Not only protesters, even pets affected by tear gas in Thailand

THAILAND - Last week, anti-government protesters clashed with police at the Makkawan and Chamai Maruchet Bridge. The police tried to stop protesters from entering the Metropolitan Police Bureau and Government House by using tear gas.

Yesterday morning, a small group of volunteers led by Saipin Phasupong, a committee member of the Society for the Promotion of Animal Welfare under Royal Patronage, surveyed the area - looking for animals suffering from the affects of the gas. They went around Wat Benchamabopit, Wat Sommanat Worawihan and the surrounding communities.

Saipin said that in addition to tear gas, dogs and cats could be easily be frightened by the noise of protesters' whistles, as well as the explosions of the tear gas canisters and firecrackers. He said stray dogs and cats would have the worst time, because there was nowhere for them to hide from the noise and chaos of the protests.

Saipin said the worst case of tear-gas exposure he had come across was in a small white dog called Foremost, who belonged to Yaowarej Poomkajang, a fried banana vendor living near Wat Khae Nang Lerng. Foremost had gone out looking for his owner on Tuesday evening amid the protests, and it was found the next day by Yaowarej wandering around Prince Hotel, blind, with eyes gummed shut.

The vet who treated Foremost at Chulalongkorn Hospital, said that the blindness could be temporary and caused by shock, since preliminary examination did not find any permanent damage. Foremost is now recovering in the Thonglor pet hospital.

At Wat Sommanat Worawihan, a monk at the temple said about 2 to 3 dogs and cats out of the 30 staying at the temple, had died last Tuesday. The affects of the tear gas could be seen on in their eyes. The monk said he suspected that it was not only due to tear gas, but also because of the psychological trauma caused by loud explosions.

There were two more cats in the temple that looked sick with their eyes gummed shut, however Saipin said it could be the symptoms of another illness. The rest of the cats and dogs were healthy and unaffected.

All the cats and dogs at Wat Benchamabopit remained healthy as they had taken shelter at the monk's lodgings in the temple during the protests.