More than one hundred free-ranging dogs are living in Chiang Mai University’s campus area, either independently in public space or in co-existence with various departments. There are both friendly and unfriendly dogs, and the unfriendly ones which cannot be tamed tend to cause public health and safety problems such as injuries, fear of aggressive behaviours, noise, poor hygiene and more importantly, transmission of diseases such as rabies to human beings. Moreover, their population increase cannot be controlled as sterilisation cannot be performed. The ‘Set Zero’ policy, designed to suit the CMU context, does not in any way aim to reduce the population to zero but what it is set out to turn stray dogs into community dogs, giving rise to the MaCMU (DogCMU) Project).
Based on the results from discussions and studies, the sustainable solution to dog-related problems in CMU does not lie in the elimination of their population from the area because eventually dogs from other areas would naturally migrate and replace the ones that have moved out. Thus, systematic dog management to promote better care and peaceful co-existence with the community is initiated under the MaCMU Project, operated by the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and the Office of the University. This project encourages cooperation from all parties in the University to create a community dog-friendly university with an established database on dog management in public spheres that would be developed into a centre for rabies study and dog management in the future.
The project starts with planting microchips for compiling records, injecting rabies vaccines, providing health and blood examinations, performing sterilisation and taming. Each dog wears a collar with a colour symbol and there are three colours indicating the level of friendliness – green means that the dogs are safe to play with, yellow means that they only allow certain people to touch them and people should take precautions and read means that they are dangerous to stay close to and are waiting to be tamed, Dogs without collars are those that the team have not been able to take into the project. The three-colour-collar initiative has been adopted by the Mae Klong Market Community Dogs Project in Samut Songkhram to deal with street dogs in the public spheres.
With the MaCMU Project, the veterinary medicine profession has offered a great service to the public, and the staff, students and other personnel who care about the well-being of these free-ranging dogs have contributed greatly to the success of this project. The long-term goal of this project is to apply the model to other communities in Chiang Mai, creating the ‘Chiang Mai Model’ that would promote peaceful co-existence between humans and dogs in other areas with the approach of sustainable community engagement.
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