Opinion: Being a responsible pet owner

PHUKET: Boonsom Roongudom, 59, is a Phuket native. He received a veterinary degree from the Department of Livestock Development (DLD), Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives. Mr Boonsom has been working as a veterinarian for the Phuket Municipality since 1980.

Here, he talks about the on-going issue of abandoned cats and dogs in Phuket City and outlines his suggestions for a long term solution.

Phuket as we all know, is a major tourist destination, and Phuket Town is an important historical area. The government is constantly working to promote and maintain the image of Phuket by hosting interesting events and activities in the area, in order to boost the economy and reputation of Old Town.

However one persistent issue that we see all around, and that I really want to get rid of, is the problem of stray animals, especially dogs, in the Phuket City Municipality area.

The root of the problem is that most owners are not aware that contraception is necessary for their animals. These animals keep breeding and creating problems for everyone else, as the owners do not take responsibility for them.

I would like to encourage Phuket City Municipality residents to take responsibility for their pets. If you decide to adopt them, you must be good at taking care of them as well. You must make sure you take the time to ensure their cleanliness, which is very crucial for their good health.

People must take the responsibility of vaccinating their animals at stipulated intervals. Vaccines are necessary to prevent the spread of contagious diseases and skin problems. If people do not take good care of their animals, they will frequently get sick, which will cost them even more in medical expenses. It is also necessary to vaccinate your animals for your own health, as some of these diseases can be passed on to humans. So, not only is it necessary for your animals, it is important to protect yourself as well.

Some owners, who no longer want to assume responsibility for their animals, just abandon them at temples or by the roadside. This also adds to the waste in the area, as animals defecate unchecked on public and private properties.

So, we must attack the problem at the roots. The issue is clear: pet owners need to take responsibility for their animals and to this end, I suggest that owners of all cats, dogs and other pets in the municipality must register their animals with us.

We are doing our best to issue municipal laws about this matter, in order to control the unbridled spread of stray animals in Phuket City. These laws will work for the benefit of everyone in the community. The fine and punishment for breaching these laws is currently under review.

One of the laws that urgently needs to be implemented is that whenever anyone takes their dogs out in public, such as to a market, public park, school or any other public place, they must be kept on a leash and under control. The owners must also make sure that the leash does not harm the animals.

Our clinic was only recently launched, but residents in the area are slowly becoming aware of our presence and the services we provide. We are working on improving public relations via local radio channels, leaflets, and also by word of mouth to create awareness among people in the Phuket City Community.

We constantly strive to educate people about vaccines, neutering, birth control, and other issues that they may not have known about before. At the moment our center can only offer a free rabies vaccine, which is provided by the Department of Local Administration.

I hope to see the stray animal situation in Phuket improve soon. I hope that in about three years’ time, the number of stray dogs will have significantly decreased through our push to educate and connect with the owners. I am aware that we cannot change peoples’ perspectives immediately, but we hope to see a gradual change. That is why it is necessary to start from the root of the problem and come up with a long term solution.

— Chutharat Plerin

Phuket News

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