Street dogs and cats of Chiang Mai

woman and a dog
Making friends with a temple dog

Improving the lives of Chiang Mai cats and dogs

Green Trails supports HandtoPaw, volunteers who work tirelessly to improve the lives of street and temple dogs and cats in Mae Rim and around Chiang Mai. An American school counselor, called Amandine, runs HandtoPaw with several Thai volunteers. I have followed her activities on social media for quite a long time and decided to support her.

Animals in our life

In the house I grew up in there were always pets and animals. My oldest brother had an aquarium with colorful fish, we had a cat (always only one), rabbits, guinea pigs, and a cage with birds. I didn’t grow up in a family that loved dogs. None of us cared for dogs. In the period I lived alone, I had no time for pets. I traveled almost continuously, which made it impossible to look after animals.

This changed after I met my future wife. She moved into my house, brought her rabbits and soon introduced the first puppy dog. Within one year we cared for four dogs, several cats and a number of rabbits. After that these numbers never went down. We don’t have rabbits anymore but we have a giant pig, ten dogs, three cats and thirty chicken. Most of our dogs are street dogs we have adopted.

Woman with many dogs cats dogs chiang Mai
Temple dogs with volunteer

All animals are equal

In high school, I read Animal Farm, the novel by George Orwell. One of the most famous citations of this book is as follows: “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” The animal farm symbolizes Russia and the betrayal of its revolution but I won’t go further into this, just read the book. It is a fantastic book. I just use Orwell’s citation as a catch phrase because it applies to the real animal world and to the animals in tourism. In short, attention focuses on elephants and tigers but hardly on other animals, that need support as well.

Dogs in an enclosure cats dogs Chiang Mai
Temple dogs in Mae Faek
Woman with puppy dog

Tourism and animal welfare

When I started working as a tourleader in Thailand in 1990 there was little interest in the welfare of animals, involved in tourism. Guests regarded elephant riding as a must-do activity and went to elephant shows. No one questioned these activities in those early years. That began to change though in the new Millennium. The Tiger Kingdom opened in Chiang Mai and became a very controversial tourist attraction. People started to criticize elephant shows and elephant riding and draw attention to the plight of elephants. I welcomed these developments. I prefer that people leave animals where they came from or care for them in a responsible way.

Dogs resting cats dogs Chiang Mai

Animals in tourism

Elephants and tigers in tourism started to make headlines and it was not positive. Both species are threatened with extinction, which is of course not the case with many other animals such as dogs, cats, pigs, and others. I remember there once was a dog show for tourists in the Mae Sa valley near Chiang Mai but I have never been there nor did we ever send guests there.

Street and stray cats and dogs are a big problem, not only in Thailand but in many countries in the world. Green Trails also deeply cares for dogs and cats so it was time to take action.

before and after cats dogs Chiang Mai
Before and after treatment

Green Trails supports Amandine

Street cats are elusive but I have seen very sad situations of dogs in distress in Thailand.  Amandine makes no money with this work and works tiressly to relieve the suffering of these animals. She posts several times a week stories and pictures of her activities. I decided to join her on a trip, which was eye-opening.

I donated a substantial amount of money and joined  Amandine and her volunteer friends of HandtoPaw on September 24 on a visit to a remote temple about 20km from Chiang Mai. One monk lives on a hill with three cats and at least seventeen dogs. Amandine and her volunteers sterilized thirteen dogs and five cats from another temple in the vicinity. They do this kind of trip every weekend.

In September 2020 her team sterilized 56 cats at a temple in Phrao district, Chiang Mai province.

row of cats
Cats at the Phrao temple resting after sterilization
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