Thailand launches “first-of-its-kind” initiative to improve dog welfare

Thailand launches “first-of-its-kind” initiative to improve dog welfare

The province of Trang has launched a programme following Thailand’s announcement to re-open on 1 November post COVID-19 regulations


October 28, 2021 –The province of Trang in Thailand has launched a first-of-its-kind initiative to improve dog welfare by humanely managing the stray dog population through sterilization. Last week, an historic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by international NGO FOUR PAWS, Trang Department of Livestock (DLD), and local Thai charity Lanta Animal Welfare to implement this initiative across the province. The launch of this project comes as Thailand announces its official reopening for international tourists on 1 November 2021.

The strategic initiative consists of three parts: 

(1) Intensive training for DLD veterinarians, nurses and support staff on surgery and humane dog catching 

(2) Interventions at the Trang animal shelter to improve conditions and train shelter staff 

(3) Year-round mobile surgical clinics to sterilize and vaccinate 80% of dogs in target areas. Achieving a sterilization rate of 80% has been demonstrated to humanely reduce dog populations over time. The program also aims to encourage members of the local community to see sterilization and vaccination as beneficial for both humans and animals.

“When dogs are sterilized and vaccinated, communities are happier and healthier. Stray dogs no longer pose a threat due to rabies, and the endless cycle of puppies being born into a life of suffering stops. Programs like these also benefit visitors to Thailand, who are saddened by seeing sick and injured animals”.

-Dr. Katherine Polak, Head of Stray Animal Care Southeast Asia for FOUR PAWS

Thailand is home to millions of stray dogs, many of which often suffer from neglect and poor welfare. Trang in particular has a high density of free-roaming dogs. Trang has been historically plagued by canine rabies cases in the past.  In 2018, three districts of Trang were declared ‘rabies control zones’ after 15 out of 30 tested dogs tested positive for rabies.

An initial population survey of dogs in the area is scheduled to start this week, followed by health checks of resident animals at the Trang shelter along with the first of many surgical training workshops for local government vets.

“This project is unique to other initiatives in Thailand in that it was requested by the local government,” explains Matt Backhouse, Southeast Asia Stray Animal Care Manager for FOUR PAWS. “There are many committed and professional NGO’s working to help dogs in Thailand, but it is refreshing to see the government eager to improve their skills and expertise on a collaborative project. We hope this model of cooperation and training will serve as a model for future projects and will ensure our programs are effective and sustainable for years to come.”

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FOUR PAWS is the global animal welfare organization for animals under direct human influence, which reveals suffering, rescues animals in need, and protects them. Founded in 1988 in Vienna by Heli Dungler and friends, the organization advocates for a world where humans treat animals with respect, empathy, and understanding. FOUR PAWS’ sustainable campaigns and projects focus on companion animals including stray dogs and cats, farm animals and wild animals – such as bears, big cats, and orangutans – kept in inappropriate conditions as well as in disaster and conflict zones. With offices in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Kosovo, the Netherlands, Switzerland, South Africa, Thailand, Ukraine, the UK, the USA and Vietnam, as well as sanctuaries for rescued animals in eleven countries, FOUR PAWS provides rapid help and long-term solutions.