The following is a press release from the Soi Dog Foundation.
Soi Dog Foundation is warning against the unmanaged sheltering of stray dogs following an outbreak of canine distemper virus at a government-run facility on the island of Koh Kood in Trat province.
Transmitted through direct contact and airborne exposure – namely sneezing, coughing and sharing food and water bowls – the virus swept the island in a matter of weeks. A total of 30 dogs have died and a further 100 have been infected as a result.
Rather than impounding dogs with little forethought for their future care, the foundation is urging authorities to prioritise a programme of sterilisation and vaccination on the island – a long-term strategy that will help humanely reduce the dog population on the island and stem the spread of infectious diseases.
“The intention to care for these dogs is impressive, but shelters are costly and difficult to manage,” explained Soi Dog’s Community Relations Manager Sakdapol Thongjan. “If not managed properly, disease spreads and animals suffer, like we have seen here with distemper.”
At the Soi Dog shelter in Phuket, strict disease control measures are in place to prevent outbreaks, including the quarantining of infectious animals in purpose-built isolation units. The foundation strongly believes that sheltering alone is not a solution and must be run in tandem with programmes that benefit the welfare of stray animals, such as adoption, sterilisation, vaccination, humane education, community outreach and the enforcement of animal welfare legislation.
“The problem with stray dogs is not the dogs themselves. It’s a human issue,” said Sakdapol.
In addition to liaising with the authorities, Soi Dog is also working to control the outbreak on Koh Kood by vaccinating the island’s 800+ dogs against distemper and other diseases as well as providing supportive care to those infected with the virus.
This isn’t the first time Soi Dog has lent a hand on Koh Kood. Since 2016, the foundation has partnered with the local office of the Department of Livestock Development (DLD) in Trat on a number of occasions to neuter and vaccinate dogs and cats on the island, most recently in September this year. Soi Dog hopes the recent outbreak makes clear that sheltering alone is not the solution and looks forward to continuing to work with the authorities on sustainable solutions to managing the dog and cat population on the island for the benefit of the animals and the community at large.