Phra Phayom Kalayano's temple is going to the dogs. Within six months, the monk expects to build a canine condominium that will house a thousand Bangkok strays.
The short-haired soi (street) dogs that wander at will through Bangkok's alleys will take daily walks in a purpose-built garden. And the monks will invite prospective pet owners to select their favourite, for a token donation.
Good Buddhists feed roaming creaturesand there is a cultural reluctance to neuter the dogs, so large packs lounge around public buildings or take shade in city parks.
But over the five-day Songkran holiday last month, some of the dogs grew exceedingly hungry. Nearly 30 mutts mauled Ton Attama, 11, who was walking past Pathumwan Technological Institute. The boy was found unconscious, face down in blood, and is still in hospital.
Donations to Wat Suan Kaew, the stray dog temple, have increased since reports that strays were being beaten and driven away by people who had heard about the boy's horrendous injuries.
Last year, after King Bhumibol Adulyadej adopted a street puppy, Thais snapped up polo shirts embroidered with the boxer-like profile and the King even wrote a book on the dog's antics. And, at the monarch's behest, a government programme has been set up to train the brightest street dogs to help police look for drugs.
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