Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Bhutan : Chapter of animal cruelty closed

20 April, 2009 - The 1.15-acre mesh-wire fenced Memelakha dog pound enclosure, which was overcrowded with dogs just a few months ago, is now empty and silent.

After two years of chaos, the dog pound was emptied off the last batch of impounded dogs on Wednesday. A total of 80 impounded dogs were shifted to the Serbithang dog shelter.

“This chapter of animal cruelty has been closed,” said Jangsa Animal Trust volunteer, Sonam Norzin, who was hopeful that dog pounds in other parts of the country would close down as well. “The dogs transferred to Serbithang will be neutered and treated as quickly as possible.”

It was recently said that dog pounding was not the best solution to the stray dog population. What was needed, experts said, was to catch, sterilise and release the dogs back into their respective areas. The sick and the old would be kept in the Serbithang dog shelter.

The Humane Society International (HSI) – an international non-profit organisation for the welfare of animals - which has been carrying out the ‘pilot dog sterilisation programme’ in Thimphu for the last three months, has sterilized, vaccinated and released about 1300 stray dogs in Thimphu alone. They have extended their stay in the country by about two months and may go to other parts of the country to replicate their strategies.

Volunteers from Jangsa feel that veterinarians from across Bhutan should work together and neuter their stray dogs, rather than wait for the HIS team to carry out the neutering process in their region.

Meanwhile, the Serbithang dog shelter is said to be better equipped, with ample space for dogs to move about and sufficient amount of sunlight, as opposed to the Memelakha dog pound, which was on a steep slope and without enough sunlight, according to Jangsa volunteer Tshering Dema.

“The design for building the Serbithang shelter into a permanent structure, funded largely by the Brigitte Bardot foundation (for the welfare and protection of animals), has already been made and its construction is underway,” she added.

Thimphu city corporation has not decided on the use of the now empty Memelakha landfill. However, during a consultative meeting between the department of livestock and HSI, it was suggested that it could be used as animal shelters for animals that are severely injured and need medical care.

By Kunzang Choki


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