Lack of community support impedes dog population control programme

Choki Wangmo

Did you complain about noise pollution from increasing dog population in the capital? Are you one of those who pretended not to see the dog catchers? If so, you are part of the problem faced by the officials implementing the waste management and stray dog population control flagship programmes in urban areas.

While presenting an update of the programmes to the Prime Minister yesterday, an official from the livestock department said that catching dogs was comparatively difficult in the thromde areas due to poor response from the public. It has affected the progress of sterilisation and vaccination programmes even.

Currently, 1,363 dogs and 56 cats were sterilised and vaccinated with the sterilisation and vaccination campaign in Changzamtog School until this month.

The clinic is now moved to Hongtsho since the community support is higher in the peri-urban and rural areas, said the official.

“Earlier, the local government leaders committed to help us but when we visited the areas, they don’t respond to us. Community commitment is necessary to catch dogs,” he added.

By the end of this year, the programme is expected to sterilise and vaccinate 4,000 stray dogs in the capital.

The Prime Minister, Dr Lotay Tshering, said that the challenge could be addressed through incentive measures. For example, if an individual can catch five dogs, he can be rewarded Nu 500. He also said that darting could be an easy method to catch aggressive dogs. This, however, wasn’t received well by the animal welfare groups.

Royal Society for the Protection and Care of Animals and Jangsa Animal Shelter are part of the dog population control flagship programme.

Under the programme, 1,216 dogs and 76 cats were vaccinated against rabies in Phuentsholing and 1,111 dogs were vaccinated in Kanglung and Samkhar gewogs in Trashigang to contain rabies outbreak in March.

The dog population management survey is also underway in Thimphu, Paro and Bumthang to establish baseline data and emulate the management strategy in Haa as a model for the rest of the country.

The dzongkhag has 95 percent success rate due to strong community support. More than 1,000 dogs were neutered and 635 were adopted.

Once the baseline data is established, it would be easier to carry out interventions, said the official.

In the future, under the waste management programme activities in the National Management Plan for Biomedical and Hazardous Waste would be implemented. The team is also proposing ways to assist waste handlers and scrap dealers on the stock piling of trash due to border closure due to Covid-19 pandemic.

The Phase-I of the programme has just about begun—implementation of three coloured bins and comprehensive waste management system from source to disposal sites in Thimphu.

The first four drop-off centres are in Semtokha, Lungtenphu, Changzamtog, and Babesa. Including the existing drop-off centre at Kelki Higher Secondary School, there would be 11 drop-off centres by the end of 2021.

In the last Parliament session, the National Assembly rejected the Economic and Finance Committee’s recommendation to re-prioritise waste and stray dog flagship programme in wake of the economic downturn due to Covid-19 with 35 votes.

Around Nu 248 million has been allocated for waste and stray dog management flagship programmes.

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