Of course, stray dogs live a tough life regardless of what streets they roam in their corners of the world. However, it seems as though the dogs that call the lanes of Chiang Mai home face a particularly uphill climb. These soi dogs, as they’re commonly known, must overcome challenges around every turn if they are to survive.
In Chiang Mai, much like all other places in Thailand, the number of stray dogs is extremely high. Overcrowding in the streets often leads to aggressive, territorial behavior. Alpha dogs, along with their packs, will thrive, whereas solitary or more submissive dogs frequently get attacked.
With such a high population, rabies outbreaks can be a concern, both for humans and canines alike. Although the disease can be prevented with a vaccine, few people are looking out for the well-being of stray dogs. Once rabies symptoms appear, death is imminent and torturous.
Without any population control, neighborhoods are often overrun with dogs. If their existence poses too high of a nuisance to the people sharing their living space, poison may very well find its way as an added ingredient to their evening meal. Moreover, if pigeons are poisoned to reduce their numbers, dogs that eat those dying birds can also get sick and die.
Although Chiang Mai is considered a small city compared to Bangkok, the metropolitan area is home to over 1 million residents. Cars, song taews and motorbikes flood the streets, and sadly, dogs are frequently injured, maimed and killed by being hit on the roads.
Dog Meat Trade
Certainly, the nastiest fate a dog in Chiang Mai might end up with, is getting trapped in the dog meat trade. Collect trucks roam the streets, picking up stray dogs, who are then crammed into cages and transported overland into the larger meat markets of Laos and Vietnam. If they survive the truck ride, they are force-fed through a tube into their stomachs to increase their weight. Many times, a dog’s stomach will explode as a result of this, but since death is the intention anyway, they’re just sold to a buyer earlier.
Warning: The video below is extremely graphic and may not be appropriate for all viewers. Viewer discretion is strongly advised.
Hope on the Horizon
Despite, or perhaps because of, all these challenges facing stray dogs in Chiang Mai, there are people helping. Care for Dogs is a non-profit foundation dedicated to improving the lives of street dogs in the city, by providing medical treatment, fighting against the dog meat trade and running a sterilization program to help control the canine population, as well as running a rescue center. Lanna Dog Welfare works directly in the community taking care of stray dogs in need, educating people on how to solve problems with dogs in a non-violent way, and advocating for animal welfare to local governments. Save Elephant Foundation also runs a Dog Rescue Project, which is currently home to over 400 dogs, provides veterinary care in its small animal clinic for the local community, and rescues animals from the meat trade.
All of these foundations accept volunteers, will help arrange adoptions and gladly accept donations, so everyone can pitch in and make the lives of these pups so much better!