2,000 stray dogs crammed into Thai shelter amid Covid-19 pandemic

Thai dog shelter where more than 2,000 strays are kept in ‘ridiculously crowded’ cages begs for help to feed their animals amid Covid-19 crisis – but refuses to allow adoptions

  • Auntie Ju’s Shelter for Stray Dogs relies on donors to house 2,000 abandoned canines in Bangkok, Thailand
  • They’ve noted a massive decrease in donations since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus earlier this year
  • The shelter has posted images of the dogs in cramped cages on Facebook to appeal for more contributions  

Cramped tooth and claw in vast cages, hundreds of dogs pass the day sleeping, fighting, or waiting to be fed at a controversial Thai shelter that does not believe in adoptions and blames a drop in donations on the coronavirus.

Launched in 2013, Auntie Ju’s Shelter for Stray Dogs has long relied on donors to feed more than 2,000 stray canines and 300 cats living under their care.

But there has been a massive decrease in donations in recent months, and they have taken to Facebook to appeal to animal lovers with photos of dogs in their crowded facilities. 

Dogs rest in a crowded enclosure at Auntie Ju’s shelter for stray dogs on the outskirts of Bangkok on Monday, where some 1,500 canines rescued from the streets around the Thai capital are being housed

Fights frequently erupt between the animals at Auntie Ju’s shelter outside Bangkok

New arrivals at Aunti Ju’s shelter for stray dogs wait in cafes before being introduced to the general population at the animal sanctuary on the outskirts of Bangkok on Monday, where some 1,500 canines rescued from the streets around the Thai capital are being housed

Dogs rest in a crowded enclosure at Auntie Ju’s shelter for stray dogs on the outskirts of Bangkok on Monday. A caretaker at the dog shelter says they refuse to let new potential owners adopt the dogs because they worry the animals won’t be loved

‘It may be… due to the COVID-19 outbreak that has made people donate less,’ caretaker Yutima Preechasuchart told AFP, during a recent visit to one of its sites in Pathumthani province, about 30 miles from central Bangkok.

Hundreds of dogs are packed into humid rooms behind a rusted fence, where playful fights and territorial clashes happen as the shelter’s employees try to clean the concrete floors with a hose. 

Some suffer from gashes and are kept in small cages, where the staff redress their wounds with gauze. 

A dog with an eye trauma looks through the bars of its cage at Auntie Ju’s shelter for stray dogs on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand on Monday 

Donations of food and money have dramatically decreased since the outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, leaving the some 1,500 dogs being housed in the shelter with little food to survive on. Pictured: The dogs resting in a large cage at Auntie Ju’s animal shelter for stray dogs in Bangkok

An employee hoses down the floor of the large dog cage, which houses hundreds of canines, at Auntie Ju’s shelter for stray dogs on Monday 

A dog peers through the gap in its cage at Auntie Ju’s shelter for stray dogs on the outskirts of Bangkok, Thailand on Monday. Hundreds of dogs are cramped into rusty cages, which can scratch and cut the animals 

The dogs go through more than 60 bags of food daily, costing between 20-30,000 baht a day (£495-£745), Yutima says, but current donations only gets them 30 bags a week.

She defended her shelter’s policy of refusing to adopt them out.

‘We cannot be certain that (the owners) will love them as much as we do,’ she says, and declined to elaborate on what plans her organisation has if they were to completely run out of food. 

A non-profit based in Phuket said the conditions at Aunt Ju’s were ‘ridiculously overcrowded’ and questioned how hygienic the site can be with so many dogs crammed into a single, indoor room. 

A dog looks out from a cage at Auntie Ju’s shelter near Bangkok

Dogs rest in a crowded enclosure at Auntie Ju’s shelter for stray dogs on the outskirts of Bangkok on April 6, 2020, where some 1,500 canines rescued from the streets around the Thai capital are being housed in cramped conditions and rusty cages 

An employee cleans the floor at Auntie Ju’s shelter for stray dogs on the outskirts of Bangkok on Monday as the caged canines look on

‘If you don´t believe in an adoption program… then that’s just hoarding,’ said Soi Dog Foundation’s operations director Sam McElroy.

The foundation — which found homes for more than 900 animals last year — is itself in ‘uncharted waters’, says McElroy, due to the province-wide lockdown to curb the spread of the virus.

Thailand currently has 2,220 cases of coronavirus infections, including 26 deaths.

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