The Real Story of Zeus and a Dead Puppy

A dog food feeding organization named “Zeus for stray and homeless dog food” has named and accused me openly of being responsible for the death of a puppy at Sangaygang. Zeus says my Facebook post on 5 July 2022 about a group of aggressive dogs in Sangaygang attacking me has lead to the dog relocation efforts by the Department of Livestock (DoL).

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Dr Kinley says he never met Zeus to show ‘the article from Facebook’

They have quoted a Dr Kinley Dorji who is the Veterinary Superintendent of the National Veterinary Hospital (and not the ‘Chief Veterinary officer of livestock’ as quoted by Zeus in its post).

Zeus post states that Dr Kinley “showed them the article from Facebook’ and told them that they were sterilizing the puppies’ mother on my request.

However, today morning, I called Dr Kinley and asked him if he ‘showed them my Facebook post,’ and gave my post as the reason for the dogs’ relocation.

Dr Kinley said he never met the Zeus team members in the last few days to be able to ‘show them my Facebook post’.

The puppy was not relocated or touched says Dr Kinley Dorji

He also said that Zeus Facebook post of the puppies being moved or relocated from the current location is wrong, as the Department of Livestock (DoL) never relocated or even touched the puppies off late.

Dr Kinley, in fact, said he is quite confused how the puppy went so far away from its territory to another territory which the puppy dogs do not do.

No dogs have been caught in last few days

Dr Kinley also clarified that DoL has not caught any of dogs in the last few days after my post as the dogs have not come out of the forested area in Sangaygang. 

Dr Kinley said that for a long time and much before my Facebook post, DoL has been trying to catch a red female dog and black male dog which are not neutered, and DoL has been unsuccessful in catching the pair of dogs so far.

Dr Kinley Dorji says he gave Zeus real facts but Zeus was selective in publishing them to target the writer

In fact, Dr Kinley said he got call from a female Zeus member/volunteer named Pindarika Dorji day before yesterday over my post, and Dr Kinley said he clearly explained to her that it is not due to my post, but much before my post that DoL was trying to catch the two unsterilized dogs in Sangaygang, and also due to complaints from some people who complained of the aggressive behavior by dogs.

Dr Kinley Dorji had in fact clarified to Zeus that prior to my Facebook post, there were many calls and complaints from people attacked on the Sangaygang road.

Dr Kinley said he also informed Zeus that on 14 June 2022 (23 days before my post) the Minister for Agriculture and Forests (MoAF) Yeshey Penjore had sent a photo of the two dogs mating and reports of the dogs being aggressive. Lyonpo gave instructions to catch the dogs and sterilize them as part of ongoing national dog sterilization program.

Dr Kinley said they have been trying since then to catch the two dogs as three weeks have already passed and in another few weeks’ time, new puppies could be delivered (dogs have a 63-day gestation period normally).

Dr Kinley said the puppy which died belongs to another female dog in the area who is also not notched and who DoL has also been unable to catch.

Dr Kinley in fact accused Zeus of ‘blindly’ writing the post on the social media.

Many earlier complaints on the dogs being aggressive, old orders to catch them and NADPM & RCP

Dr Kinley also said that long before my Facebook post, he had already got several calls on the dogs being aggressive with people.

He said that in one instance, a youth who goes on regular walks and knew him approached him to let him know that the dogs had surrounded him to attack him, but he could luckily save himself by using his umbrella.

Dr Kinley said that two Royal Body Guard officials who also go on walks there said that the dogs try to attack them on occasions. This is apart from the calls, and all the complaints were noted by DoL way before my Facebook post.

Dr Karma Wangdi, Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer, also confirmed that Lyonpo had sent a picture of the two dogs mating on 14 June 2022, and also informed them of complaints from the public of the dogs being aggressive. Lyonpo had instructed for the dogs to be caught so that they can be sterilized. This is 23 days before my Facebook post.

Dr Karma said anyhow the country is pursuing 100 percent stray dog sterilization of un-notched dogs.

Dr Kinley said that he is also the team leader of the ongoing National Accelerated Dog Population Management and Rabies Control Program (NADPM & RCP), and what is happening in Sangaygang is part of this national campaign.

He said Thimphu has finished the campaign and mopping, and are now combing, which is basically going after even a single un-notched dog.

Zeus aware of the facts but hid them

Zeus itself has said that it has been doing research on the dogs for the last eight months.

So, it is eminently clear from above that Zeus, as informed by Dr Kinley Dorji, knew of DoL’s efforts to catch the un-notched or unsterilized dogs was a long standing one before my Facebook post, and there had been directions from Lyonpo and complaints by others much before. There is also the NADPM & RAC going on.

Why Zeus targeted me only

Now, it raises the question on why did Zeus decide to single me out falsely, and intentionally defame me in their onslaught of Facebook posts to rile up public sentiments. 

The answer is quite simply because Lyonpo, Dr Kinley, the Department of Livestock and others have not put up a post like mine saying Zeus was feeding the dogs and tagging Zeus to the post.

My post only highlighted my personal experience of nearly being bitten six times by the aggressive dogs despite my attempts to befriend them and feed them with meat and biscuits. I suggested that they be humanely relocated. I had just mentioned as a fact that the dogs in Sangaygang are being fed by Zeus and tagged them in the post.

I tagged them after the Ministry of Agriculture, Department Livestock and Thimphu Thromde with the hope that they would come up with a solution.

My paper had in fact featured Zeus in a very positive light in February 2021 during the lockdown for feeding dogs.

Apparently this mere non-critical mention of Zeus in a neutral Facebook post made Zeus see red.

It does not require months of research to find that feeding the semi feral and feral dogs on the open busy road is a recipe for dog attacks as people have to cross the road and end up unwittingly coming in between the dogs and their food.

Repeated calls and some threats from Zeus

On the evening of 7 July 2022 at 8.14 pm, first, the founder of Zeus, Thinley Norbu, called me and in a 14- minute conversation told me that Zeus had not relocated the dogs there but they were feeding them since the last 7 or 8 months.

I expressed my concerns to him, and the discussion was civil, but Thinley was not happy that Zeus was mentioned on the Facebook post.

In a coordinated move, an hour later, the Zeus Manager called ‘MC’ (Mahindra) called me at 9.28 pm in a 22-minute hostile and rude conversation where he questioned my Facebook post and said that ‘I was defaming their project on Facebook without asking them’.

MC earlier in the evening had put up a rude reply on my Facebook post which I had to delete as is my policy.

He said he is ready to ‘give his head for animals,’ and also went on to say that he is also ‘metal’ like me and he ‘will not back down’ and so we will ‘collide’ and sparks will fly. 

I pointed to him the post was not about Zeus but about worrisome aggressive dogs.

A family member of mine, who overheard the phone conversation, wanted me to call the police, but I instead called the Zeus founder Thinley at 10.14 pm, and in a 6-minute conversation, I had politely told him of the hostile and rude call from MC, and said I am only dropping the matter here as he, as the founder has been civil, and so the matter can be resolved. I also informed him if any more of such hostile calls are made or such language is used then there will be an official response.

The matter was not over as the next day on 8 June Friday, another Zeus member called Vinay called at 12.37 pm in the afternoon, when I am at my busiest due to my paper coming out the next day on Saturday.

Despite telling him I had already talked to the Zeus founder and the matter is resolved as far as the dog feeding is concerned, and that Friday is a very busy day, he said that a Zeus committee had a meeting, and he was calling on their behalf, with the committee making noise behind him while he was on the phone, which took up 29 minutes of time that I did not have on my crunch day.

What really hurt Zeus

After a long repetition of points by Vinay and to get to the heart of the matter, I asked Vinay what Zeus really wants with all these calls?

Vinay said, “We don’t want any negativity towards our organization, which is why I am calling. See sir, when you put such a post and mention our name, it has already created negative impressions on us.”

Vinay and his two colleagues did make token points about the welfare of dogs there, but what really seems to have hurt them is my factual mentioning of Zeus feeding the aggressive dogs at Sangaygang and tagging Zeus in the post.

He also said posts like mine will lead to DoL coming and darting the dogs and putting the dogs in nets showing the apparent brutality of DoL’s methods.

Strangely enough in the Zeus Facebook post, they gave the same DoL a clean chit saying, “We can’t blame them since its their duty,” which shifts all the blame to me.

I told him if they have issues about DoL not being humane with the dogs then they can approach the media and others.

I said a factual personal experience on my personal Facebook is my right of Freedom of Expression to share as it happened to me and a fellow jogger that particular morning.

I also told Vinay this is the last call I am taking and will not entertain any more calls. He shot back saying they will ‘call again’ if I mention Zeus again.

Zeus founder, Thinley, messaged me right after saying he wants to call again but I message him back saying his colleagues have been harassing me enough since late last night over a factual post and this is now full fledged harassment and intimidation.

Disinformation campaign starts

Their disinformation campaign started from 8 July Friday evening at 9.07 pm when they wrote in a post on their wall not naming me, but clearly alluding to me with enough clues that an “individual with his power and reach is trying to defame our organization for his own selfish reason of not getting to go on runs and cycle on a particular area of BBS tower.”

The post falsely says that I want the dogs ‘Euthanized like the dogs from the recent incident of Genekha,’ when my original post only said to ‘humanely relocate them to a safer area’ before any real tragedy occurs.

The post accused me of making ‘posts on social media complaining about the faults of people trying to make a difference,’ when I had already clarified the post did not criticize Zeus. 

It again asked if ‘feeding these hungry dogs is not right?’ when I had clarified several times to Zeus on not having any objections to them feeding the Sangaygang dogs.

Zeus asked its members to share this post ‘as much as possible,’ and its members did share it making it go viral.

I let the post be as it did not explicitly name me though it gave plenty of clues

They were not done, as on 10 July Sunday night at 9.46 pm they shared a picture of a dead puppy from the dog pack, and blaming me by blatantly, misrepresenting what Dr Kinley Dorji really told them above and concocting their own facts.

The post full of factual inaccuracies, deliberate half truths and liberal lies went viral again on the strength of the picture of a dead puppy and the emotional story around it making me the villain.

Zeus was still not done as this time its founder Thinley Norbu came live on their Facebook page at 4.32 pm on 11 July Monday to bury the puppy (24 hours after they found the body) and again blamed me falsely by name for the death of despite being fully aware of the facts. He said that ‘Karma would get me’.

If Zeus really was sincere in its concern over the puppy and dogs, it is interesting they have nothing to say about the Department of Livestock who allegedly botched up a capture attempt of the mother leading to the alleged death of the puppy, which Department of Livestock denies and instead accuses Zeus of lying.

Zeus has nothing to say to the MoAF Minister who ordered the capture of dogs in Sangaygang from 14 June onwards, almost a month before my Facebook post, and also nothing to say about the larger NADPM & RCP national program under which all stray or feral dogs, including the Sangaygang ones, are being captured and sterilized.

If Zeus were to paint the Ministry and DOL as the ones responsible, then they would be taking on the regulators and rule enforcers in their field.

I am a much better and easier target as they can first get revenge for what they perceive to be a scratch on their ‘holier than thou’ or ‘savior’ image through my well intentioned post, followed by free publicity which will only help their active fund raising efforts even if the whole story is a big lie that defames me and plays with people’s emotions.

My Stand

To be clear, as I do in my line of work or even on my social media posts, I always speak up for public and the larger interest.

Our Bhutanese habit is to only take action after a disaster, death or injury occurs, and sometimes not even then.

Data from the Emergency Department, JDWNRH shows that dog bites are on the rise with around 100 bites a month coming in just from Thimphu. Just from 1 July to 7 July 2022 there were 20 dog bite cases in the emergency.

Bhutan saw 6,873 dog bite cases in 2021 which is an increase from 2020 with 6,430 cases.

What is really wrong in pointing out that a pack of aggressive dogs (that was mysteriously planted there by somebody in the last 8 months with a ready house) tried to bite me six times and others too? And my concerns that the aggressive and menacing dogs should be humanely relocated before something goes wrong like in the Genekha incident where a seven-year-old was bitten to death by a pack of dogs in May 2022.

Humane relocation of dogs is a much better option than dogs being euthanized in the cases where aggressive dogs bite and maim people. 

There is also the issue of the impact of feral dogs on local wildlife and livestock.

My approach is to point out these issues before they can happen so that both humans and dogs can be safe and co-exist by avoiding human-dog conflict.

Dogs and me

When it comes to dog welfare, I did a front age story in my Kuensel days in 2008 where I highlighted the animal abuses in the Memelakha dog pound where hundreds of dogs were dying. The story and my picture of a stray dog eating a new born pup helped lead to its closure.

Over the years, I have asked my reporters to do numerous stories linked to dog and animal welfare.

This is where we did a positive coverage of Zeus in February last year when they fed dogs during the pandemic lockdown.

It is another story that they seem to go wild in the face of even the gentlest Facebook post.

On a personal note, my wife started the Bhutan Pets Lost and Found Facebook page in 2016 that has actively relocated scores of lost pets over the years. Something me and my wife are both passionate about whenever we can reunite a lost pets with its owners. We also share information on the plight of animals and advice on responsible pet ownership.

We do this for free and in our own time, and do not have to raise vast sums of money, seek constant publicity for it to vindicate ourselves or attack others to shine brighter.

A few years ago, I rescued a litter of puppies in front of my office whose mother had died and handed them over to an animal CSO.

Whenever, stray dogs and cats in the vicinity of where I stay get injured or run over, my wife and I are the first to take them to the vet and see through the recovery.

Final Thoughts

The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said that ‘Convictions are more dangerous foes of truth than lies’.

Zeus for some reason seems to believe that only they know best when it comes to dogs and anybody who has a different view to help dogs are against them, and must be treated as the enemy.

While I respected their work during the lockdown, however, their inability to take differing opinions on dog welfare is disheartening.

Zeus may enjoy its current moment in the polarizing social media sun, and bask in the glow of self-righteousness from a story built on lies, but its style only does animal rights damage in the long run, as it is crystal clear that it is more about the image and ego of Zeus and the humans who run it, than the animals they claim to protect or speak for.

I normally don’t react to posts on social media about me, but here I have no option as an ongoing national program to sterilize dogs that allegedly went wrong in Sangaygang is being maliciously blamed on me. My family is deeply religious and genuinely cares for all sentient beings and such false allegations do not sit well with them.

My much misrepresented but hardly read Facebook post that started it all for Zeus is here. Do read it and draw your own judgments.

Tenzing Lamsang

Editor, The Bhutanese

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