Bangkok, 12 January 2024 – Over 100 cats – strays and pets alike – received health checks and vaccinations during a free event held at Wat That Thong Temple in the city of Bangkok. The mobile clinic was set up by global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS, together with partner organisations Bangkok Cat Society and Lanta Animal Welfare. For many local communities the access to vaccination and sterilisation services is not available or affordable, with many unowned felines roaming freely in the temple grounds. A regulated cat population is crucial for a healthy society, reducing the amount of stray or unwanted animals, and to prevent the spread of diseases such as rabies.
During a two-day-event in December last year, Wat That Thong temple in East Bangkok set the stage for a comprehensive health check and sterilisation service. A comprehensive population survey conducted during the event revealed valuable insights: The number of cats were recorded across three days of surveys, averaging 85 cats found in morning time and 63 cats in the evening. Almost 80% have not been sterilised. After surgery all cats are ear marked so that they can easily be identified in future.
“Our experienced team treated an impressive number of 106 cats during this two-day event in the beautiful Wat Tha Thong temple. Together with our partners, we managed to sterilise and vaccinate the animals, enhancing their health status and well-being while stabilising the resident cat population. We are glad we could support the local community and resident monks to prevent the population of unwanted animals from growing further and to minimise potential disease outbreaks. While we are trying to improve the situation for as many felines as possible, only a sustainable and humane long-term cat population management programme will produce lasting results. That includes CNVR (Catch-Neuter-Vaccinate-Return) for stray animals, providing education on responsible pet ownership, free or low-cost sterilisation for owned pets and developing trust within the local community.”
Matt Backhouse, Head of Stray Animal Care in Southeast Asia at FOUR PAWS
The situation for many local communities in Thailand in accessing free sterilisation services can be very difficult. Even where free services exist, cat owners are often restricted to vet appointments on specific days, which can be an obstacle for many. This is one of the reasons why the cat population is rising dramatically - local community members expressed how they couldn’t afford private care and had no alternatives available to sterilise or vaccinate their animals. By working to understand the needs of communities we are able to design tailored, specific interventions to meet their needs and ensure that the people and animals receive the care and support they need.
Situation of stray dogs and cats in Thailand
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 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.
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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organisation for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organisation advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy and understanding. The sustainable campaigns and projects of FOUR PAWS focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions. www.four-paws.org