One thing that you will undoubtedly notice when traveling in Thailand is the large amount of stray dogs that are wandering the streets. The dogs are alone and unwanted, fending for themselves in the streets and struggling with road traffic, unkind humans, illnesses and lack of food. Sometimes food stall owners will leave out leftovers for them to eat, but most of the time these dogs are on their own.
The cause behind Thailand’s big stray dog issue is simple: Pet owners are failing to spay and neuter their animals. It is common for owners to abandon their dogs once they are no longer entertaining enough or become too costly to take care of. These strays end up meeting other strays and have more puppies. It is estimated that there are roughly 8.5 million dogs in Thailand, of which about 730,000 are abandoned by their owners.
Abandoned Dogs In Thailand
One of the most common places to abandon a dog in Thailand is the Buddhist temples. There is a misconception that monks will care for and attend to the stray animals, but sadly this is not usually the case.
The act of dumping unwanted pets at Thai temples is popular, and unfortunately, many abandoned animals are victims of malnutrition, disease, and death.
Things to remember when encountering stray dogs in Thailand:
Feeding Stray Dogs
If you are keen to help stray dogs by feeding them, please do so far away from hotel and restaurant resorts. Feeding dogs near hotels or restaurants can be counter-productive, as some resort managers believe they are an annoyance to their customers, leading to a potential loss of trade. This could result in extremely negative effects if annoyed hotel owners take them away from these familiar environments.
Approaching Stray Dogs:
While most of the stray dogs in Thailand are very friendly and loving, others have experienced previous hardship and neglect. As an outsider who does not know the history of the dog in question, it is always advisable to exercise caution when approaching street dogs.
Before approaching a stray dog in Thailand, make sure to observe the dog’s body behavior. If a dog shows any sign of hostility such as growling, showing teeth, barking, or a slow wagging tail, then it might be planning to attack and it’s always a better choice to walk away.
If you are witness to a dog that is in attack-mode then remember to stay calm. Dogs are sensitive animals that can read human behavior. A dog can sense when someone is scared or nervous. Simply walk away without looking into the dog’s eyes and NEVER run.
How You Can Help Stray Dogs in Thailand (and cats)
Thai Animal Shelters
Get to know the animal shelters in your area – we have listed a few below which are very deserving of any time/donations/pet supplies you can spare.
In no specific order:
- Koh Phangan: Phangan Animal Care for Strays (PACS)
- Chiang Mai: Elephant Nature Park Dog Project
- Koh Lanta: Lanta Animal Welfare
- Phuket: Soi Dog Foundation
Most Animal Shelters are provided with no government funding, meaning they operate solely on donations by compassionate animal lovers. No matter how big or small a donation, here are some shelters that ensure your donation will always be used in the most efficient ways possible to help the maximum number of animals.