Close to three million dogs and cats die every year in U.S. shelters, and millions of stray and unwanted animals are living on the streets. It’s a true epidemic in many parts of the world. While some street dogs are happy, well fed, and healthy, there are some homeless dogs and cats who don’t have adequate shelter, leaving them exposed to the elements. This can be especially dangerous in areas that experience long periods of extreme heat or cold. Their living conditions also make them susceptible to disease, injury, and starvation. And because most stray and unwanted animals aren’t spayed or neutered, populations can quickly get out of control.
For the homeless dogs in Thailand, for instance, there is a black market trade for dogs. Thousands of dogs are trafficked from Thailand to neighboring countries for the meat and leather trades. The dog meat trade has evolved over time into a large-scale, multi-million dollar trade. However, it is largely illegal or unregulated, and outbreaks such as rabies, cholera, and trichinellosis have resulted from the consumption of tainted dog meat.
Hope for Thailand’s Stray Dogs
Thankfully, there are many individual and group efforts to help keep homeless dogs safe and healthy. Groups such as Soi Dog Foundation, a dog rescue organization based in Phuket, are dedicated to helping street animals. Soi Dog Foundation is dedicated to helping the homeless, neglected and abused dogs (and cats) of Thailand. They do this in a whole host of ways but have a specific focus on sterilization as the most effective way to humanely reduce the number of animals in need. The organization also helps to rescue dogs from the horrific meat trade or from being made into leather, treat medical emergencies and other issues, feed animals in need and improve the quality of life in general for the region’s homeless and helpless pets.
And now, Cheil advertising agency, a subsidiary of South Korea’s Samsung Electronics has created a unique invention to help both homeless dogs, as well as the community where they live. The agency has created a “smart vest” that could potentially turn stray dogs in Thailand into guardians of the night. The vest is equipped with a hidden video camera and sensors that transmit live streaming videos when the dog barks, showing what the dog sees through a mobile phone and a computer application.
“It will make people feel that stray dogs can become night-watches for the communities,” Pakornkrit Khantaprap, told Reuters, who is on the creative team.
Thailand introduced the country’s first Animal Welfare Law in late 2014, which penalizes animal abuses with a maximum two years’ imprisonment and a 40,000 baht ($1,205) fine. But still, there are many cases of animal cruelty in Thailand and the “smart vest” invention could help keep dogs out of harm’s way. Cheil advertising agency says more tests are needed before the vest can be introduced into local Thai communities for trial runs.
One local community member notes in the above video that, “Watchdogs are like security 24/7,” with another noting that she “…feels more secure now. I’ll take good care of them.” Seems like these “smart vests” are one viable solution for how street dogs and the local communities can come together and work side by side in unified action.
How You Can Help
You don’t have to invent a “smart vest” to turn stray dogs into watchdogs to help the pet overpopulation crisis. There are many things you can do to join the mission to help show love to strays. You can take a note from these animal lovers in India, and leave fresh water out for them, especially during hot weather. Keep a list of local animal rescues you can call if you happen to see an animal injured or in danger. To help keep the stray populations down, you can partner with a trap, neuter, release (TNR) program or start one of your own if you can. Additionally, help educate your friends and family about stray animals and share this article as a reminder that homeless animals deserve love too.
To find out more about the pet homelessness crisis, and how you can help, visit the links below:
Image source: Cheil Advertising