We had a meeting earlier this month with the Governor and the new acting head of Livestock (Manat Thepparat, Acting Chief of the Phuket Provincial office of the Department of Livestock Development – DLD), who impresses me a lot.
This was before the rabies case, or the attack in Phang Nga province, and the governor requested us and DLD to work together regarding stray dogs on the island and come back with a proposal, taking into account no budget to speak of to care for the pound.
Rounding up stray dogs randomly and dumping in the pound which has been the case up to now achieves nothing unfortunately. The previous Governor requested only dangerous dogs be put there but that is not what has happened.
Statistically the majority of dog bites in Thailand occur with owned dogs guarding their property and not being properly secured. Stray dogs are an easy target but genuine stray dogs are normally fearful of people and unless cornered will run away.
The incident in Phang Nga was terrible but also thankfully unusual. We have been advised that the lead dog was an owned dogs probably trained to be aggressive as is a Bang Keow, which are often used as guard dogs.
After complaints about the dog biting people because he did not keep it restrained, the owner did what so many people do and dumped the dog, which in itself is not only disgraceful but illegal. Attacks on people were reported but the authorities did nothing, until this recent tragedy.
We had a similar situation in Phuket two years ago in the national park area of Nai Yang Beach. A group of dogs were regularly attacking people though thankfully not to the extent of the recent attack in Phang Nga, so received little publicity. Soi Dog spoke with the OrBorTor (Mai Khao Tambon Administration Organisation) and caught the lead dog which was new and was assessed by our behaviour team.
Sadly the dog was just too aggressive to work with and had to be humanely euthanised. The other dogs in the pack returned to their formerly peaceful existence.
In my personal opinion a genuinely dangerous dog that is attacking people should be removed and if clearly dangerous like the one at Nai Yang be humanely euthanised. The mass hysteria with people calling for all dogs to be killed or impounded shows a total lack of understanding of Thai culture or the financial situation.
Soi Dog Foundation’s mission is no more stray dogs, and to achieve that in a country like Thailand requires large scale sterilisation, same as eliminating rabies requires large scale vaccination.
Soi Dog cannot do all of Thailand on its own and it requires investment by the Government. Soi Dog currently sterilises more animals than any other organisation in the world (over 80,000 in 2018 alone) and is increasing its teams again this year.
On Phuket, we have called on successive Governors over the years to ban the import of hundreds of puppies that are transported to Phuket each year for sale at markets and pet stores. Many come from rabies endemic areas and are all too young to be vaccinated.
We have warned repeatedly of the dangers in relation to rabies but nobody does anything to stop it. They also add to the stray dog issue as unsold ones are discarded and many that are purchased end up being thrown out later as the one in Phang Nga was.
For more information about the Soi Dog Foundation, call the Soi Dog Foundation Helpline at 076-681029 or visit the Soi Dog Foundation Facebook page, here.