From our hands to their paws: Help Chiang Mai’s street dogs

Thailand has a street dog problem, meet the Hand to Paw organisation which is helping them out

By | Mon 27 Sep 2021

Earlier this month, you may have seen the story about a lost dog, ‘George’ who had just moved to Chiang Mai ahead of his person. While his mamma, Nanta was completing quarantine in Chiang Rai, he got out of his new home at Nanta’s family home, and seemingly ran along the river, making his way to Lamphun where, thanks to the incredible determination of his mamma, and the community that she immobilised, he was found safe and retuned home. For some reason, that story took on a fervor, everywhere I went, people were talking about and looking for George, I myself spent two full days and evenings, scouring the streets for him, reorienting myself to Chiang Mai, after having just finishing my own reentry and quarantine in the Phuket Sandbox. Perhaps it’s the precarious times we find ourselves in, or the fact that so many of us have been ‘stuck’ in one way or another over the last year and a half or the fact that so many things seem helpless and hopeless in current times, that finding this dog, gave us a purpose, something we could make right.

While finding George gave me a great sigh of relief, the search also brought me great sadness. As I drove and walked around markets, back alleys, large fields and abandoned building lots, I came across countless numbers of ‘street dogs’ who were vastly uncared for, and suffering. At one point I was on the side of the highway, cajoling a George lookalike to get into my car, until I got confirmation that it wasn’t him. I was so overcome with emotion as I left that dog there, because no one was looking for him, or out for him, no one was missing him and he would probably never know a home or care. There are thousands of unwanted, uncared for animals on our streets, and not nearly enough shelters or charities to help them all. Besides giving the odd donation towards a case in need and perhaps fostering a dog or cat to get them ready for adoption, I wanted to know what more I could do, what we all could do as a community to help ease this suffering and support those already doing this difficult work. I reached out to Amandine from ‘Hand to Paw’ who is perhaps the best versed on what is going on in the streets with these unhoused animals. She runs weekly sterilisatipn clinics and sterilises about 2,500 animals annually; you can do the math to see what a huge difference that makes. She is also often called when there is an emergency, an animal ill with cancer, or other disease, a hit and run, or a dog with a jar stuck on it’s head that no one else can approach, that’s the case she was off to save the morning we met. Besides these emergency cases and mass sterilisation, Hand to Paw runs programmes to educate school kids about how to approach dogs, supports the temple monks with education, food and medicine to treat the animals left in their care, assists with adoptions and so much more. They also have some long-term volunteers who dedicate themselves to checking back up on special cases to track progress or shortfalls. I know I often see posts in our local facebook groups about an animal in need, asking who to call, how to get help. A lot of us think the best way to help is to ‘call the right people.’ But, in speaking to Amandine, it became apparent that the best thing we can do, is to learn how to take responsibility for the cases that we see ourselves and arm ourselves with the information and basic kit to be able to make real change in the streets. Amandine points out that, “dogs in Thailand don’t have it easy. They risk poisoning, Parvo and Distemper virus, hunger, attacks by others, flea infestations, snake bites, and absolute neglect. Street dogs are unseen and often people think: ‘it’s not my dog, it’s not my responsibility.’”

What really drew me to Amandine is that while she is out there tirelessly rushing from emergency to emergency, she also encourages others to empower themselves to help. She made a post a while back about the things you can carry on you to make a huge difference in an animal’s life; a deworming med, flea and tick meds and other items that don’t cost much but could greatly change the life of an animal who was sick with mange and parasites. She elaborated when we met, that a dog that looks cleaner, that isn’t scratching and writhing will not only feel better but get a better response from those around it, is more likely to be fed and not shoed away, will get socialised, and therefore more likely to lead a healthier, happier life. Imagine, if we all armed ourselves with these kits and went around treating the dogs in our own neighborhood,

local shop, communities, how many animals we could help! Just by taking some of the responsibility on ourselves, we could make a huge impact too! Luckily, Amandine is ready to help us, help them. She has set up a first workshop 9 Oct. at 2pm at Free Bird Café, where she will discuss the issues faced by unhoused animals in our city and exactly how we can help. Each person will leave the workshop armed with a kit to keep on their moto or car that can literally change lives. Now, if you are unable to attend the workshop and still want to help, donations directly to Hand to Paw are always welcome and the staff and volunteers take no salary, so all monies go directly to saving animals lives. Please, donate generously or sign up for monthly bank drafts so that they can rely on your support into the future.

To send donations of funds

  • You can use PAYPAL:
  • You can transfer funds to this Thai account: Bangkok Bank account number 531-078562-0 (for international bank transfers, or offer the best rates)
  • You can transfer funds to this USA bank account: Bank of America Account #0806815391

Routing number is 121000358

All donations will be acknowledged on the Hand To Paw facebook page unless otherwise requested (if you’d rather stay anonymous, let her know).

I’ll leave you with this heartfelt quote from Amandine, “We have the ability to change their lives dramatically, why wouldn’t we? If everyone did a little more, we could make a big impact.” Will you join us? And by the way, they did save that dog with the jar stuck on it’s head, tracked him down, blow darted him, removed the jar, gave him meds, fluids, and restored him to health. How amazing is that?