Following a 14-year-long program, Bhutan has successfully sterilized and vaccinated its entire population of stray dogs, becoming the world’s first country to achieve such a feat.
“This might seem like a small step, but it will go a long way in nation-building,” explains Bhutan Prime Minister Lotay Tshering. “It would not have been achieved without the thousands of de-suups (community volunteers). This is a historic gathering, not just for the nation but globally.”
Through its National Accelerated Dog Population Management and Rabies Control Program, Bhutan has not only sterilized and vaccinated some 150,000 stray dogs but has also microchipped 32,000 pet dogs since 2009. Asia has a population of 300 million stray dogs who struggle with starvation, parasitic infections, untreated diseases, injuries from road traffic accidents, and transmissible cancers. The United Nations, through its many organizations such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Health Organisation, and the World Organisation for Animal Health, recommends combining injectable vaccines and oral rabies vaccination (ORV) of dogs as the latter could prove to be more effective in targeted elimination efforts among regional wildlife populations. “By embracing the recommendations in this document, countries can enhance their dog rabies control programs and work towards achieving the global goal of zero dog-mediated human rabies deaths by 2030,” as stated in the ORV program.