Wai! Bhutan may be one of the few countries in the world where dogs make the headlines more than some groups of humans. And for the right reasons. Stray dogs have been a nuisance in Bhutan for decades now. And it has never gone unnoticed by the government.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, we even resorted to culling stray dogs, which was unpopular. At another time, stray dogs were transported to far-flung mountains from where they were not expected to come back. But the dogs found their way back to the settlements in days. Sterilization was found to be the right answer, but even this proved ineffective. Then they were rounded up and impounded. That too failed to keep the dogs and humans equally happy.
A pack of dogs running amok in Haa recently has triggered fresh discussions on the issue. Dogs – stray as well as pet – have always been a nuisance in the Bhutanese towns and villages although this has been forgotten until the Haa incident reminded us of it. Dogs are particularly troublesome in bigger towns where there is an increasing number of people being bitten. In Thimphu, for example, streets and alleys belong to the dogs at odd hours.
People can’t go jogging without the fear of being attacked by a pack of dogs. And those who venture out at odd hours get bitten. Dog bites, as we know, are dangerous for many reasons. Besides, people should have the security of walking around in their neighbourhoods.
It’s high time that we reclaimed people’s security from the dogs. It’s abundantly clear that coexistence is not without troubles. Whom do our settlements belong – humans or dogs?