Bhutan’s sec­ond dog pop­u­la­tion sur­vey shows re­mark­able progress in ca­nine man­age­ment

Bhutan Times - - Home - Staff Reporter

Hu­mane So­ci­ety In­ter­na­tional (HSI) one of the global an­i­mal pro­tec­tion or­gan­i­sa­tion in a joint project with the Depart­ment of Live­stock un­der the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture and Forests has con­ducted its sec­ond dog pop­u­la­tion sur­vey in Bhutan since 2009, when the coun­try’s na­tional dog pop­u­la­tion man­age­ment (NDPM) and ra­bies con­trol project was launched.

Ap­prox­i­mately 85,000 dogs in Bhutan have un­der­gone ster­il­iza­tion and anti-ra­bies vac­ci­na­tion since that time.

Af­ter re­searchers an­a­lyse the re­sults, it will en­ables us to de­ter­mine the pet pop­u­la­tion per 100 hu­mans. The find­ings will be cru­cial to de­sign­ing re­spon­si­ble pet own­er­ship and com­mu­nity en­gage­ment pro­grams.

Two sur­veys were con­ducted from June 24 to July 10 for the street dog pop­u­la­tion count and a knowl­edge at­ti­tude prac­tice sur­vey. The sur­veys counted the street dog and house­hold pet dog pop­u­la­tion, and doc­u­mented at­ti­tudes and prac­tices of hu­mans to­wards their dogs. The ex­er­cise was con­ducted to find out the street dog pop­u­la­tion sur­vey in the eight Dzongkhags of Thim­phu, Paro, Samtse, Ch­hukha, Bhumthang, Trashigang, Sarpang and Sam­drupjongkhar.

The key cat­e­gories of data col­lected in­cludes the to­tal num­ber of street dogs, num­ber of ster­il­ized dogs, num­ber of un­ster­il­ized dogs, num­ber of lac­tat­ing fe­males, num­ber of pups, body con­di­tion and skin con­di­tion. These de­tails were recorded via an open street map tracker ap­pli­ca­tion de­signed for ac­cu­rate GPS tag­ging of the dogs’ ex­act lo­ca­tions.

The house­hold pet dog sur­vey was con­ducted in Thim­phu and Paro to doc­u­ment pet in­forma- tion, his­tory of dog bites and gen­eral at­ti­tudes re­lated to street dogs. The re­spon­si­bil­ity and com­mit­ment level of the own­ers, whether the dog is al­lowed to roam freely or not, and the health and well-be­ing of the dog were also as­sessed.

The main find­ings of sur­vey ca­lum­ni­ates that about 21 per­cent of ur­ban house­holds in Thim­phu and Paro own pet dogs. 40 per­cent of ru­ral house­holds own a pet dog. 60-80 per­cent of dogs in Bhutan are ster­ilised and vac­ci­nated. Ca­nine trans­mis­si­ble vene­real tu­mours (CTVT) were com­mon among street dogs be­fore the project started in 2009.

In the 2018 sur­vey, no dogs were found with CTVT in Thim­phu city. The HSI team sug­gests this to be the di­rect con­se­quence of the NDPM pro­gram.

Dr. Hiruka Ma­hat, deputy chief ve­teri­nary of­fi­cer with Na­tional Cen­tre for An­i­mal Health in Ser­bithang states, “The Mon­i­tor­ing Eval­u­a­tion Im­pact As­sess­ment, which in­cludes the KAP sur­vey and street dog count, are vi­tal tools to gauge the im­pact the Na­tional Dog Pop­u­la­tion Man­age­ment and Ra­bies Con­trol Project had on hav­ing a sus­tain­able dog pop­u­la­tion in the coun­try since its in­cep­tion in 2009. The KAP sur­vey has helped us de­ter­mine any im­prove­ment in com­mu­nity knowl­edge and per­cep­tions to­wards free-roam­ing dogs and its con­trol pro­gramme and how the pub­lic per­cep­tion has changed over time. This would en­able us to have ap­pro­pri­ate strate­gies in place that would go a long way in achiev­ing the project goals.”

Dr. Amit Chaud­hari, se­nior pro­gram man­ager, mon­i­tor­ing and eval­u­a­tion of Hu­man So­ci­ety In­ter­na­tional, In­dia said, “It is im­por­tant to un­der­stand the im­pact of dog ster­il­iza­tion in­ter­ven­tion in Bhutan. Af­ter al­most 10 years of the ster­il­iza­tion project, we can see what trends are de­vel­op­ing. We con­ducted the first sur­vey for Bhutan in 2015 in which we found high ster­il­iza­tion rate in ur­ban ar­eas like Thim­phu and Paro city (67% ster­il­ized street dogs in Thim­phu city and 73.8% in Paro) while in ru­ral area it was quite low (45.5% ster­il­ized street dogs in Thim­phu Ru­ral ar­eas and 57.6% in Paro Ru­ral area). Now, three years later, we can com­pare both sit­u­a­tions and learn more about com­plex dog dy­nam­ics.”

HSI and its part­ner or­gan­i­sa­tions to­gether con­sti­tute one of the world’s largest an­i­mal pro­tec­tion or­gan­i­sa­tions. For more than 25 years, HSI has been work­ing for the pro­tec­tion of all an­i­mals through the use of sci­ence, ad­vo­cacy, ed­u­ca­tion and hands on pro­grams. Cel­e­brat­ing an­i­mals and con­fronting cru­elty world­wide.

Ca­nine man­age­ment: Ap­prox­i­mately 85,000 dogs in Bhutan have un­der­gone ster­il­iza­tion and anti-ra­bies vac­ci­na­tion since 2009

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