While Thailand may be best known for its beautiful temples, beaches, and delicious cuisine, it hides a dark secret. Throughout the country, millions of stray dogs and cats overwhelm the streets, beaches, and temples. The massive number of stray animals is due to several reasons. For one, according to Buddhist culture, people can make merit by feeding stray animals. This act of kindness helps dogs and cats survive, but it also means that they reproduce much more successfully. This, coupled with very limited low-cost spay/neuter opportunities in most communities means that millions of dogs are born onto the street each year. In busy cities like Metropolitan Bangkok, stray dogs are often victims of road traffic accidents and injuries. In a misguided attempt to manage the stray population, many shelters throughout Thailand attempt to house hundreds to thousands of dogs, which does nothing to actually improve animal welfare.
Stray animals in Thailand also commonly suffer from infectious disease, largely from a lack of medical care. Thai temples are common places of animal suffering due to the misconception that monks will feed unwanted animals. The practice of dumping unwanted strays and pets at temples is common, and unfortunately many abandoned animals are subject to malnutrition, fighting, and death.
While many animal welfare charities have popped up on the islands and major cities of Thailand to address the suffering of stray animals, many areas remain neglected. One such area is on the Malay peninsula in the province of Prachuap Khiri Khan. This large province is home to a diverse landscape including long white sandy beaches and a mountainous interior, stretching from the Gulf of Thailand to the border of Burma. This area is home to tens of thousands of stray dogs and cats who suffer from:
* Drowning during monsoon season
* Road traffic accidents
* Starvation and malnutrition
* Dumping at temples
* Limited spay/neuter services
In November, FOUR PAWS teamed up with local charity Headrock Dogs Rescue to help address the suffering of stray animals. The program involves an outreach team to work with the local community to improve animal welfare in a sustainable way through education and engagement. In and around the city of Bang Saphan, the outreach team responds to animal emergencies, provides desperately needed medical care, and helps increase pet adoption. The program also focuses on temples, to help improve the living conditions for the hundreds of dogs and cats that call them home. Temple dogs and cats are enrolled in a feeding, vaccination, and sterilization program, all at no cost to the temple. The outreach team also works closely with temple monks and nuns to empower them to provide better animal care.
Outside of the temples, the program sponsors sterilization, treatment, vaccination services for pet owners who might not otherwise be able to afford medical care for their animals. For stray animals that are deemed too sick or debilitated to be returned to their home communities or temples, our partner, Headrock Dogs Rescue will provide them with ongoing shelter and care until they can hopefully be adopted into a forever home.