Bhutan’s 2nd dog population survey shows remarkable progress in canine management program

Thimphu: Humane Society International (HSI) in a joint project with the Department of Livestock, Bhutan has conducted its second dog population survey in Bhutan since 2009, when the country’s National Dog Population Management and Rabies Control Project (NDPMRCP) was launched. Approximately 85,000 dogs in Bhutan have undergone sterilisation and anti-rabies vaccination till date.

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

Key categories of data collected were a total number of street dogs, sterilised dogs, unsterilised dogs, lactating females, pups and body and skin conditions. 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 information, 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.

Key survey insights:

  • 21% of urban households in Thimphu and Paro city own pet dogs.
  • 40 % of rural households own a pet dog.
  • 60-80 % of dogs in Bhutan are sterilised and vaccinated.
  • Canine transmissible venereal tumors 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 National Dog Population Management program.

Dr. Hiruka Mahat, the Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer with Bhutan’s National Centre for Animal Health stated, ‘The monitoring evaluation impact assessment which includes the KAP survey and street dog count are vital tools to gauge the impact that the NDPMRCP had on having a sustainable dog population in the country since its inception. 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 the 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 with HSI, India said, ‘It is important to understand the impact of dog sterilisation intervention in Bhutan. After almost 10 years of the sterilisation project, we can see what trends are developing. We conducted the first survey for Bhutan in 2015 in which we found high sterilisation rate in urban areas like Thimphu and Paro city (67% sterilised street dogs in Thimphu city and 73.8% in Paro) while in rural area it was quite low (45.5 % sterilised 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.’

 

Submitted by Department of Livestock

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