The Dumped Dogs of Cha-Am
“I Love Dogs’; it’s just humans that annoy me!” That’s the sentiment that Khun Oranuch displays on her T-Shirt with good reason. She doesn’t blame stray dogs for their predicament; it’s man-made with the dumped stray dogs of Cha-Am as a tragic example.
Just as in many other Thailand locations, Cha-Am has long had a stray dog problem. In February 2014 members of the ex-pat community, primarily Norwegians, arranged a meeting with the Municipality to voice their concerns. Apart from the welfare of diseased and maimed dogs, many injuries had been experienced either from road accidents or from walkers being attacked and bitten. Soon after the meeting a decline in the stray dog population was noted.
Apparently many stray dogs had been rounded-up and removed however that was only a temporary reprieve. The numbers soon returned to previous levels and the subject of stray dogs problems returned as a subject of earnest conversation in the community but without a lasting solution in sight.
The Stray Dogs Cha-Am team ready for their monthly ‘CNVR’ Around that time a new organisation was formed with little fanfare. ‘Stray Dogs ChaAm’ was that organisation with Khun Oranuch Ceeview (or should that be ‘Seaview’) and a band of volunteers commencing a ‘catch- neuter- vaccinate – release’ program which remains active but below the ‘public radar’ to date. We met Khun Oranuch at her Cha-Am home which has itself become a dog refuge with around 30 dogs being cared for.
She then took us on an eye-opening tour of the rubbish dump in Hup Kapong and surrounds around 10 kilometres from the Cha-Am town. To our horror and dismay what we discovered was many hundreds of stray dogs roaming and scavenging amongst the stinking piles of rubbish as well as throughout the adjoining eucalyptus plantation. Certainly not a place on any tourist map; out of sight and out of mind.
The dramatic increase in the numbers of dogs at the rubbish site coincided with the Cha-Am clearance campaign some two years earlier. There was evidence of some food being provided to at least give these unfortunate animals some chance of survival, if not good health. Local well-wishers, including those from other provinces regularly visit with food supplies. The only visible signs of water were a few small polluted ponds rather than any supply of fresh water.
Evidence of abandonment and neglect at the Cha-Am rubbish site
Stray Dogs Cha-Am has been following a Catch – Neuter – Vaccinate and Release (CNVR) approach. This involves the capture, neutering, identification and vaccination of stray dogs and eventual release to the same site. The rationale is to replace an uncontrolled, potentially dangerous population with a smaller, non-breeding and vaccinated one.
The World Health Organisation Expert Consultation on Rabies in Geneva states: “There is no evidence that removal of dogs alone has ever had a significant impact on dog population densities or the spread of rabies. In addition, dog removal may be unacceptable to local communities. However, the targeted and humane removal of unvaccinated, ownerless dogs may be effective when used as a supplementary measure to mass vaccination.“ For two years every month Stray Dogs Cha-Am has undertaken the collection of around 40-50 stray dogs, which are then neutered (male and female), vaccinated and released. Dogs are captured from around the Cha-Am beach and town area apart from the rubbish site with the group responding to concerns when a particular area has become over-populated.
In central Cha-Am there is a small ‘animal hospital’ which cooperates by providing lower cost veterinary services, including sterilisations, vaccination and housing dogs which require longer term treatment. Despite the goodwill and assistance of the veterinarians involved, sterilisation still costs almost 1,000 THB so that funding is a constant struggle. Khun Oranuch says that Stray Dogs Cha-Am receives no official funding and is dependent on the good will of community members to continue.
This really is a ‘bad news/good news’ story. The bad news is that Cha-Am’s stray dog problem stems from neglect and the lack of any official action to address the problem. Dumping of unwanted or homeless dogs is not acceptable by either individuals or by official agencies. The good news is that a dedicated team of volunteers is making an impact and deserves the recognition and support of the community. We suggest that those who are concerned about the issue of stray dogs in Cha-Am visit the Facebook page where the story is told with graphic photos that we have not published. You may then want to consider helping by following the instructions provided or by contacting Khun Oranuch. Phone: 0961 293 424, Facebook: www.facebook.com/straydogschaamenglish
-- Hua Hin Today 2017-4-3
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