June 8, 2009—Thailand's capital city of Bangkok is struggling to cope with a growing population of stray dogs. It's estimated as many as 300,000 strays wander the streets.
© 2009 National Geographic (AP)
The city of Bangkok might have the worst stray dog problem of any city in the world.
Its estimated that as many as 300-thousand stray dogs wander the streets of the Thailand capital.
Kind-hearted Buddhists who feed the strays, and poor public infrastructure to handle their control, mean that the stray dog population is rampantly growing.
SOUNDBITE: (Thai) Bang-On Kingsak, Carer for Street Dogs: "I feel sorry, I feel really sorry for them. When I see stray dogs I look at them and I want to bring them in if I have the money because I love dogs, and so does my husband, but sometimes they cause so much trouble."
Unwanted dogs are often rounded up and dumped at the local Buddhist temples where monks won't turn them away. But one temple has literally 'gone to the dogs'.
The temple's dog condominium houses 700 of the animals and spends 1,500 US dollars a week feeding them.
It's a heavy burden on the temple's small staff.
SOUNDBITE: (Thai) Phra Phayom Kalayano, Abbot of Wat Suan Kaew: "They run on the street causing car accidents. People can get hurt and their dead bodies on the streets create an ugly scene. So we have to solve this problem."
One non-government organization is running an animal birth control project.
First, packs of dogs contained to one neighborhood are identified.
Then, one-by-one a group is captured, taken to be sterilized and vaccinated before being returned to where they came from.
SOUNDBITE: (English) Annelize Booysen, General Manager of Soi Cats and Dogs (SCAD): "These animals will now have a very healthy and happy co-existence with the humans in this specific community, because they won't be able to have unwanted litters anymore, plus they've had their vaccinations which means they are a stable population now which should be able to live out their lives quite happily here and that is what we are aiming at."
Veterinary services are limited and this private organization can only sterilize a very few animals at a given time.
Not enough, they say, to effectively break the birth cycle of the dogs. And Bangkok's street dog population will continue to grow until more people are willing to take more action.