New Spay/Neuter Program in Bhutan

Published on Jul 03 2009 // Main News

Kathmandu, July 3, 2009: After two years of discussion, Humane Society International has announced the beginning of a nationwide spay neuter program in Bhutan.

In a statement issued Thursday, it said the humane, science-based street dog management and rabies control program is a partnership between the government of Bhutan, HSI and the Bhutan Foundation.

The three to five year program will start by September and is expected to help spay/neuter and vaccinate close to 50,000 dogs across the country.

Rahul Sehgal, HSI India director, said, “I am so glad that the top officials of Bhutan have taken the time to discuss this issue at length and decide on a long-term, effective solution with the welfare of street dogs at its core.”

Overpopulation of free-roaming dogs has been a major problem in Bhutan. For this Buddhist nation, controlling their numbers using fatal methods was never an option. On their lists of items to pack, tourism agencies often include “ear plugs” in bold, capital letters to help visitors manage to sleep through the sounds of dogs barking and howling all night long in the city streets.

Before the new program was approved, HSI carried out a four-month long pilot program in Thimphu, and collected and presented data to help convince authorities that spay/neuter, along with education/awareness, strict licensing laws, and responsible pet ownership were the only ways to effectively manage the homeless dog population.

Fourteen staff from the HSI India office put together a successful project, carrying out a population census twice to collect comparative data of pre-and post-pilot scenarios. In total, 2,866 dogs were sterilized and vaccinated over the four-month period. About 15 percent of the dogs were pets.

The program will cost US$1 million, half of the cost borne by the Royal Government of Bhutan. HIS said it is hoping to raise the remainder from its supporters and create a workable model for others to follow.

“Ideally, this spay/neuter/vaccinate/return project will not only reduce the suffering of Bhutan’s street dogs, but help improve the lives of street dogs in developing countries worldwide,” HIS said.