This is a very sad story but one with hope and tenderness from the guys who rescued a dying dog. Once again, I am impressed by these guys and ladies. This Thai soi dog (street dog) was lucky. She was on the edge of death, emaciated, dehydrated, unable to move as she was so weak and undernourished. She appears to have ended up in a river or a canal and hauled herself out of the water onto a platform where she lay, dying. She was seen from above and a local rescue organisation, Paws 4 Hope, became involved. They used their skills to bring her up from the river, take her to their rescue centre, feed her some nourishing fluids and then take her to a veterinarian and thence to a rescue centre where she was able to fully recover. That is my understanding of the story. Just another dog. Just one of up to one million soi dogs roaming the streets of Thailand.
In Thailand, soi dogs are street dogs. They don’t have anybody to look after them. They are homeless, ownerless and often in a hopeless situation barely clinging on to life as this video shows us. Soi dogs are sometimes rounded up and sold as meet in Vietnam and China. It is believed that there are 8.5 million dogs in total in Thailand. Almost three-quarters of a million are abandoned by their owners. In the capital, Bangkok, there are up to 300,000 soi dogs.
Experience of soi dogs
I have a friend whose wife is Thai and therefore he has lived in Thailand for short periods over many years. He knows the country well. He sometimes goes for a bike ride or used to from his home in the country. On these rides he is hounded by dogs which is uncomfortable for him. The story is indicative of a street dog problem in Thailand and a similar one in many other countries. Once again I’m confronted with the realisation that in many countries there seems to be a lax approach to sterilising domestic animals to prevent the creation of unwanted animals which leads to an excess of unwanted dogs which in turn become street dogs because they are abandoned and then we end up with this situation that we see in the video with dogs dying on the street.
It is probably not my place to be too critical but it seems to me that it would not take an awful lot of common sense or commitment from governments to put in place effective laws and effective enforcement of those laws to improve the welfare of dogs in these countries. Thailand has apparently done this but I am unsure how effectively it has been instigated.
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration began, in September 2005, a program for the mandatory registration of dogs. The objective: to stop dog abandonment. The dogs’ owners could be traced. Microchips became obligatory and there are rabies vaccinations and sterilisations. On 4 July 2008 the owners of unregistered dogs were subject to a fine of up to 5000 baht. Some people think that this increased the number of street dogs because those who objected to it abandoned their dogs! They didn’t want to risk getting a fine. Street dogs are a nuisance to organisers of major events as our street cats. They are often rounded up and killed in order to clean up the streets. This happens in many places. In Thailand it appears that the dogs were taken from the streets but not killed. The Wikipedia author tells me that they were transported from Bangkok to kennels elsewhere where they stayed until their death. I don’t know whether this actually happened, however. I believe it is far more likely that they were killed. No doubt the organisers would say that there were euthanised but that would be a euphemism.
The majority of pet owners in Thailand believe in registration of their animals. They object to the registration fee of 450 baht. The majority of Thai people are Buddhists. Consequently there are many temples in Thailand. I am told that there are perhaps up to 5000 temples in and around Bangkok, the capital. These temples are compounds where there are sometimes schools and perhaps surprisingly cat and dog rescue facilities of sorts. It appears that quite a lot of unwanted dogs live at these temples. Some must be adopted. Buddhism should make people kind to animals because they believe in reincarnation. So, for example, if you are unkind to a pigeon you might return as a pigeon. If you are unkind to a soi dog you might return as a soi dog and suffer. My friend’s wife believes that if you catch a fish with a hook then you may return as a human but with a harelip. These beliefs should encourage people to treat companion animals well. It appears that the Buddhist monks’ actions bear out their beliefs.