February 27, 2012
Bhutan Street Dog Program Extended
In September 2009, HSI partnered with the Royal Bhutanese Government to run a three-year-long spay/neuter and vaccination program to reduce the future number of street dogs in the country and keep the existing animals healthy.
As of the end of this past January, we had sterilized 32,500 dogs, and we're on track to reach our target of 50,000 (as originally estimated to exist) by the agreed-upon date of September 2012, covering 18 out of 20 Dzonkhags (districts, including sub-districts and smaller areas).
More to do
Now, our contract has been extended by another two years after small-scale, local surveys revealed that the street dog population is likely higher than first thought. The spay/neuter/vaccinate program will also be handed over entirely to the local authorities in a phased manner so they can carry it forward and ensure sustained control. This transition is already underway; in the first year, the staff ratio was 90 percent HSI India: 10 percent Bhutanese and currently it is 30 percent HSI India: 70 percent Bhutanese.
One of the reasons why this has taken some time is because of the unusually small number of trained local veterinarians available. With awareness of and interest in the issue growing thanks in part to this program, this year will see a batch of 28 new Bhutanese veterinarians graduate from school and join the government and our initiative.
Given our good results, the Royal Bhutanese government has agreed to jointly fund the program extension, which means that donor support can be diverted to other projects in greater need. To ensure continued effectiveness, however, HSI India will provide operation tables, equipment and surgical supplies to spay/neuter clinics in all the 20 Dzongkhags of Bhutan, so every part of the country is covered.
In the meeting that our team had with government officials earlier this year, it was also decided that HSI would focus on thorough research and analysis of the impact of our program on local street dog animal welfare. A Bhutanese student studying at an Australian university is able to participate and will be able to offer a local perspective and cultural insights.
Our goals remain: to stabilize the Bhutanese street dog population while collecting the data needed to establish a model for other neighboring countries to adopt, thereby helping countless street dogs worldwide. Give today to support our efforts.