It must have been confusing for dogs like Rochi when the normally teeming streets of Thimphu emptied to nothing almost overnight. Following business closures, school cancellations, and social distancing orders across the country, the delicious smells from local restaurants, hotels, and even pocket scraps from passers-by dwindled, and bellies like hers went hungry. Despite the new worries of locals, however, animal welfare groups like the Royal Society for the Protection and Care of Animals (RSPCA) and Jangsa Animal Saving Trust (JAST) were still attentive to the needs of the city’s famous four-legged citizens. These groups worked hard in the year’s early months to secure food, but without regular donations from hotels and restaurants, local shelters, which depend heavily on volunteers and food donations to survive, were being squeezed for resources.
In response to the needs of hundreds of animals like Rochi, the Bhutan Foundation joined GivingTuesday’s global day of giving, a unique worldwide response to the global health crisis, to help raise funds for RSPCA and JAST. With the help of our donors, the Bhutan Foundation team was able to help feed their collective 188+ rescues (including 168 dogs, several dozen cats, pigs, recently rescued calves, and a donkey) two meals a day at both locations during the worst of Bhutan’s local shutdowns. Besides the support we provided to local shelters, individuals within Bhutan also collaborated to support the feeding of all the stray dogs throughout Bhutan. With the guidance of His Majesty the King, volunteers, as well as the Royal Bhutan Army, helped cook and deliver food to stray dogs throughout Bhutan in solidarity during this difficult time.