Pets are like marriage, both need long-term commitment: veterinarian
If you are thinking about getting a puppy or kitten as a Valentine's Day gift for your loved ones or even for yourself, think twice.
Dogs and cats may appear cute when they are young, but their charm may wear off as they get older, warned Nawaporn Chounpreecha, veterinarian and marketing director of Thonglor International Pet Hospital.
Besides, she said, if the pet is a gift from a boyfriend or girlfriend, it can get easily dumped if the couple splits up, adding that all animals are living beings and have feelings like humans do.
“So instead of just falling in love with their appearance, which can be short-lived, it is better to study the animal you want to adopt,” she said.
According to her, each breed and pedigree has its own distinct personality. Some dogs and cats may be fierce, some can be very sensitive, while others may fall ill easily. These characteristics can pose problems for owners in the long term if they don’t first understand and seek advice on how best to handle them.
Not understanding or being prepared for the pet can result in the owner dumping them by the roadside or temples, she said.
Nawaporn was speaking in response to a survey conducted by the College Management Mahidol University, which revealed that more than 49% of Thais prefer pets to having children, while others said they want a companion to get over their loneliness.
However, the veterinarian pointed out that getting a pet is like getting married – it needs a long-term commitment of more than 10 years at least.
“You must be responsible not just for your pet, but also the community you are bringing the pet into,” she said, adding that the number of Thais raising dogs and cats has grown dramatically in recent years.
Boonpaween Boonmechote, who owns five dogs and two cats, said that apart from giving them love and care, he has to budget every month for their food, vitamins, care products and medical check-ups – which he admits can add up to quite a lot. However, he said, he is willing to pay because they are all part of his family.
“My fatigue vanishes when I return home from work and they are there to greet me,” he said.
Unfortunately, not all Thais share his sentiments. According to the Department of Livestock Development, Thailand will have approximately 1.92 million stray dogs and cats by 2027, with the potential of this rising to 5 million over the next 20 years.
Most of the strays are expected to be in Bangkok, posing a significant problem in terms of hygiene, disease and financial burden on the government.
The most common reasons for cats and dogs being abandoned is the heavy cost of raising them and some owners’ inability to cope with some of their behaviours. Many pets are also abandoned when they get ill or old.
Though the government has been trying to implement a registration system for pet owners since 2018, the rate of pets being abandoned is still alarmingly high.
Experts warn that Thailand needs stricter pet ownership laws, as well as a more defined system of dealing with abandoned animals as Thailand’s pet market grows.
According to the Commerce Ministry’s Department of Business Development, the Thai pet market will grow at an average annual rate of 8.4% to 66.75 billion baht by 2026.
Having pets as a companion should not cause social issues if people think carefully before becoming pet owners, Nawaporn said.