Mobile Veterinary Clinics in Thailand
Our mission for stray dogs and cats
Together with our partners from Lanta Animal Welfare (LAW), we have been helping stray dogs and cats in need on Koh Lanta and the neighboring islands in mobile clinics since 2013. The focus of our work is the sustainable reduction of the stray population through castration and the prevention of diseases such as rabies. Injured and sick animals receive veterinary care and, if necessary, are treated in our partner's inpatient clinic. Through intensive educational work, we also want to improve the way we deal with strays in the long term.
White beaches and sparkling turquoise water have made the Thai archipelago a popular travel destination. But the island paradise has a problem: Numerous stray dogs and cats populate the streets and beaches. They multiply uncontrollably, many of them are sick and suffering - veterinary care is almost non-existent.
Years after the devastating tsunami in Thailand in 2004, thanks to tireless reconstruction, today almost nothing reminds of the terrible natural disaster. But only few know: The large population of strays is a relic of this time because many dogs that the workers brought to the islands as guard dogs after the tsunami were left behind after the reconstruction. The uncastrated animals reproduced extremely quickly.
In addition, there are countless stray cats whose population has been able to grow uncontrollably over the years.
Driven away, injured, starved
The life of the stray dogs and cats is filled with suffering. Hunger, diseases and infections are their constant companions. With every newborn stray animal, the suffering increases because the available resources - food and permanent habitats - are fought over.
At the same time, the government's containment measures are not very sustainable: in some regions, animals are caught and kept in animal shelters, while castration or vaccinations do not take place. The displeasure of the large population of strays also grew over time on the part of the population: due to religious influences in some regions and as a result of the fear of rabies infection, dogs in particular are brutally treated in many places. Again and again it happens that strays are shot, drowned or poisoned. Also, many animals that actually have an owner are left to themselves and the dangers of life on the streets.
Even where animals are cared for by animal-loving people, there is a lack of resources and access to veterinary treatment, let alone castration. Because apart from the veterinary clinic of our partners on the island of Koh Lanta, there is no veterinary care on the neighboring islands - the nearest veterinarian is therefore often several hours away by car and ferry.
The corona pandemic has increased the suffering of strays
The consequences of the corona pandemic are fatal for Thailand's stray dogs and cats: as a result of months of travel restrictions for foreign tourists*, large parts of the local population, who earn their living from tourism, have fallen into poverty. As the costs of food, neutering and veterinary treatment have now become unaffordable for pet owners, the number of abandoned animals - especially puppies and kittens - has increased. In addition, numerous strays now live far away from civilization, almost wild - and in a constant struggle for survival in search of food.
Our commitment never stood still...
Since 2013, we have been providing extensive veterinary care for strays in nine regions of the country together with LAW:
- We run multi-day mobile clinics, where trained veterinarians and veterinary assistants travel from island to island by ship with the appropriate OR supplies.
- In order to involve the local population and to familiarize themselves with the situation of the strays on site, our teams usually reach the regions days before the start of the clinic. Then, as part of door-to-door visits - taking into account the applicable hygiene and distance requirements - people are informed about our work and the need for castration and vaccination of animals.
- In this way, we not only receive valuable information about the traditional places of the strays, but also address our commitment to pet owners who often lack the means to take good care of their pets due to the financial hardship. We would like to motivate them to have their dogs and cats treated as part of our our mobile clinic and thus reduce future suffering.
The support in the different communities plays an important role in the successful implementation: In some regions, the local authorities are now providing accommodation and provisions for our teams. Elsewhere, we receive permission to use some buildings and facilities to allow the clinic days to take place.
The veterinary treatments then take place over several days - depending on the region, several hundred animals can be cared for within four to seven days.
The strays are carefully caught using the "Catch & Release" method, castrated, vaccinated, cared for and then released again, marked with a kind of tattoo on the ear. Severely injured and weak or very young animals whose chances of surviving as strays would be low remain in the care of our partner organization. In the stationary animal clinic on Koh Lanta, which is operated by our partner organization, the animals receive veterinary care and are adopted by animal-loving families after they have recovered.
Education as the key to sustainable animal welfare
Word of the mobile clinics is now getting around quickly, also due to the accompanying information work, and the local population is steadily growing in popularity. This is also evident from the fact that people independently bring their own pets or stray cats they have picked up for treatment.
Educational programs in schools and communities are also an important component of our work in order to achieve greater animal protection awareness in the population in the long term. As part of the “Being kind to streets animals” and “Being a good pet owner” programs, we teach school children how to treat strays with respect and how to properly care for them. However, after these measures could only take place to a very limited extent or not at all in some regions as a result of the strict lockdown rules in the corona pandemic, we now have to do everything we can within the next two years: We want to close the gaps and expand our work in schools in addition to our running mobile clinics system.
Since the beginning of our mission in 2013, more than 15,000 treatments have been carried out on dogs and cats (as of January 2022). In order to achieve our goal of having 80 percent of the animals castrated and vaccinated in the nine regions of Thailand covered by our project, it is essential to ensure the regularity of the mobile - and to provide valuable information work at the same time.
Dear animal lovers, please help us! With your donation, enable us, despite the challenges, to improve the lives of thousands of suffering stray dogs and cats in Thailand!