Mae Klong Market: Where people and stray dogs live happily together

There are two kinds of people in this world:

The Pet lovers – The ones who are always happy to be around pets, doesn’t matter if it’s not theirs, doesn’t matter if they are stray, these people just enjoy breathing in the same air as these four legged friends. 

The “Not a fan” – The ones who are not a fan of pets, in particular stray ones. They may not loathe these companion animals but they will keep their distance.

The two kinds of people, as well as the pets themselves, need to find a way to co-exists on this blue planet that we call home but in many communities, there are conflicts instead of peace. 

We may find these paw friends adorable, but many people are just not into pets. It could be a cleanliness and sanitary issue, the fighting or howling between stray animals, or all of the above! Some people just find it hard to trust stray animals because they don’t know what these creatures with fangs are thinking. They’re scared of getting attacked, or are simply just annoyed by these homeless pets. 

This little community in Kanchanaburi found a way to live happily and peacefully with stray animals. Whether or not they’re pet lovers, people of the community at Mae Klong Market (by the famous Talad Rom-Hoop) are co-existing harmoniously with stray dogs.

Nattapong Ngamsanga (Neung), the owner of a flower shop and the founder of “Mae Klongs’ Dog Project ” played an important role in bringing about peace. Neung’s love for pets originated from his days as a Bhikkhu (Buddhist monk). Back then, he lived with many temple dogs and from his experience with those strays,. he decided to adopt his own smart little black lab dog named “Mut-Che”. 

Mut Che loves to carry a basket in his mouth when they go to the market together. This smart black labrador was a super star and made friends with many stray dogs at the market. This led to Neung sharing the love he has for his own lab with other stray dogs by putting his contact info and photo on their collars. If any of these stray dogs ever gets in trouble, people would know who to contact. Neung would step in and take responsibility for that dog and that was the beginning of the “Mae Klong’s Dog Project”.

Although Mut-Che has left this world, Neung’s love for his baby remains through taking care of stray dogs in the community, he became a friend and a father to all of them. If there is a new stray member in the community, they will be sterilized and spayed/neutered as soon as possible. Neung and his team also developed something called the “Collar System”. This helps people in the area identify, at first glance, the personality of each stray dog. Everyone will know which dog they can pet and which one they shouldn’t get close to.

Green, yellow, and red are easy universal colors that are easy to understand. The green collar signifies that everyone can play with these dogs. They’re friendly. If they have yellow collars, they will play with people who they are familiar with. The doggies with red collars are quite aggressive and so you should try not to play with them. 

Mae Klong’s Dog Project aligns everyone who loves or doesn’t love pets and the people in this community function together without feeling disgusted, fearful, or hateful. Although some may not like dogs, they will call the Mae Klong’s Dog Project people if they find a dog in need of help.

In the past few years, Mae Klong’s Dog Project has been supported by public and private organizations. Others are using them as a stray pets management model in other communities, such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai, or the North East region. It helps raise awareness of pet overpopulation, and develops a sense of being responsible pet parents to society. 

Next time you visit Mae Klong Market, before approaching a dog with a vibrant collar, try to understand the story of how all these stray pets and people came to live together harmoniously through the project created by Neung. While you’re there, absorb the pet-friendly atmosphere that this community has created, not just here but for the rest of the world as well. 

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