The life of Stray Dogs and Cats in Chiang Mai

Dogs and cats in Temples: In Thai Tradition if you've got a dog or cat you don't want or a litter of young you can't find homes for you can put them in the temple for the monks and nuns to take care of. That's the end of your responsibility for the animal. In reality, the monks and nuns are often overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of animals being dumped on them. They simply don't have money for nutritious food so they end feeding them a diet of boiled rice. If the animals get sick there's no money for vet bills so many suffer and die. Add to this that cats can have up to four litters of kittens a year and it's easy to see how the problem can get out of control.

The past 10 years has seen the start up of three major dog rescue organisations in the city. It's a great volunteer opportunity: Santisook Dogs & Cats, Care For Dogs and Lanna Dog Rescue. These organisations go out into the community to help rescue sick and injured dogs. They also answer call outs to dogs in danger by poisoning, which is incredibly common here, and to rescue dogs being kept in inhumane conditions. Their websites give extensive insights into the work being carried out. Some of these charities also feed the larger dog populations in temples and offer help to communities to try and solve dog and cat related problems. All of the shelters here are pro-life.

The main shelters are Santisook Dogs & Cats rescue and Care for Dogs. Both offer adults and puppies for adoption. Santisook offers cat and kitten re homing. There is one dedicated cat charity, the Cat Sterilization Program who's main purpose is to trap/neuter/return cats to their home environment. All have sterilisation as their main objective. Hopefully 2012 will see the start of the first dedicated cat shelter in the city to be run along western standards. It will have spacious outdoor enclosures, recovery rooms for the sterilised cats and nursing mother/kitten accommodation. Santisook Dogs & Cats hopes this will lead to more adoptions particularly of adult cats, often loving pets dumped in temples. If you see sick or injured animals please contact one of these groups and they will help you.

The Agricultural Department and Chiang Mai University Veterinary Faculty together with Lanna Dogs hold free sterilisation days about 8 times a year in the outlying villages. People can bring cats and dogs for the operation which is carried out by 6th year vet students under the supervision of their professors. Throughout the year the Agricultural Department also runs a free rabies vaccination program in many locations (mostly temple sites), in and around the city. Responsible pet owners are encouraged to take their cats and dogs along for a free vaccination.