and their needs. Also, sometimes when I feel down and play with the dogs they can help me feel better too!

    Rahmatullah: I now look after double the number of dogs I did when I first started at the clinic. I try my best to make sure that when transferring them from the ambulance to the operation room they are not hurt and feel safe.

    Are you pleased to be part of Mayhew Afghanistan’s TVNR programme in Kabul?

    Ahmad Farid: I am grateful that this programme started and prevented the culling of more dogs. In my view, the best way of controlling the dog population is neutering, and as a human that has compassion I can’t agree to killing them.

    Rahmatullah: I think the neutering programme is better than culling the dogs because just killing them can’t control the dog population.

     

    In conversation with Mayhew International

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