Chhimi Dema 

Free-roaming dogs in and around the capital city for years troubled the residents and deprived many of their sleep. There were also incidences of dogs attacking school-going children and joggers early morning.

To ensure the safety of the residents and provide shelter to aggressive dogs in the community, the Department of Livestock through the Nationwide Accelerated Dog Population Management (NADPM) and Rabies Control Programme (RCP) constructed two shelters for these dogs, each in Thimphu and Paro.

Head of the National Veterinary Hospital (NVH), Dr Kinley Dorji, said that the dog shelters are constructed in the two dzongkhags because of the high dog population density in the dzongkhags.

The nationwide free-roaming dog survey conducted this year found that Paro dzongkhag had the highest number of free-roaming and unneutered dogs (7,188 dogs). Thimphu has 6,320 free-roaming and unneutered dogs.

Dr Kinley Dorji said, “The shelters would take aggressive dogs posing threats to the residents and tourists.”

He said that NVH often gets calls from residents in Thimphu or other places asking to take aggressive dogs in their surroundings. “We will pick those dogs and take them to the shelter for people’s safety.”

Friendly free-roaming dogs would not be taken to the shelters.

The shelters would be handed over to civil society organisations or non-profit organisations after signing terms of reference for their operation.

Zeus, a dog-feeding organisation, would take over the dog shelter at Nakula in Thimphu.

The shelter, with a total area of four acres in Nakula, will be operational next week. It can keep about 400 dogs.

The shelter at Jizhigang, Dopshari in Paro has less than an acre. Currently, it is managed by the dzongkhag administration. The shelter has 420 dogs.

Dr Kinley Dorji said that the shelters also help to reduce the health sector’s cost of exposure vaccines given to individuals after dog bite incidences.

The Ministry of Health’s Annual Health Bulletin, in 2021, recorded 6,873 dog bite cases in the country.