Stray dog round-up suspended
THALANG: The mass round-up of Phuket’s stray dogs – which began on June 18 – has been suspended amid problems including budget overspending, escaping dogs, and a small number of the 200-plus strays at the pound being “liberated” by their former neighborhood feeders. Veterinarian Dr Weerapab Termkiatpaisarn, the head of round-up program at Phuket Provincial Livestock Office (PPLO), told the Gazette today that the PPLO has halted the round-up pending a meeting due to take place on July 13. Dr Weerapab said, “We have encountered many problems since the round-up began last month. Some dogs have escaped through the fence – which was not very well constructed – either by by biting through it or by digging underneath it. We have now blocked the holes with planks of wood.” He also said that the sterilization program at the pound had been overwhelmed by the arrival each day of too many dogs. “It wasn’t properly organized,” he admitted. Dr Weerapab explained that the PPLO has so far spent more than 100,000 baht on tranquilizer darts, each one of which costs between 200 and 300 baht. He said, “It is expensive to subdue dogs in this way but it is the safest method [for the dog catchers] to capture them. The dogs are scared and could bite the catchers.” Dr Weerapab said that he understood the feelings of dog lovers who have traveled to the pound, identified animals impounded from their neighborhood, and walked out with them. “I acknowledge that not everyone agrees with the round-up and the pound itself, but some people just do not appreciate the problems this province has [with stray dogs],” he said. He added that all 19 local administrations in Phuket have been advised of the suspension of the round-up but added that it would resume after the July 13 meeting with Phuket Governor Udomsak Usawarangkura. Margot Homburg Park, founder of the Soi Dog Foundation, urged the government to abandon the round-up and close the pound. “I know that many people were really, really hurt by the round-up, because they took care of stray dogs [that were rounded up in their area] for many years. “The conditions in the pound are very bad. Many dogs will die as a result. It’s so cruel, and it goes against all the established wisdom about controlling stray dog [populations]. “Some dogs had mange when they were taken to the pound, and they will infect the other dogs there. It is so irresponsible. They have to find a way to stop [the pound project]. That’s the only thing they can do. “The government officials been told all this but they didn’t want to listen.” “They know that they have done something wrong, but they don’t want to admit it. All the [private sector] veterinarians are against this project, and so are all the animal charities.” Mrs Park urged the provincial authorities to take a two-pronged approach to the stray dog problem, by educating people about dogs and dog population control, and by providing cheap sterilization for the animals. She also urged dog lovers to campaign against the pound and the round-up. “We have to write to the governor, to call the governor, to send e-mail, to send faxes and to protest, because it is really wrong. “It’s wrong for Phuket, for the island’s tourist [image], it’s wrong for the dogs and it’s wrong for the local people of Phuket.”
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