A SHELTERED LIFE
King leads by example and helps establish a centre for stray dogs
Story by CHAIWAT SATYAEM
The coastal resort town of Hua Hin is taking stray dogs off the streets and offering them a home under a project initiated by His Majesty the King.
Mayor Siripan Kamolpramote said the Hua Hin Dog Shelter at Wat Khao Itisukato is now home to 1,800 dogs under the care of two veterinarians, two animal husbandry workers and 15 workers.
Aimed to be a model for dog shelters in other towns, the shelter has been collecting strays which previously roamed the beaches, markets, temples and communities in the municipality since August 2003.
The project received seeding funds of four million baht from His Majesty the King in 2003.
The King, who frequently stays at the Klaikangwon Palace in Hua Hin, adopted a stray female dog he named Khun Tongdaeng. His care for her is seen as a role model for the public.
The funding for the shelter, which is located on a 22-rai plot the temple donated, actually came from sales of polo shirts bearing Khun Tongdaeng's image.
Most of the money went on the construction of fences and buildings.
After the project was transferred to the Hua Hin municipality in July 2003, the municipality added more facilities, such as water pipes, power and telephone lines as well as medical equipment and supplies.
At present the team collecting strays goes out every Friday to pick up the dogs. It also acts upon request, which adds another 10 extra trips monthly. Each week about 10 pet dogs are added to the shelter.
With an annual budget of 3.5 million baht the municipality started granting last year, the dogs are sterilised, vaccinated and cured of any diseases. The shelter also puts these dogs up for adoption.
So far 80% of the dogs in the shelter have been sterilised. The main disease is skin problems, but about 10 of the dogs in the shelter suffer from body infections.
Shelter director Pirapong Isarabhakdi said medical services are available to pet dogs owned by nearby residents.
According to Mr Pirapong, vet Noppakrit Chanthik, who took care of Khun Tongdaeng, frequently visits the shelter to conduct check-ups on the dogs there. The shelter has also sent its staff to dog training courses at the military dog training centre in the province.
Mr Pirapong said each year a group of veterinary science students from Mahidol University come to study the centre's management.
At present dog feed costs the temple about 200,000 baht per month. Most comes from donations by the public and hotel operators.
Under a budget of 40 million baht, the shelter is now trying to zone the dogs into groups, according to their age and behaviour. The zoning will be completed in April this year.
To promote the shelter as a new tourist attraction, the shelter held an event last November to demonstrate dog training and offered a dog-behaviour test. The event was warmly received.
Mr Pirapong, who is also an advisor to the mayor, said the municipality office is now pushing for a municipal law on pet control. At present, the office is surveying the dog population in the municipality and conducting a "new home" project for the animals.
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