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If you walk the streets of Thailand, especially in small villages, it's very likely you will see stray dogs, of all ages and breeds. Their favorite hangouts are street corners, local markets, temples and other public places where they can find food and shelter.

Have you ever wondered where they're from, since dogs normally have owners? There are a few answers to this question. For a start, a number of owners buy or are given puppies as a present. However, when they grow older they aren't as cute anymore; then, some owners get rid of the dogs by dropping them off in the middle of nowhere.

Moreover, most Thais own mixed-breed dogs that can be a cross of any breed, and keep them outside the house. As a result, they roam around the neighborhood and meet other dogs.

There are many stray dogs in Thailand. Here is one resting in a phone booth.
Stray dogs often sleep in public places, such as bus stops and phone booths.

Since they usually haven't been sterilized, the dogs end up reproducing. There is no problem as long as the owner of the bitch wants to keep the puppies. On the other hand, if he doesn't want the puppies, can't afford to feed them and no one else wants them, there's a good chance they will end up in the streets.

Sterilizing Dogs

Fixing dogs is not common in Thailand. Since most Thais are really easy going, they don't bother to sterilize their dogs. In addition, Buddhists believe in karma. Saying, what you do to others will come back to you one day. Since sterilizing causes pain and the dog no longer will be able to reproduce, many Thai pet owners are afraid they may not be able to have kids if they have their dog sterilized.

Common Places To Abandon Dogs

Buddhist temples in Thailand are often shelters for stray dogs.

I would say that Buddhist temples is the most popular place to abandon dogs, since they have a lot of leftovers. The new dog can stay if it's accepted by the temple dogs.

Other common places include isolated roads or even outside someone's fence.

This is why you can see stray dogs and cats at most temples around Thailand. Since no one really cares for these animals, some of them have skin diseases that make them lose their fur and they often smell bad.

Sometimes Buddhist monasteries actively discourage people from dumping their unwanted pets at temples, since it's a burden to the resident monks.

This poster asks people not to abandon dogs at Buddhist temples in Thailand.
The sign says, "Please be kind to me and don't leave me at the temple.
I would be a burden to the monks, who would have to feed me and pick up the waste."

Poisoning Dogs

Many Thais are cruel to animals because they are considered lower than humans, and stray dogs are no exception. Some farmers end up poisoning stray dogs that dig holes in their farmland, step on newly planted rubber trees or run after the chickens, by giving them rat poison mixed with food.

This happened to one of my dogs that enjoyed running after the neighbor's backyard chickens.

Rabies Shots For Dogs

Every year, the local governments offer free rabies shots for all cats and dogs. If you don't make it to the free vaccination drive, you have to pay for the shot at the local vet. However, many stray dogs are not given the shots, because they don't allow strangers to come close.

Dog Shelters

There are a number of individuals, from all socio economic groups, and non-profit organizations around Thailand that offer care and shelter for stray dogs. These dog shelters are in need of financial support.

A man feeds stray dogs along the road in Thailand.
Every afternoon, this kind man drives his pickup truck
to distribute food to stray dogs along the road.

Volunteers are welcome, since the shelters usually have a high workload. Here is a link to Care For Dogs, that is a well-established organization in Chiang Mai. The site offers more information about stray dogs in Thailand.

Cautions About Stray Dogs

Most stray dogs are afraid of people, except the ones who feed them. Some can be territorial though, especially after dark. So, if you're not comfortable to walk past them, carry an umbrella or a stick, just in case.

When you walk on the beach, you may also run into stray dogs.

Many stray dogs, and even dogs that have owners, run after bicycles and motorcycles. This can be quite unpleasant. Exercise caution.

Suggested Reading:   Geckos In Thailand   Buddhist Temples

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