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A Year Around The World

The Dog Days of Bangkok

THAILAND | Thursday, 9 April 2015 | Views [640]

I don’t have a lot of insightful things say about Bangkok. Much like Singapore, it wasn’t a sightseeing stop. After weeks spent in Cambodia and Laos and with weeks in Sri Lanka on the immediate horizon, Bangkok was more of a catch your breath and get things done stop. Therefore, I won’t write about Bangkok right now, especially since I’ll be traveling more extensively in Thailand later in my trip. 


Instead, I’m going to write about something a little different. I’ve been traveling for three months now. About half that time has been spent in Southeast Asia. I have observed many things, both strange and beautiful, during my stint in Asia, and I have really enjoyed being immersed in cultures so different from my own . That being said, there is no doubt that many of the memories I have formed during my travels will fade over time. As years pass, place names will be forgotten. One temple will blend into another. People I spent days with may never cross my mind again. 


However, there is at least one memory I doubt I’ll forget. A few days ago, I saw a young dog that from a distance looked as though somebody had painted it bright pink. It was only when I drew closer that I realized that the poor creature was suffering from a massive skin infection that reddened his body, leaving only a few patches of scraggly fur. 


The plight of stray dogs in this area of the world is heartbreaking. Stray dogs reside in almost almost every village, town and city. They are often semi-feral dogs living at the outskirts of human communities, eking out an existence by feeding on human garbage. They sleep in ditches and busy roads. The majority are wracked with diseases like fleas and worms. Many are injured through accidents or human abuse. They are never spayed or neutered, causing massive overpopulation.  


You want to help these dogs, to pet them, hug them or at least scratch behind their ears, but you know you can’t because their rabies rates are so high. The World Health Organization estimates that there are more than 200 million stray dogs worldwide and that every year, 55,000 people die from rabies, mostly due to transmission from rabid dogs. 


My best friend in the US recently adopted a shelter dog. When I see the pictures and hear about the joy that dog has brought to his life, it makes me think of how much dogs, and pets in general, contribute to the lives of humans. I know that many of the countries I have visited are extremely poor and that the welfare of animals falls low on the priority list when you’re trying to feed a family. However, we were responsible for domesticating these animals, and I think we owe them a dignified life, free of painful and debilitating deceases, which are often easily preventable.


There are some good nonprofit organizations tasked with protecting our pets. Besides the obvious ones like the Humane Society and the ASPCA, there are organizations like one in Bali called the Bali Animal Welfare Association (www.Bawa.com) that are dedicated to the eradication of rabies in developing nations. I would encourage all my readers to donate to these worthwhile organizations.




Tags: animals, bali, bangkok, dogs, pets, rabies, strays, thailand

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