With increasing complaints on the stray dog menace and growing public health risk owing to the same, the Department of Livestock (DoL) conducted a vaccination and sterilization program at Gidakom and Bjemina in Thimphu to stabilize the dog population.
About 90 dogs (stray and pets) were sterilized and vaccinated in these two areas whereas a total of 300-350 dogs were sterilized and vaccinated within Thimphu.
A DoL official said the rise in the number of stray dogs in these areas is a cause of concern and the sterilization program would help control the number of stray dogs.
He added that the rising stray dog population has become a menace that needs to be dealt with urgently. “Communities have been complaining about stray dogs. People are finding it difficult to cope with the problem.”
According to the official, there is lack of support from the public to catch dogs for sterilization and vaccination, particularly in the urban areas. “There are many stray dogs in mining and quarry areas where food and shelter were available, but not veterinary care,” he said.
Likewise, with the campaign, the DoL is currently in the process of developing a waste management program that is expected to address the amount of kitchen waste generated and the subsequent foraging of stray dogs.
Waste management has the potential to reduce the dog population because stray dogs scavenge on waste, the officials.
Dog bite victims can be provided treatment but it does not solve the problem in the community. “Dog owners should take responsibility because people provide shelter and food to puppies but abandon them once they grow up.”
A dog owner said there that the dog population at Gidakom is increasing. “I have seen many people coming and letting dogs free here, one reason why the population has increased. Strangers leaving dogs here will cause serious issues in the future.”
Unlike in the past, people are aware of the risks of dog bites and visit the hospital even for scratches.
“One reason why the sterilization didn’t show results in the past could be because the required 50% coverage of the dog population wasn’t done,” he said. “Today 90% of the dog population is covered.”
The DoL official said that sterilization is the one of the solutions to this issue. The community can bring the dogs for sterilization. “But communities need to help us to catch the stray dogs to sterilize them.”
He said that for those dogs suffering from diseases or severe infections such as broken abdomen, euthanasia should be accepted.
Kinley Yonten from Thimphu