Elimination of dogs
May 1993: In an effort to control rabies and other dog-related diseases, Zhemgang dzongkhag began eliminating stray dogs on May 8. The programme, conducted by the dzongkhag animal husbandry sector also announced that all pet dogs must be vaccinated, sterilised and properly registered.dogs must be vaccinated, sterilised and properly registered.
Stray dogs being poisoned
January 1996: The City Corporation has warned Thimphu residents not to let out pet dogs without collars because they could become victims of a purge under way. The dogs are being killed with poisoned meat. The Thrompon said that in the past the City Corporation shot the dogs with poisoned cartridges. Although more effective, this method was discontinued because it was both risky and expensive. Poisoning is slower and takes longer so the municipality has engaged a full time employee to carry out the job all year round. On an average the man is reported to have killed 150 dogs in two months. City Corporation officials said that this is being done to control the increasing number of stray dogs and the spread of related diseases like rabies and distemper.
Drug to reduce canine population
August 1990: To reduce the canine population, the Department of Animal Husbandry has finally found an alternative through chemo-sterilisation of male animals using ‘Tulsar,’ a recently discovered drug. The discoverer of the drug, professor G.P. Talwar from the National Institute of Immunology, and his associate, Dr Sunil Chabra, held a training cum seminar on animal production control in Thimphu on August 21 and 22.
Alarm turns into panic
March 1991: According to Thimphu doctors, the alarm over the increasing number of dog bites in the valley is growing into a panic. In the last three months, the Thimphu General Hospital alone treated 196 people for dog bites. In March, more than 70 people were bitten.
More than 20 animals have been bitten by rabid dogs, and 16 people began the vaccination course after they touched the meat of a rabid cow. Doctors also warn that children should not be given milk from a cow which has been bitten by a rabid dog.
A visitor to Bhutan came to the Kuensel office to describe a gruesome scene in Thimphu town when an expatriate woman became hysterical after being attacked by a pack of dogs. Almost every Thimphu resident relates a nasty experience with dogs. Most people do not venture out of their homes at night for fear of dogs. In most parts of the valley, residents say that it is not safe for children to leave their houses at all. In the RICB apartment blocks, one resident said that all the cats in the area had been eaten by the dogs.
Shaken and fearful after dog attacks on Thimphu streets
Twice in the past few weeks I have been attacked by packs of dogs while walking to work. I did not provoke them in any way, and I was not passing through the property they were guarding. I certainly want to thank the Bhutanese who intervened in each case to help disperse the attackers. I am still shaken and now fear my daily walk… I deeply appreciate the Buddhist reverence for all life. I myself am an animal lover, a conservationist and a vegetarian. I do believe, however, that human beings are also important, and deserve to be protected from potentially lethal attacks by Thimphu’s thousands of roving dogs.
Carol Reilly Urner, Thimphu school teacher
No more dogs needed
We at Nobding school were very happy to see an army truck full of stray dogs at Nobding thinking that the army was taking care of the street dogs in Nobding. But, alas, the truckload of dogs was dumped in Nobding adding to our misery of too many stray dogs. We learnt that the dogs had been brought from Tenchholing, Wangdiphodrang. Nobding school is situated about six kilometres from the basic health unit making it very difficult for us to get medical attention in case of a dog bite. Moreover, we already have a stray dog population that is a menace, both to the school campus and to the students. The school community of Nobding will be grateful if the higher authorities can look into this matter and take proper action.
Teachers of Nobding Primary
Mangy dogs and Buddhism
I am writing having recently returned from a holiday in Bhutan and felt that it was a privilege to be allowed to visit your country. However, during a visit to Punakha dzong, I saw three dogs (one a puppy) severely affected with mange. They were in a dreadful state and clearly suffering. In such a religious place, where animals are supposed to be respected and revered, how can such suffering be allowed? What sort of example are Buddhist monks setting to the ordinary people of Bhutan if they so clearly ignore the suffering of animals that live in their community? What sort of an impression do tourists leave Bhutan with if the memory of a visit to an important dzong is of suffering animals? Before leaving Bhutan I managed to contact the Piloa Medical Centre and so, hopefully, the dogs are now receiving treatment. It is a sad state of affairs that treatment for the dogs had to be arranged by a visitor to your country. I am writing this letter in the hope that it may help some other neglected animals.
Adrienne Golightly, Surrey, UK