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July 2, 2009

New Spay/Neuter Program Launches in Bhutan with Help from HSI

Humane Society International

After two years of ongoing discussion, Humane Society International is pleased to announce the beginning of a nationwide spay/neuter program in the country of Bhutan. The humane, science-based street dog management and rabies control program is a partnership between the government of Bhutan, HSI and the Bhutan Foundation. The three- to five-year program will start by September and is expected to help spay/neuter and vaccinate close to 50,000 dogs across the country.

Rahul Sehgal, HSI India director, said, "I am so glad that the top officials of Bhutan have taken the time to discuss this issue at length and decide on a long-term, effective solution with the welfare of street dogs at its core."

Overpopulation of free-roaming dogs has been a major problem in Bhutan. For this Buddhist nation, controlling their numbers using fatal methods was never an option. On their lists of items to pack, tourism agencies often include "ear plugs" in bold, capital letters to help visitors manage to sleep through the sounds of dogs barking and howling all night long in the city streets.

Before the new program was approved, HSI carried out a four-month-long pilot program in the capital city of Thimphu, and collected and presented data to help convince authorities that spay/neuter, along with education/awareness, strict licensing laws and responsible pet ownership were the only ways to effectively manage the homeless dog population.

Fourteen staff from the HSI India office put together a successful project, carrying out a population census twice to collect comparative data of pre-and post-pilot scenarios. In total, 2,866 dogs were sterilized and vaccinated over the four-month period. About 15 percent of the dogs were pets.

 Facts:

  • The program will cost $1 million. The Royal Government of Bhutan will cover half the cost.
  • HSI is hoping to raise the remainder from our supporters and create a workable model for others to follow. Ideally, this spay/neuter/vaccinate/return project will not only reduce the suffering of Bhutan's street dogs, but help improve the lives of street dogs in developing countries worldwide.

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Humane Society International and its affiliate organizations together constitute one of the world's largest animal protection organizations — backed by 11 million people. HSI is creating a better future for animals and people through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide — On the web at hsi.org.

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