Without much ado, neighbouring Bhutan has apparently become the first country in the world to fully sterilise and vaccinate all its street dogs, in a 14-year project.
Bhutan may be a small country, but it’s certainly been big on intent while handling animal welfare and human health, in humane and civilised manner. And its achievement provides a stark contrast to the blood-lust seen in some quarters, against stray dogs in India — when the need is, in fact, for scientific investigations into alleged dog-linked incidents and strengthening of programmes implemented by municipalities and animal non-government organisations (NGOs).
Bhutan’s achievement comes after “years of investment in a humane dog management program,” said global animal charity Humane Society International, (HSI) that was involved with this project. In fact, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering recognised their support in Bhutan’s street dog welfare success from 2009 until its closure – “a decade and a half of intensive, targeted spay/neuter work and community engagement initiatives” undertaken by Bhutan and HSI, it added. The project sterilised and vaccinated more than 1,50,000 street dogs and micro-chipped 32,000 pet dogs.
The targeted spay/neuter programme is not new to India, and several States including Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, have been implementing it with reasonable success. It is an ongoing task, that needs more resources, by way of funds, veterinarians, genuine animal NGOs and pharmaceutical companies (making rabies vaccines etc), to effectively expand this sterilisation and vaccination programme across the country.
No one in their right mind wants violence — involving animal or human. But recent tragic incidents have seen some people rush to promote hate-filled agendas, even as details behind these alleged dog-linked incidents remain unclear. All because animals cannot tweet or vote.
As the world marks One Health day, recognising links between human, animal and environment health, India needs to strengthen its Animal Birth Control (ABC) programme, promote dog adoption, regulate the commercial pet trade and ensure that ahimsa sits at the heart of these policies.