This story made me smile :-) 

No need to start up another animal discussion, just thought I’d share it with 



A Buddhist <>  
lesson in pet care


< >


A Buddhist lesson in pet care

by Eric Beauchemin



Temple at Chiang Mai

It's estimated that there are between 60,000 and 100,000 stray dogs and cats in 
Chiang Mai, Thailand's second largest city. Many of them have been dumped by 
their owners because they are suffering from disease or the owners can no 
longer take care of them.


These strays roam the city's streets or are left at one of Chiang Mai's many 
Buddhist temples, where people hope the animals will be taken care of. But the 
stray animal population is growing so quickly that the monks and nuns can no 
longer cope.


Two and a half years ago, a group of Westerners and Thais set up the Lanna Dog 
Rescue Project. The volunteers go around the city and visit temples to collect 
sick animals. They then take them to one of the local vets for treatment.


They also have the animals sterilised to try to reduce the population of stray 
dogs and cats. After being treated, animals in need of additional care are 
taken to a shelter where they remain until they have recovered. Then the 
volunteers take the animals back to the temples.



It may seem rather strange in a relatively poor country like Thailand to be 
paying so much attention to cats and dogs, but according to Roshan Dhunjiboy, 
it has to do with Buddhist philosophy. "There's a principle called metta which 
means love for every single living thing, from a blade of grass to your husband 
or your lover. And I think we are practising metta, at least I am as a 


Many people drop their pets off at Buddhist temples because they believe that 
the grounds are sacred and that is where metta is being practised.  According 
to Otome Klein, another of the group's volunteers: "People who live near 
temples know that if they give the dogs or cats to the monks and nuns, they 
will probably be taken care of. But nowadays there are simply too many animals, 
many of them sick, arriving at the temples."



sick cat Thailand

A sick cat waits to be taken to see the vet

Putting animals to sleep

The animal owners cannot put their pets to sleep because it goes against one of 
the main precepts of Buddhism: though shall not kill. "We have great 
difficulty," says Dhunjiboy.


"When we have very sick animals to even find a vet who will do it. We had the 
case of a darling little puppy called Ton who had cerebral distemper and was 
suffering for five months, and we wanted to put him down, but the monastery 
wouldn't do it, and so he died naturally just a month ago."


Many of the volunteers joined the project because of their love for animals. 
Half of them are Westerners and the other half are Thais. The volunteers are 
able to raise about 100,000 Baht - that's a little over €2000 - a month. The 
money is spent on the medical costs, a shelter, vet care and neutering the 


Why not use the money to help poor Thais?

It's a question which the volunteers frequently hear, says Dhunjiboy. "Actually 
we are doing both because through this work with animals, we get to see the 
poor people who are otherwise invisible. The animals we deal with are the 
animals in temples, the animals on the streets, and the animals of poor people. 
You will find people in the slums here who have about eight children and about 
11 dogs. And they all are hungry and they are all not looked after, so we help 
them by helping the animals and they love their animals. We teach them how to 
keep them healthy and clean and the children I think profit from that too in 
the end."


volunteers with cage

Voltunteers Mimi Saechoo (right) and Roshan Dhunjiboy (left) carrying a cage to 
take animals to the vet

Since the project started two and a half years ago, the volunteers have been 
getting increasing support from local people. "We never do anything without the 
permission of the community," says Dhunjiboy.


"Because the communities are very well organised around the temples. For 
instance we had a mass sterilisation project just last month where we 
sterilized in four days 103 dogs and cats, and that was arranged by the 
community. They completely arranged it for us. We just brought the doctors. The 
more you involve them in this, the more they begin to realise that this is 
something beneficial for themselves and not only for us or for the animals, but 
for the whole community."


Even the poor

More and more Thais, even poor people, are trying to help these animals. Some 
of them go around on bicycles and feed up to 100 dogs a day! "They boil rice," 
says Klein, "they go around with a big pot mixed with some chicken meat and 
they distribute it every day in this stall or maybe in that little temple." 
Dhunjiboy, who comes from Pakistan, finds it amazing.  "You will find sick dogs 
here in Thailand, but you will hardly ever find a starving dog, the way you 
will find in India or Pakistan. People feed them. They may feed them badly 
because they have nothing else than pure rice to give them, but they will feed 
them. I think there is a basis there in Buddhism and this is one of the 
expressions of it. We have to care."





jasmin, 06-02-2006 - India 

This is what compassion is all about , and it feels really good to know that 
the sick animals are being taken care of. According to Hindu Philosphy, every 
atom has God in it and specific animals and plants have always been shown 
reverence in India. But I would like to disagree with Dhunjiboy on his 
observation that dogs are starved in India. Here in Punjab, you will never find 
a starved dog. Though I can't be emphatic of my point in other states as it 
depends on the economic status of the people of that region and not deliberate 


Niles Willits-Spolin, 04-02-2006 - USA 

This is heartening. As His Holiness The Dalai Lama has said, "The whole of 
humanity is�?�one human family. This planet is our only home." All beings, 
cats, dogs---all living things that have perception, are to be treated like 
they were our mothers in a past life. When the difference (illusory) between us 
and them vanishes through meditative insight, and e practice loving kindness, 
then the duality between subject and object disappears and our true 
interdependent nature becomes clear to us. At that point, caring for animals is 
no different than caring for ourselves. This is the way to happiness and a good 
















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