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Street dogs of Bhutan subject of talk, November 10

dogs walking together across a street with small, parked cars in the background

Part of a pack of stray dogs in Bhutan. Image from One Health Network, South Asia.

Associate Professor of Sociology Marion Willetts will present “The influence of Buddhism and Gross National Happiness in promoting the well-being of Bhutan’s street dogs” for the Sociology and Anthropology Research Series from 11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Friday, November 10, in Schroeder Hall, room 104.

Hundreds of millions of dogs roam freely throughout the world, and are most visible in the urban centers of low-income countries. In attempts to mitigate the growing populations of these “street dogs,” local governments engage in “culling” programs, which include methods such as shooting, poisoning, and paying local residents to kill dogs using any means they wish.

The Kingdom of Bhutan is unique, in that it is the first country in the world to develop and implement a nationwide Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) program to reduce the population of free-roaming dogs.

Willetts will explore what makes Bhutan unique in its efforts to control its free-roaming dog population and how successful are these efforts through in-depth interviews with the founders/representatives of animal shelters/sanctuaries in Bhutan. Willetts suggests that both the practice of Buddhism in the daily lives of the Bhutanese and Bhutan’s unique development policy of gross national happiness operate to protect the welfare of Bhutan’s street dogs.

For additional information, contact the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at (309) 438-8668.