The Thai province of Prachuap Khiri Khan is in the northern part of the Malay Peninsula, some 240 km south of Bangkok. A sleepy seaside area, it’s on the coast at one of the narrowest stretches in Thailand and is geographically bound by the ocean on the East and Burma in the West. Despite its natural beauty, the area is home to hundreds of free-roaming dogs that suffer from malnutrition, parasitism, and abandonment. As the nearest veterinary clinic is more than 2 hours away and given that most locals only have motorbikes as a means for their personal transportation, getting dogs there for veterinary care is rarely done due to the logistical challenges. To make the situation more challenging for the locals and dogs, the area is prone to flooding during the monsoon season.
Our stray animal care programme, Saving Thailand’s Forgotten Dogs operates in the area of Bang Saphan to help rescue dogs in need, and provide spay and neuter services. While the programme does its best to reach as many animals as possible, given the vast area, large numbers of dogs, and limited veterinary capacity, FOUR PAWS was determined to host a large-scale surgical clinic in 2020, despite the challenges posed by COVID-19. We wanted to focus on reaching and sterilising difficult to catch dogs, largely females, to reduce the endless births of puppies!
Given the rugged nature of the area, many stray dogs give birth inside rubber tree plantations or in the thick brush of the jungle. These dogs are incredibly difficult to catch as they rarely have contact with humans. The area is also home to a busy deep seaport in the area which is home to dozens of malnourished and difficult to catch dogs live. The port is a place of significant animal suffering as there are few food sources, little shade or shelter for the dogs, rampant transmissible venereal tumour infections, and migrant Cambodian workers who will opportunistically snatch and kill dogs for food. Puppies at the port are born into a life of suffering.
In order to reach these dogs for surgery, four catching teams set our across the region, each with their own vehicle to collect dogs in need. With help from a specialised dog catching team from Lanta Animal Welfare and our local outreach team at Headrock Dogs Rescue, we were able to identify the dogs in most need and safely catch and transport them to our mobile clinics. Covered in sweat from the sheer heat and chasing dogs, the catchers arrived every hour at the clinic with a look of excitement…and exhaustion… as they unloaded dogs in need of medical attention and sterilisation.
Over the course of 5 days, we hosted two clinic sites that provided spay/neuter services: at the Community Hall Baan Mar Rong and Baan Ton Thong Lang. The local government was very generous in allowing us to use and transform two otherwise ordinary community buildings into effective mobile surgical clinics.
The local government (Or Bor Tor) in Bang Saphan also greatly supported our efforts in other ways. The Or Bor Tor provided two vehicles and staff which went out to help collect dogs each morning for sterilisation. They also provided local advertising for the clinic, and delicious vegan lunches for the team. It was also with their assistance that we were able to arrange educational sessions for children at local schools.
The team worked hard despite the heat and humidity to sterilise and vaccinate a total of 205 dogs, 200 of which were female! These surgeries will prevent literally thousands of dogs being born into a life of suffering. The surgeries themselves were more difficult than usual, due to the fact that owners often resort to using human birth control injections to keep their dogs from giving birth. The effect of this is life-threatening uterine infections in dogs. There were at least 25 dogs seen by the team with severe uterine infections and dead fetuses that would have died had they have not been sterilised by the veterinary team this week. Despite leaving physically exhausted, we are emotionally recharged knowing that we helped so many animals lead healthier and happier lives.
To sustainably impact animal welfare, we must change human behavior and attitudes towards dogs
Our team worked closely with local community to empower and educated them to care for dogs. Our team conducted several successful educational sessions at the local schools, who were greeted by both teachers and more than 70 students, excited to learn more about caring for dogs and cats. Our educational topics included bite prevention, how to care for dogs, why animals shouldn’t be dumped at Buddhist temples, and rabies - a deadly disease.
You can find our more about how we supporting communities in shaping a better future for animals here.