Tail wagging the dog

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Editor;

Your correspondent (April 19) suggests city hall rounds up all unregistered dogs and escorts them to the pound. He does not indicate their likely future there, but the crematoria will be mighty busy. The titanic costs of such an ongoing local authority campaign would shatter any feasible budget.

Of course, the physical and health threats from dogs are severe. But so are the injuries and deaths caused by motorbikes. Thailand pours multi-million baht into regular police crackdowns, yet the death toll of human corpses is an annual horror story. The expense of all that human misery makes canine horror stories minor by comparison.

True, if you are bitten by a dog you may well have to pay the medical bills yourself. But that’s true of any hospital charges here unless you are specifically insured. I was attacked by a flying bat last year – some said about time too – but nobody rushed forward with a cheque book.

It is always alluring to promote simplistic solutions to dire problems, quoting sanctions and the law. All prostitution in Thailand is illegal under an act of 1960, yet I see traces of it even in holy Pattaya. By all means punish with fines all those who feed stray animals and then divert the cash from dog sterilization to the kids of the future, as your correspondent naively suggests. But don’t be too shocked if the money somehow gets lost in the system.

The purpose of the law is to keep the lid on problems rather than absolutely to solve them. Three quarters of all Thai prisoners are there for drugs offenses, but you can still buy the stuff on some street corners. The law is rarely the simplistic winner-take-all answer to complex social problems. But I do confess to battering the bat to death.

Barry Kenyon