This is to address issues of irresponsible ownership of pets and other domestic animals, among others
LHAKPA TSHERING | Thimphu
To control and manage free-roaming dogs, feral dogs, and stray animals in the country, the government has introduced additional livestock and pet management measures to be implemented with immediate effect.
The Prime Minister, following the decision of the 129th Session of the Lhengye Zhungtshog on 14 September, issued an executive order earlier this month to enforce additional livestock and pet management and regulatory provisions.
To address issues of irresponsible ownership of pets and other domestic animals, among others, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests in collaboration with the regulatory authority, dzongkhag, thromdes, and other stakeholders will implement the measures.
“The government seeks the support and cooperation of the public in securing healthy dog population, as well as building safe communities for the people,” Lyonchhen stated in the executive order.
Lyonchhen said that Bhutan is a nation founded on the Buddhist values of love, compassion, and spirituality. “Emanating from the Throne itself, these values transcend humans and pervade among all beings in the country,” he said.
He added that it is only to be expected that His Majesty ensured the care and protection of animals even when the nation was battling the pandemic.
“In one such unprecedented move that almost ran parallel to the nationwide Covid-19 vaccination, a mass sterilization program was rolled out for professional management of dog population in the country,” he said.
Lyonchhen added that the nationwide accelerated dog population management and rabies control program is not just historic but a success story that appends Bhutan’s achievement in handling the Covid-19 pandemic.
While he commended the selfless efforts of the concerned offices and all individuals involved in this endeavor, Lyonchhen said, this is just the beginning and much remains to be done to sustain the benefits of the campaign.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MoAF) will prescribe necessary measures for the management of feral, aggressive, and stray animals to safeguard public health and safety.
With the additional measures coming into force, any person or agency found in contravention of the provisions will be penalized as per the livestock rules and regulations.
It also mandates pet owners to take proper care of their animals. Any person who abandons the pets will be liable for payment of fines and then be confiscated.
Owners who release or fail to secure the pets in public places will be liable for payment of fines. They are also liable for payment of medical costs, labor days lost, or production loss in case of injury to animals or the cost of property damage.
Besides, animal welfare organizations, Tshethar tshogpa, or any other entity or person desiring to establish and operate animal shelters should obtain technical clearance from the department of livestock.
Failing to do so will be liable for payment of fines and will also result in the closure of animal shelters and the confiscation of animals.
In addition, the management or release of animals by the animal welfare organization, tshethar tshogpas, or any other entity or person will be regulated as per the Bhutan Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines, and Tshethar Guidelines of the MoAF.
Further, the feeding of stray animals in public places, highways, or roadsides is prohibited to safeguard public health and safety.