Recently I was lucky enough to visit Myanmar. The tourist floodgates have opened into the genuinely amicable and hospitable welcoming arms of the local people, living in incredible landscapes and towns interjected only by smatterings of stunningly awe-inspiring pagodas. Myanmar, also known as Burma, has for many years remained isolated, self-imposed by leading military dictatorship. As it now moves down the difficult path to democracy, restrictions have been lifted and international trade and tourism is beginning to boom, seemingly welcomed by the Myanmar people. Every street has a sense of joyful hustle and bustle, with markets and street trade roaring, catering for locals and tourists alike.
Amid this enjoyable chaos, dogs and cats are plentiful with breeding unchecked they wander in droves aimlessly around the towns, pagodas and monasteries alike. Their lack of fear and gentle nature suggests they are mostly treated well. Indeed we observed monks sharing their lunches with stray dogs who sat patiently in the shadows while the cats not far behind waiting their turn. However It would be mendacious to say that the mainly Buddhist-wide culture resulted in strong welfare ethics as the "leave them be" attitude has also resulted in the majority of these street dogs and cats looking malnourished, injured and flea bitten, with pups galore galloping along busy main roads, street-wise but an unknown fate ahead of them. With many dogs approaching wary tourists for food, it is an inevitable that after the first few dog-related tourist injuries a culling program will be issued which I fear would be anything but humane. Our guide also mentioned an increase in dog trafficking to China to feed (literally) the dog meat trade over there. Noting my horror at this, he merely shrugged and suggested it was a good way of keeping the numbers down, hardly the ethical solution I was hoping to such a problem.