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