Officials say residents’ inaction makes it challenging  

Neten Dorji | Trashigang

A mass dog vaccination has begun in Trashigang after a dead dog in Kanglung tested positive for rabies on June 7.

Dzongkhag livestock officials said that it was a preventive measure.

“A rapid test of its samples showed that the dog was infected with rabies,” said an official. “The place had a history of a rabies outbreak.”

Officials vaccinated more than 500 stray dogs in Kanglung gewog and about 510 in Trashigang town as of yesterday including Lungzor and Samcholing Lhakhang areas.

The stray dogs are marked with a unique collar so that they can be identified.

Officials said the disease is fatal for humans and animals alike if not treated on time. “Treating an infected person would cost more than Nu 100,000.”

The teams of dog catchers and vaccinators are all livestock officials and officials of the Regional Livestock Development Centre.

One of the officials said that to control rabies and ensure all stray dogs are vaccinated, every resident in the community has to help.

The request to residents to catch strays fell on deaf ears, livestock officials said.

“So far, only livestock officials and authorities have engaged in addressing this issue. We want the community to take part in at least catching stray dogs because if we miss any infected dog, the diseases will reappear.”

He added that one of the major challenges remain in catching the stray dogs in new areas. “Hoteliers and restauranteurs can handle them easily without any harm or harassment to the dogs. Whereas dogs run away when they see us.”

Dzongkhag Livestock Officer, Naina S Tamang said that they vaccinated stray dogs annually. “We expect that rabies vaccination this year will run better than the previous years. Right after we detected a positive case, we took immediate action and alerted the residents.”

He said the government mobilised various resources to ensure the success of rabies control and vaccination. “But we lack adequate budget and cooperation from the public, especially in the towns. Dogs in all 15 gewogs were vaccinated with the budget from the respective gewog administrations.”

Livestock officials said that 100 percent vaccination coverage was a big challenge. They cover almost 80 percent of the population every year.

Meanwhile, Trashigang dzongkhag administration has notified all religious and education institutions, Kanglung and Samkhar gewogs and Trashigang town to cooperate with the officials.

“For immediate control and prevention of rabies, officials would carry out the aggressive mass anti-rabies and treatment of any disorder of pets and stay canine population,” a notification from the dzongkhag stated.