February 11, 2015

Street Dogs, Temple Dogs, and Pampered Dogs.

Photograph by Goy Bravo.

Our social media abounds with photos of adorable dogs. They are “man’s best friend,” indeed. Many people bestow more love, time and conversation on their pawed friends than on their families.

But in Thailand, street dogs roam in packs and are flea-infested and starved. Abandoned in staggering numbers and breeding uncontrollably, these stray animals overwhelm the streets and the system. According to Thai Press Reports in October 2007 – the most recent data I could locate – in Bangkok alone, over 120,000 dogs were homeless. Imagine the number today. Every town and city in this country faces this problem.

DSC_0457 (2)

Photograph by Chantal Jauvin.

Photograph by Ippei Suzuki.









Photograph courtesy of Project Street Dogs Hua Hin.














Most often these mongrels sleep in the middle of the street oblivious to cars and motorbikes. They barely lift their head when a truck drives within inches and often lose a leg. The misery of their existence shows in their weary eyes. They often survive on rice and scraps found on sidewalks or on garbage piles. With their diseased, ravaged skin and boney frame, no one dares approach them. The pack hounds represent the other extreme. Dogs are territorial and will defend their turf aggressively. Cyclists and runners arm themselves with everything from sticks to ammonia to defend against the rabies-infested creatures.

I’ve heard every explanation for their ferocious behavior: that they confuse cyclists for horses which triggers their hunting instincts; that runners/foreigners smell different. Regardless of the reason, the moment a bloody, scabby dog barks and bears his teeth, you had better protect yourself.

The solutions are few.

Because Buddhism teaches respect for all life, Thais often bring dogs to the temples in the belief that the monks and nuns will take care of them. They do what they can. Sick-looking mutts of all shapes and sizes freely roam most temple grounds. These “temple dogs” live a little better.

In Hua Hin, more than 2,000 dogs are cared for at a dog shelter created in 2003 by the King of Thailand who has a summer residence there.

Dog shelter

Photograph by Henrik Hoberg.

dog shelter 2

Photograph by Henrik Hoberg.

















Volunteers with organizations such as Project Street Dogs (http://www.streetdogshuahin.com/eng/)  dedicate themselves to caring for these unwanted animals. They feed them and raise funds for neutering and vaccination.

Photograph courtesy of Project Street Dogs Hua Hin

Photograph courtesy of Project Street Dogs Hua Hin.

Photograph courtesy of Project Street Dogs in Hua Hin.

Photograph courtesy of Project Street Dogs in Hua Hin.












They nurture the untouchables back to basic health and try to find them homes.

Photograph by Henrik Hoberg

Before Gypsy was adopted. Photograph by Henrik Hoberg.

Gypsy after

After Gypsy was adopted. Photograph by Henrik Hoberg.

Education, as always, offers the long-term solution. Animal lovers teach monks and nuns to apply flea powder to their four-legged guests. School teachers instruct children about the responsibilities of being a dog owner. Volunteers educate people on what to feed the mutts and how to detect rabies.

monks with dog (2)

Photograph courtesy of Project Street Dogs Hua Hin.

Still, I can’t help but be disturbed by the appearance of pet stores offering toys and upscale luxury doggy items. On the beach, homeless dogs now sniff “dolled up” pooches until their owners arrive in a panic to save them.

How do we encourage people to adopt the dogs that need care and healing, instead of promoting more breeding?

Photograph by Henrik

Please take me home. Photograph by Henrik Hoberg.



  1. Debika says:

    As an animal lover, it’s painful to see these problems around the world. Fantastic post, Chantal.

  2. William says:

    Yes, people here will drop unwanted dogs at a Thai temple for the monks to care for.
    So why don’t people in the US drop dogs off at church for the priests to care for?

  3. Scott Cosman says:

    I am convinced a solution lies in the natural acts of compassion arising from the elevated & growing outlook that animals are here WITH us not FOR us.

  4. Gerry Lantz says:

    Sad,sad story. Well documented w photos.

    All levels if got must make a commitment.

  5. Wil Colón says:

    Thailand is not unique on this. My beloved Puerto Rico is rife with “perros realengos”

  6. Carly says:

    Margo and I almost adopted a dog from Lanta Animal Welfare. They have a Thai cooking school and restaurant on the island where all the profit goes to support the animal shelter. It’s really noble. It’s called Time for Lime. Recommended. 🙂

  7. Your story about the stray dogs…so good and so treu.
    We do our best to help so much as possible these poor stray dogs.

    Attached a short documentary from 2013 about Project Street Dogs Hua Hin Thailand.

    1)A small documentary about Project Street Dogs Hua Hin Thailand: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D06Ftfk3Xxc
    2) A movie from Project Street Dogs about street doggie Jenny: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WdPV2_uX2K8


    Kindest Regards,
    Marlie Timmermans
    Founder Project Street Dogs Thailand

  8. Toppy says:

    A dog is the lovely and honesty pet. They can be the close friend but some people effort get rid of and lend to the problem.
    And this is nice story .

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