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Dog pound in dire straits

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Dog pound in dire straits | The Thaiger
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THALANG: Food supplies are dwindling at the Mid Road Dog Shelter in Thalang, leaving some 300 dogs to subsist on rations of cat food donated after the tsunami.

Even this supply is expected to run out by the end of July and there appears to be no long-term solution to the problem.

The controversial facility, opened last July, was intended as a permanent shelter for some of the island’s estimated 10,000 to 13,000 stray dogs, but has thus far done little to reduce the number of strays on the island.

Sunart Wongchawalit, chief of the Phuket Provincial Livestock Office (PPLO), explained that adequately feeding all 300 dogs requires 100 kilograms of dry dog food a day.

Island hotels had begun donating scraps to the shelter just before the tsunami hit, he said, but have made no donations since.

After the dog food ran out, there was still a supply of about 6,000kg of cat food donated after the tsunami. At the current rate of consumption, however, this too will run out – by the end of July, K. Sunart said.

“We asked pet supply shops on the island to exchange the cat food for dog food of equal value, but they said they would rather sell the cat food on our behalf and then use the proceeds to buy dog food, which would be given to the shelter.

“However, we felt that it would be unfair to those who donated the cat food, as their expectations would not be met,” he said.

K. Sunart said there has thus far been little support for the shelter from Tambon Administration Organizations (OrBorTor) and municipalities.

“We asked each local body to provide funding for the shelter. We do have a 90,000-baht commitment from Phuket City, but we still haven’t received the funds. When we do, that should buy 3,000kg of food – enough to last about three months. But we will still need a lot more than that,” he said.

Of Phuket’s 19 local administrative bodies, only three others have agreed to chip in for dog food and staff wages: OrBorTor Cherng Talay, Cherng Talay Municipality and OrBorTor Wichit. Private-sector donations have been even less impressive.

“When the shelter was officially opened by Governor Udomsak Uswarangkura last July, a foundation was set up by the PPLO to receive donations to support the shelter.

“I contributed the first 10,000 baht, but so far that has been the only contribution,” he said.

“We don’t know the solution right now. If we run out of dog food, we will probably have to start asking for donations from shops,” he said.

K. Sunart explained that, initially, a committee was established comprising representatives from several government agencies, each with specific responsibilities. This approach failed due to lack of cooperation and the entire responsibility has since fallen to PPLO, he said.

He put the minimum current financial needs of the shelter at about 110,000 baht; 20,000 baht for staff salaries and 90,000 baht for food.

“Even though we feel abandoned right now, the dog pound is open and it’s up to us to run it. If we could get more cooperation from the local bodies, then we could register all the dogs on the island, implant them with microchips, and also have enough money to run the shelter properly,” he said.

As if the current scenario were not dire enough, more dogs may be on the way.

OrBorTor Rawai Deputy Chairman Kraiwut Kumbaan told the Gazette yesterday that he had discussed the stray dog issue in the Rawai area with the idea of rounding up strays and sending them to the pound.

He said that if the Mid Road Shelter agreed to accept the animals, he would raise the issue of providing financial support at a council meeting next week.

“Some dog clubs are opposed to our idea, but we do have to find a place to put all these animals, preferably in the shelter. We understand that there isn’t enough food there at the moment, which is why I will raise this issue with the committee,” he said.

Margot Homburg-Park of the Soi Dog Foundation (SDF) told the Gazette she opposed sending strays to the shelter, as they would only suffer there from the overcrowding and the shortage of food.

She pointed out that no budget had been allocated for feeding dogs when the facility started accepting them, and noted that her foundation was rebuffed when it offered to get more involved in work at the facility.

Mrs Homburg Park recently returned from Singapore, where she had accepted two awards on behalf of the SDF for the group’s post-tsunami work with Phuket’s stray dog and cats.

She added that the SDF also recently received two large grants, one from the World Society for the Protection of Animals, that would allow it to expand its sterilization campaigns on the island.

She said that reducing the stray dog population through sterilization and increasing public awareness was a realistic goal, and one that her group would continue to work hard to achieve.

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