Dechen Dolkar

Bhutan imported 90 pet dogs in the last five years, according to records maintained by the Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA).

Records show the pet dogs imported were of about 20 different breeds.

BAFRA shared the records maintained from January 2017 to December last year.

Most of the dogs were imported from India, followed by the Thailand and United States. People have brought pet dogs from Singapore, Cuba, Malaysia, China, Bulgaria, Myanmar, Swaziland, Nepal and Iraq.

It was learnt that besides Bhutanese, expats working in the country imported pet dogs.

According to the records, the imported breed includes Alaskan Husky, Pomeranian, Beagle, Apsoo, Persian, Sehnauzer, Saint Bernard, Golden Retriever, Canine, Labrador Retriever, Bull Dog, German Shepherd, Feline, Schnauzer, Pitbul, Shih Tzu, Chihualua and Pug.

As per the Livestock Act of Bhutan 2001, animals of any species and their products including foods of animal origin are restricted from entry into Bhutan, but those wanting to import the animals have to seek import permit from BAFRA at least three weeks before the scheduled date of entry of the animals in the country.

BAFRA’s procedure for the import of pet animals stated that people will have to pay an import fee of Nu 300 if they want to sell the animal and Nu 100 for pet dogs.

It also stated that the application for import permit must provide full details of the animal such as date of birth, sex, breed, colour, coat type or identification marks and the animal must be correctly identified with electronic microchip or tag at the time of entry.

“The animal must be accompanied by the zoosanitary certificate signed by the official veterinarian certifying that it is free from clinical signs or symptoms of infectious or contagious disease and fit to travel within 48 hours,” the import procedure stated.

It also stated that the animal has to be vaccinated against rabies, canine distemper, parvovirus, infectious canine hepatitis and Leptospira interrogans Canicola and Leptospira interrogans Icterohaemorrhagiae. “The vaccinations should be done at least one month before the date of entry except for rabies.”

It also mandates the animal to be quarantined for a 15 days period at the point of entry.

Meanwhile, many imported pet dog owners claimed their friends and family members gifted them the dogs.

Some claimed the pet dogs were bred here in the country.

A pet lover said that she bought a Beagle dog from Delhi three years ago by paying Nu 22,000.

Another pet lover, Tandin, said he bought a Labrador Retriever from Assam four years ago paying Nu 17,000.

However, officials from BAFRA said they do not ask the price as it is not mandated.

“Import permit doesn’t have price of the dogs. Many pet dog owners also claim that it was not bought,” an official said.

Officials also said that the cost of the dog depends on the types of the breeds and the country of origin.

Pet Business

Though it is allowed to do pet dog business by obtaining a permit from BAFRA, many people are doing business illegally, BAFRA officials claim.

An official said that before the pandemic, many people had imported dogs illegally into the country and were doing business, but it has reduced.

He said that if people want to do pet business, they have to seek approval from respective agencies after constructing a proper shelter. “There are many technical requirements. They should register with BAFRA.”

The official said that they have also traced people doing pet dog business illegally online.

In 2017, BAFRA auctioned five dogs after they traced people selling seven dogs online illegally. “Two died and five of them were sold for prices ranging from Nu 17,000 to 35,000 each.”