Guwahati: In a remarkable feat of animal welfare, Bhutan has become the first country in the world to eradicate stray dog overpopulation through a comprehensive sterilization and vaccination program that spanned 14 years.
This achievement was announced by Humane Society International (HSI), a global animal welfare organization that played a crucial role in implementing the program.
Since its inception in 2009, the National Dog Population Management and Rabies Control Project has successfully sterilized and vaccinated over 150,000 stray dogs, significantly curbing their numbers and mitigating the risk of rabies transmission. Additionally, the project microchipped 32,000 pet dogs to facilitate responsible pet ownership.
“This might seem like a small step, but it will go a long way in nation-building,” remarked Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, acknowledging the far-reaching impact of this initiative. He commended the dedication of thousands of community volunteers, known as ‘de-suups,’ who played an instrumental role in the project’s success.
Prime Minister Tshering emphasized the global significance of this achievement, stating, “This is a historic gathering, not just for the nation but globally.”
He highlighted the importance of effective sterilization and vaccination programs in preventing the uncontrolled growth of stray dog populations, which often leads to increased dog bites and the spread of rabies.
According to a HSI press release, approximately 300 million stray dogs roam Asia, facing dire conditions including starvation, parasitic infections, untreated diseases, and injuries from road accidents and transmissible cancers. These vulnerable animals are often subjected to persecution and inhumane culling practices.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that rabies causes around 59,000 deaths worldwide annually, with most cases resulting from dog bites.
Governments across Asia have frequently resorted to inhumane methods of managing stray dog populations, such as culling and mass sheltering.
Bhutan’s groundbreaking achievement stands as a testament to the effectiveness of humane and sustainable approaches to animal welfare and public health. The nation’s success serves as an inspiration to other countries seeking to tackle the challenges posed by stray dog populations.