Opinion: No pet left behind

PHUKET: It’s official. I’ve got puppy fever. I’ve started budgeting more commuting time so that I can pullover and love on whatever soi critter I happen to see while idling in the daily traffic around Phuket Town and the Bypass Road.

Actually it’s not just puppy fever, it’s pet fever. If it’s got fur, I’m off my bike, petting it. I doubt that I’m alone in my adoration for soi animals. In fact, I’m certain I’m not, as nearly every other week, someone posts on one of the dozens of Facebook expat groups in Phuket that they’re leaving and trying to find a good home for their pets. Cue the inevitable digital berating, arguments and judgment.

As for me, I’m a bit on the fence with the issue. It’s genuinely heartwarming whenever a soi dog or cat is taken in, for however long that may be. Besides rescuing the animal from a life of mange and misery, or ending up as eventual road kill, you’re also ensuring that they’re not procreating and spreading that misery to a new generation of soi kittens and pups.

Rescuing animals is, of course, a great thing. No one in the all-caps section of the expat Facebook pages is arguing about that. What’s turned them the color of chili peppers is what happens to that pup when you’re done teaching, your yoga training ends or you move. It’s about not having the decency to commit to the animal that you’ve rescued or taken in, that it’s somehow okay to abandon a family member when it becomes difficult to take them along.

And that argument, at its core, is the real reason I haven’t made a commitment to one of these pups yet. Adopting an animal is a commitment, but in Phuket, some expats have apparently never learned the lesson that the responsibility doesn’t end when your stint as an English teacher does.

If you’re not sure where you’ll be in a year, you can absolutely still get an animal. You just have to understand that the animal is now coming with you. It belongs to you and it is more important than the laptop you lug from country to country.

It’s hard enough to navigate the immigration rules between countries when it’s just you, it’ll be harder still with a pup or cat in tow, but when you make that commitment, you’re committed. And that’s the nature of commitment – you’re stuck with it, no matter what.

— Wes Martin

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Legacy Phuket Gazette

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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