Dogs in helmets inspire Sattahip motorcyclists

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PATTAYA – Police can’t get most motorcyclists to wear them, but helmets adorn the heads of three dogs a Sattahip man takes with him on food runs.

Sawang Poltamai, 61, is a bit of a local hero around Sattahip. Several years ago, he quit his full-time job to care for 32 dogs, even though he was too poor to afford housing or food for them, or even a motorbike for himself.

In February 2015, Sompop Primphol, head of a local “anti-drugs motorcycle club” and 10 members arrived at Sawang’s Sukhumvit Soi 109 home in Plutaluang to build the dogs a shelter and dig a new ground well.

He was regularly spotted around town riding a bicycle towing a five-meter-long wooden trailer on which sat young poodle Nasan, who sat behind a fake steering wheel wearing a hat.

Nasan the poodle traded in his cap for a helmet when Sawang traded in his bicycle for a motorbike with sidecar and trailer.
Nasan the poodle traded in his cap for a helmet when Sawang traded in his bicycle for a motorbike with sidecar and trailer.

He pedaled around local markets, asking for leftover food to take to his dogs.

Thanks to another donation, Sawang later traded in his bicycle for a motorbike with sidecar and trailer and Nasan traded in his cap for a helmet. They’ve also been joined by pooches Kaotang and Royjone, also in helmets.

Sawang is now caring for 50 dogs and continues to solicit donations and food around town. But he said he always complies with traffic laws and not only wears a helmet himself, but makes sure his canine passengers have them as well.

He hopes he can set a good example for the many Thais who disregard helmets, leading to one of the highest motorcycle fatality rates in the world.

The dogs in helmets certainly did catch the attention of many around Sattahip, with some pledging they’d now follow the four-legged example.