So many people who travel overseas see countless number of stray dogs. When it’s so natural to take care of the dogs in Western world, here in Asia dog’s life has a different purpose. Usually people don’t pay a lot of attention to the street dogs, which face hunger, pain, misery and rejection on the street. But there is a way how we can make their lives better. We will tell you how every traveler can be a part of it.
As we mainly traveled through Thailand and Bali in past months I will cover the situation of street dogs in these countries. But this applies to all Asian countries. You as a traveller can help those which are less lucky with their destiny.
Situation in Thailand
Conservative estimates that Thailand is home to upwards of 10 million street dogs. Many were born on the streets and many which are rejected and abandoned by their owners. This cause that every year millions more unwanted puppies are born at the streets. Most of them will not survive their first month of life. But others will spend their life on the street.
Food is scarce and the dogs have to fight almost daily to defend their territories. Many street dogs are ill and sick, because they have no vaccinations or have been poisoned, or even attacked by humans.
The lucky dogs are the ones who find their way to the Buddhist temples. Here they will be fed left-over’s from the monks meals and will be relatively safe. However, they will receive no medical care and will remain unsterilised and unvaccinated.
Some people who live at the villages also feed street dogs. They believe that dogs will bark at the intruders. But people still don’t look at the dog the same way as in the Western world. People don’t take a responsibility to take care of the dog and don’t think of themselves as an owners.
Street Dogs in Bali
Many people who visit Bali see stray dogs on the beaches, streets and other tourists attractions. So many dogs are wandering on the island!
Due to this the dogs in Bali relies on humans for one source of food, but they are highly independent and can survive on their own. 85 to 90 per cent of village dogs do have owners – they are not kept inside but roam outside doorways to protect households from spirits and thieves. Some dogs ‘belong’ to a family but this does not mean that the people involved will necessarily give it food or water or otherwise assume any responsibility for its care. This is not an ownership as understood in the Western context.
Bali dogs are by nature free roaming animals that have roamed the island of Bali for thousands of years. Many Bali dogs have no choice but to scavenge food from rubbish dumps and temple offerings. They have served Balinese society for thousands of years by cleaning up trash and offerings, and removing the food supply of rats. Therefore they have a valuable place in the island’s eco system.
In 2008 the dog population was estimated to be approximately 600,000. With the outbreak of rabies and the ensuing mass culling, the number dropped to approximately 150,000 dogs. Aside from organised culling, hundreds of dogs’ lives are lost every week to the dog meat trade, acts of cruelty, disease and more.
What You Can Do
Much of the food lacks the required nutrition to sustain a healthy dog and many of the dogs are suffering from more than just hunger. These dogs are out in the streets surviving among the other strays, but they don’t see human as a threat.
Animal welfare organisations encourage foreigners to feed the street dogs when possible. You should inform organisations when you come across a street dog which is particularly in a bad shape.
We fed all of our tofu when we saw a dog mama on our way. We also gave as much food as we could to a skinny dog while we were volunteering for a week. It all consists of small acts of kindness every day.
Donations for certain organisations are also very helpful. Then the vets can spay and neuter cats and dogs living on the streets and lower the number of newborn cats and puppies.
I heard there is a stigma that street dogs attack humans. Some street dogs eventually become aggressive, due to abuse or lack of food, But the cause of aggression towards humans is brought on by animal abusers in the first place.
Say No to Animal Abuse
Asia is taking baby steps when it comes to protecting their animals. Elephants still carry the weight of excited tourists on their back. Rare species are used for taking selfies with them. We highly encourage you to be the voice of the voiceless animals. If there is no demand, there will be no supply! Please, don’t contribute to any of the shows or tours (incase it’s a well known sanctuary) which includes animals. You would be surprised how tourist worsen the situation.
Where does this situation leave street dogs? Many locals in Asia struggle for food by themselves so it would be naive to believe they’ll start to control and take care of street dogs before they are not comfort by themselves. In this situation it is the best solution to accept the help from the outside to brighten up the future of the strays. It is possible to look past the matted fur and infections the streets have left for these dogs and remember they are still just dogs.
Here are some useful links:
Press to see why carrying a weight for an elephant is a torture.
All words by Eisve Treciakauskaite and all images by Justinas Lekavicius, unless otherwise noted.