Canine: Dog bite cases are significantly less in developed world where there are strong pet dog policies and laws.

This is what the chief executive officer of Humane Society International Dr Andrew Rowan conveyed, while attending the dog population management workshop in Thimphu recently.

In Canada, Dr Andrew Rowan said that there is only one dog bite case per 100,000 people.

The number of dog bites per 100,000 people in South Asia, is 700.

World’s dog population is estimated at about 700 million (M), out of which 400M are pets and 300M stray. In China alone, there are about 120M dogs, of which 24M are pets.

About 5000 dog bite cases in humans are reported annually in the country, according to veterinary officials.

Project director of National Dog Population Management and Rabies Control Project (NDPM &RCP), Dr Kinzang Dukpa, said that an increasing number of free-roaming dogs cause littering, nuisance, bites, threats and accidents.

Agriculture secretary Tenzin Dhendup said that Bhutan could adopt pet dog policy, but that will take some time.

Tenzin Dhendup said that one of the reasons for the rise in dog population is people’s habit of feeding stray dogs.

Recently, a pet dog bit a civil servant in Motithang in Thimphu when she went to withdraw cash from an ATM. “There is a serious need for a pet policy in the country,” she said. “People let their pet dogs roam outside because there is no pet policy.”

Antoinette Bradley, a participant at the workshop, said people should own pet dogs in a responsible manner and that pet owners should be educated about their responsibility. “Ownership of dogs should be encouraged among people,” he said.

Dr Kinzang Dukpa said that Bhutan has long been plagued with increasing number of free-roaming dogs, mainly in urban areas, resulting in increasing incidences of dog bites and rabies disease. “Other problems such as social nuisance, environmental littering, and public health concerns have also been on the rise.”

In Bhutan, the implementation of dog population management strategies started in the early 1970s. Due to cultural reasons, however, the methods proved unsuccessful.

Dr Kinzang Dukpa said that out of desperation, many people tried trans-locating dogs from town.  This had an extremely detrimental effect. Dogs turned wild and preyed on livestock and wildlife.

MB Subba