*Warning: ultra-cute puppy photos in this post!
A dear friend, a dedicated animal activist, asked me about the treatment of animals in Thailand. I recall from my previous trip back to South East Asia that animals were not treated particularly well. But now, it seems to be a different story.
Dogs are carried in purses, and cats wear jackets. They are taken everywhere with the family, even on the back of motorbikes. One of our favourite cafes in Chiang Mai, the Funky Dog Cafe, was named after the owner’s favourite puppy. Even the dogs at the random backwater bus stations have seemed cared for. The American-style treatment of pets has arrived in Thailand, albeit to a lesser degree (most Thais don’t have $100 to burn on a diamonte-encrusted collar).
I still can’t ignore the fact that there are many animals being mistreated, particularly in the hunt for the tourist dollar. I actively chose not to ride the elephants, or cuddle a drugged-up tiger and I am happy with my choices.
But yes, there’s still a significant number of mangy street dogs, but far fewer than in memory. And many of them seem to have taken refuge in the grounds of the temples. There, they are fed and cared for by the monks. It’s nice to see.
Buddhists try to show kindness to all beings, and this includes animals. However, they believe that souls who are carrying misdeeds from their past life are reincarnated as animals. Animals cannot engage in acts of self-improvements, they are destined to be reborn as animals until their bad karma is exhausted.