Task to curb stray dog menace continues

The program is being implemented by the National Canter for Animal Health , Serbithang under the Department of Livestock of the Ministry of Agriculture & Forest

The program aims to achieve zero dog-mediated human rabies by 2030

Sonam Penjor

A Dog Population Management (DPM) campaign was launched in the capital on 25 March to reduce stray dog population to a manageable level in public places with 95 percent sterilization coverage.

The initiative, among others, will also reverse the ratio of owned and un-owned dogs from existing 30:70 to 70:30 through adoption and will aim at achieving 100 percent registration and sterilization of owned dogs,

The program also aims to achieve zero dog-mediated human rabies by 2030.

The campaign is guided by the three principles of consultation, collaboration and commitment and relies on innovation as well as teamwork with active involvement of local government, animal welfare organizations and relevant stakeholders in its implementation.

Program Director for National Centre for Animal Health, Serbithang under Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, Dr R. B Gurung, said the campaign is to sterilize maximum number of dogs that are left unsterilized. “This time we are targeting to achieve at least 95 percent coverage.”

The campaign will also focus on creating awareness among the masses to adopt the dogs so that; it increases the number of owned dogs.

A press release from the Department of Livestock states that the DPM program through its Catch, Neuter, Vaccinate and Release (CNVR) protocol is aimed towards achieving the objectives of improve health and welfare of owned and un-owned dog population.

Additionally, it will also reduce numbers of free-roaming dogs through enhanced animal birth control; promote responsible dog ownership, dog adoption and community animal birth control through community engagement; reduce the risk of dog bites and transmission of zoonotic diseases from dogs to humans and manage feral dogs through interventions focused at human-animal-wildlife interface.

Foreign Affairs Minister, Lyonpo Dr Tandi Dorji, and Chairperson of the National Waste Management and Stray Dog Population Control (NWM & SDPC) Flagship Programme, who was the chief guest during the launch, said that dogs can reproduce twice a year and give birth to about 16 puppies. Therefore, if we don’t sterilize them early the numbers will not come down.

He said there have been many examples in countries where such program should not only be sustained but should be continued for a number of years.

Dr. R. B Gurung said that the reproductive rate of dog is far greater than the sterilization rate. Therefore, he added that the program would be narrowing the gap and stabilizes the stray dog population in due course of time.

Initiating this important program, Dr. Tandi Dorji said the government has implemented the waste management and stray dog population control program which both are very much related and interlinked.

As per a survey done in May 2020, Thimphu Thromde and peri- urban areas have a total population of 13, 000 dogs, out of which about 6, 000 are free roaming dogs and around 4, 000 of these dogs are un-sterilized.

In view of the high numbers and concerted efforts required a holistic approach through multi-sectorial collaboration is adopted involving relevant stakeholders such as Thimphu Thromde, Animal Welfare Organizations, BTFEC, Desuung volunteers, Thimphu Dzongkhag administration and volunteers to ensure a successful campaign.

The press release further states that the field clinics for the campaign will be in three strategic locations of North Thimphu, Core town area and South Thimphu to achieve maximum coverage.

The campaign started from the core town area in Chubachu and the subsequent locations for North and South Thimphu would be informed soon.  The general public is requested to take their dogs to the campaign sites to get them sterilized and vaccinated against rabies.

Till date, the DPM program was successfully conducted in Haa and Paro with over 93 percent sterilization and anti-rabies vaccination coverage of 3685 dogs sterilized and vaccinated against rabies and the program is currently underway in Bumthang.

The DPM program is currently being implemented by the National Centre for Animal Health, Serbithang under the Department of Livestock of the Ministry of Agriculture & Forests.

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