Chhimi Dema 

Operating a thousand dogs a day on average in the 46 clinics, the Nationwide Accelerated Dog Population Management and Rabies Control Programme (NADPM and RCP) has neutered 20,814 dogs as of yesterday.

Of that, 2,090 were dogs with owners and 18,724 strays.

There are 28,224 non-neutered unowned free-roaming dogs in the country, according to the dog population census conducted last year. 

The survey found that there are 72,621 free-roaming dogs; 26,951 were owned but left to roam freely; 44,038 were stray dogs.

The highest number of non-neutered dogs was recorded in Paro with 3,123 dogs followed by Trashigang, and Samtse.

The programme has covered 69 gewogs in 19 dzongkhags. Currently, the first phase of the sterilisation campaign is underway.

The first phase started in 11 dzongkhags; Bumthang, Gasa, Haa, Lhuntse, Mongar, Paro, Thimphu, Trashigang, Trashiyangtse, Trongsa, and Tsirang.

Records with the programme show that 324 livestock officials and 1,106 desuups are engaged in it.

The second phase will commence from April 18 to May 1 in the rest of the dzongkhags.

Deputy chief veterinary officer, Karma Wangdi, said that the programme is on schedule. “Local governments are supporting the officials involved in the implementation of the programme.”

The only challenge, he said, is catching aggressive dogs.

This programme is coming after more than five decades of similar programmes to manage the dog population.

The government took initiatives since the 1970s to control the dog population. Livestock officials earlier said that the programmes were unsuccessful because sterilisation coverage was never 100 percent due to limited manpower to catch free-roaming dogs.

This time, the livestock department has strengthened the programme by developing strategies that would achieve a sterilisation coverage of 100 percent, register and vaccinate all pet dogs, and control the number of feral dogs.