More than two dozen dogs, tied to wheels that support their hind legs, walk on a rocky path for several minutes a day, with tails wagging in a chorus of barks and moans. Almost all of the accident victims, the 27 dogs, receive medical care in an animal shelter in the Thai province of Chonburi, southeast of the capital Bangkok.
“It’s almost like they have no idea they have a disability, and when we put them in the wheelchair for the first time, it’s like there’s no learning curve,” says Christopher Chidichimo, who is in charge of the shelter is.
The shelter, run by a foundation called The Man That Rescues Dogs, was founded by a Swede who moved to Chonburi in 2002 and was so appalled by the poor condition of the stray dogs that he looked after them after work.
The future is in doubt, however, after the new coronavirus pandemic saw donations drop by 40% and the number of overseas visitors. “Donations are very important, and volunteers and visitors are equally important because they come and get our message across,” said Chidichimo, one of the fundraiser’s coordinators at the shelter.
Dogs wait for the daily walk. “They are eager to be ‘arrested’,” says dog handler Phanuphong Borphuak of dog mobility aids. “They run very fast, we humans cannot keep up with them.”
The organization spends more than $ 1,300 a day to care for more than 600 dogs and feed 350 more that live on the streets. Volunteers also care for paralyzed and disabled dogs, including physical therapy sessions, but the scarcity of money has forced us to put off a monthly stray dog sterilization campaign.
According to estimates from 2017, there are over 800,000 stray dogs and cats in Thailand. That number could reach two million in 2027 and five million in the next 20 years unless action is taken to control the numbers, authorities said.