Hounded dogs

Dog house

About two weeks ago, after returning from Gakiling, I visited the dog pound in Haa. The pound, located several kilometers above Jengkana and right beside the dzonghag’s landfill, is in fact a sprawling facility of cement, corrugated iron and wire mesh spread over an acre among blue pine forests. I was immediately impressed.

Namgay, the caretaker, proudly took me on a tour of the facility which includes separate pounds – each neatly divided by wire mesh – for new arrivals, puppies, recreation, weak dogs, dogs undergoing medical treatment, and “dada” dogs. He explained that the resident dogs are fed twice a day, and that a network of concrete channels drains their faeces to a nearby septic tank. I was truly impressed.

There was one problem though: the boarding facility had only nine residents! Namgay clarified that when the pound first opened, about three years ago, they had about 200 inmates. Many of them escaped, by digging under the fence or simply climbing over it, to the unfurnished but much more promising landfill, located immediately adjacent to the pound.

But they mainly died, in the pound itself, from hunger, sickness and cannibalism. Most recently, on New Year’s Day, 30 of the animals lost their lives due to the extreme cold. It had snowed that morning.

So Bhutan Observer’s report, that the Government is rethinking its approach to control the stray dog population in our country, comes as very good news.

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