Bangkok's Stray Dogs

 

Thailand is the Land of Smiles and Bangkok is the City of Angels (literal translation of its name in Thai language).

Unfortunately, Bangkok is also a city of dogs. A lot of free roaming dogs can make life just a bit unpleasant at times. It is not clear at all if some of the dogs have a rightful owner or not, or whether anybody is responsible for them.
You will not see that many dogs along Bangkok's main roads. But if you wander down any of the sois off the main roads, things change dramatically. Dog are often just lying about on the walkways, oblivious to any pedestrian. They are used to a lot of people passing by, and do not bother them. There are exceptions though : Cyclists are apparently confused with horses, and can rejuvenate the hunting instinct of dogs. We also saw the 'smelly' homeless people are regularly set upon by dogs.

Years back, we had an 'episode' when we cycled regularly through Sukhumvit Road's back streets, but we gave up on it, one of the reasons being that we were often chased by barking dogs. This is not a pleasant experience at all, and easily can give you a flutter.

Dogs lying about the pavement in the sidestreets is one thing. It can get a little bit more tricky in any location resembling an open space. Dogs are territorial animals. Nevertheless, large packs of them can be living together, with the occasional fight for dominance. Close to where I live, we know at least two locations where dogs congregate and can become a menace. One is the large Thailand Tobacco Monopoly compound along the even sois of Sukhumvit Road. The other the 'campus' of Srinakarin Wirot University at the end of Soi 23, Sukhumvit Road.

We used to cycle at the Tobacco Monopoly for a few months. The guards do not like it at all, and erect all kinds of barriers, limited free access to some of the many road there (otherwise it has little car traffic, and some long good stretches). But we had to retreat to nearby Benjakitti Park where there is a proper cycling track (and jogging track), and no dogs are allowed inside the park.

In the morning, we take our morning walk (recommended for everybody), and we used to also stroll through the Srinakarin Wirot campus. But is became a bit too hazardous during the weekend days, when fewer people are around, and the dogs (animals not known for their intelligence) are easily stirred into giving chase. We also had a few times a dog sneaking up on us without barking, which can be even more dangerous. So no more walks there. We have been told that no less than 150 dogs are wandering about at the university. Maybe the noise and pollution of the construction work going on about the place, has put the dogs on edge.

Rabies is still very much present in Thailand. A quick search reveals about 30 human cases (invariably fatal) per year during the 2000-2004 period. Even more worrisome is that no less than 300 dogs tested positive for rabies in 2004 alone. Luckily, the number of infected dogs and humans has decreased substantially over the last few decades. Rabies vaccination of dogs (if they have an owner) is highly recommended (but maybe somewhat costly for low-wage dog owners), and is imperative for people bitten by a dog, since the disease, once you have it, is fatal.
We certainly would like to see all dogs in Bangkok and thailand vaccinated for rabies. But simply limiting the number of free roaming dogs along public places, would be helpful in this matter.

For your information, there a quite a number of organizations taking care of stray animals.