NEWS/VIEWS – THAILAND: My friend Barry who is married to a Thai woman and who visits Thailand frequently told me that it is not uncommon for Thai cat owners to abandon their unwanted cats at one of the Buddhist temples where they believe the monks will care for the cats. There are 40,000 temples in Thailand. The idea is that the temple acts as a sort of cat shelter. Only is does not work out like that. Apparently stray dogs sometimes attack the cats and as expected they are no facilities for caring for unwanted cats.
Inline with this culture there is an interesting news item today about a woman caught on camera throwing bags containing five cats over a high wall surrounding the Wat Pho Buddhist temple complex in the Phra Nakhon District, Bangkok, Thailand. It is directly south of the Grand Palace. The temple complex looks impressively large.
A CCTV camera captured the woman arriving around 7 pm last Sunday. The security camera pictures are clear. She was wearing a balaclava (to hide her identity?). She stepped out of her pickup truck and threw the bags into the temple complex. She was reported to the local police by temple staff. It seems that once again online social media played a part in her arrest.
She was tracked down through her vehicle’s license plate. She was charged with a crime under, I presume, the country’s animal welfare laws, convicted and fined THB10,000 (US$310). She had told police that she could not afford to look after the cats and had an allergy so she gifted them to the temple! Nice. Her crimimal conviction interests me as this method of getting rid of cats seems to be accepted in certain places. There are certainly enough temples where it can be done.
The cats have been taken in by an animal charity, The Voice Foundation, who posted a thank you online:
Thank you to the power of social media. This is the example of abandoning pets and pushing the burden to temples. If you aren’t ready, please don’t adopt a pet. And if you cannot take care of them anymore, you should find a home for them, not abandon them like this…
The cats were unneutered which explains why the woman got in the pickle she did. Carelessness I am afraid over spaying and neutering. It is vital to have it done as soon as the vet says it can be done. And I am sure this habit of dumping cats at temples needs to stop.