The Pattaya population seems to be dwindling because of the mass exodus of businesses and employees leaving town due to the COVID-19 pandemic economic crisis, but the population of dogs and cats and other stray animals seems to be growing in leaps and bounds.
Thai people love dogs and cats, so whether the pet was left at their doorstep or was brought into their homes as cute and cuddly little babies that have now grown up to be large animals needing a lot of attention physically, mentally and spiritually, some begin to have second thoughts.
For many, either for economic reasons or that the novelty of cuddling their baby pets has worn off, decide that they made the wrong decision and it was time to get rid of their once beloved companion, not caring whether they will have a home, food to eat nor someone to care for them. Most painful of all, they don’t realise that their pet will become emotionally scarred for the rest of their lives.
Thankfully, some pet owners still have a soft spot for them, realising that by just abandoning them on a street far away from their homes, their furry four-legged friends will have to fend for themselves as soi dogs, scrounging and scavenging for scraps of food in garbage dumps.
So as not to become total sinners, they abandon their pets at Buddhist temples knowing very well that the monks will look after them, feed them and give them a home. This, they believe, is making merit and they will be absolved of their wrongdoing.
Traditionally, Thai Buddhist temples are considered a safe haven for animals. Thais and long-term residents of Thailand must have noticed that there is a large population of stray dogs and cats amongst a myriad of other exotic animals living on the grounds in every Buddhist temple around the country. You will also see monks giving them love and care and feeding them with whatever food is available that the devout in the neighborhood bring as offerings every day.
Monks at Pattaya’s Wat Kratinglai say that caring for the dogs on the grounds is already taking a toll on them, but the situation is getting worse because the dogs breed, causing the population to grow rapidly.
One resident monk said, “As much as we love the animals living in our temple, the dog population explosion has become a worry. We decided that it was time to take birth control measures to slow down the dog baby boom.”
The monks appealed to city hall for assistance. On June 21, Deputy Mayor Manote Nongyai and Chalermpol Pol-look-in, deputy secretary to the mayor, led a city veterinarian team to the temple where they neutered all the stray dogs and cats living there.
The monks were extremely relieved to witness the birth control campaign knowing that from now on, they would have a limited dog and cat population to care for, except of course when the devout come to make merit and abandon their dogs and cats to be left at the mercy of kind-hearted monks.