Dr Suchon Jittanon, 58, is a Krabi native. After earning a degree in Veterinary Medicine from Kasetsart University, he ran his own veterinary clinic in Bangkok until 1997. After that he moved to Phuket and opened another veterinary clinic, the Phuket Animal Hospital in Chalong.
Here, he talks about caring for abandoned pets and urges people to think carefully before becoming pet owners.
PHUKET: Fortunately, animal abandonment is not a big problem in Phuket. However, the number of abandoned pets on the island has increased recently. More and more people, both Thais and foreigners, bring cats or dogs to my hospital to ask us to find the animals a home.
In some cases, people find an animal on the street or at a temple and cannot keep it because their home is not appropriate for a pet, or they already have a pet and canít handle another one.
Sometimes people bring their own animals to us because they donít like them anymore, maybe because theyíre old and therefore no longer cute.
Other times people bring their pets here because they are moving away to work in another province or are going back to their home countries.
My hospital is not big. There are times when we really donít have the space for any more animals and we have to tell people we canít accept their pets. But then they tell us that they are going to abandon them by the side of the road, and we just canít let that happen, so we do our best to find a way to accept them and take care of them.
But itís getting harder and harder for us to care for them all. In some cases, people bring sick abandoned animals to us. We care for them until they are well, then we have to ask the people who brought them to take them back or to find a home for them, because we canít keep them.
The cost of food alone for abandoned cats and dogs we take in is almost 10,000 baht a month.
The best way to decrease the number of abandoned animals is for owners to think deeply before they get a pet. The decision to get an animal is not something to be taken lightly. An adorable puppy or a cute kitten can tug at our heartstrings but in the end, it will require a great investment of time and money for a great number of years.
The first thing to consider is place. You have to be sure that you have an appropriate place for your pet to live. Will your animal have enough space to run and play? Also, make sure that your dog or cat wonít annoy your neighbors if you live in a crowded neighborhood.
Second, think about the future. Keeping a pet is a long-term responsibility, not just something you do today and tomorrow. If you are originally from another province or another country and you plan to travel back to your hometown some day, ask yourself what you are going to do with your pet when that time comes. If you donít have a plan besides leaving it on the street or at a temple, itís better that you not get one.
Third, money does matter. Keeping a pet can cost a lot of money. First of all because itís a long-term relationship, and then because as your pet gets older, it will eat more, and as it gets very old, it will likely require more care and medical treatment.
Last, think about how much time you have to offer your pet. Pets want love, care and ďquality timeĒ from their owners. If you doubt you can provide all this, then you are not ready to have a pet.
Anyone interested in adopting an abandoned cat or dog, or making a donation toward their care, can stop by the Phuket Animal Hospital or call 076-222362.