If the American's love of canine beauty parlours, hotels, clothing, massages and even toilets for dogs appears somewhat eccentric, then the Thais can certainly give them a run for their money. Dog boutiques and shows also abound, and people have been rushing out to buy the latest fashion statement - a range of polo shirts launched by the king featuring a small picture of his pet dog, Thongdaeng. Dogs are in the news in Thailand. But it is not so much the growing obsession with top foreign pedigrees that is hitting the headlines. Instead, it is the mangy street dogs that are grabbing the limelight after a pack of canines attacked and severely injured an 11-year-old boy. The problem of strays is growing. Estimates put the number at 300,000 in the capital. Thais may love dogs, but they do not always look after them very well, says Chaianan Phorkathong, who houses 1,000 at his Animal Lovers Club. In the past, efforts have been made to poison, neuter, or round up the strays, he says, but without success. He advocates a change of attitude among the largely dog-loving public, which has been known to throw its unwanted pets on to the streets. Well-known monk Phra Phayom Kalayano is due to take part in a ceremony to mark the beginning of work on a one million baht (HK$187,000), five-storey home and play area for up to 1,000 stray dogs in Bangkok. The monk says he feels compassion for the animals, which often end up being hit by cars. 'I have a donation box for stray dogs, and one woman donated 100,000 baht,' he says. Others are also doing their bit. The forestry department has recruited strays to help officers patrol the national forests. And two western women have taken to shipping strays to dog lovers in the United States and Europe, with a handful sent so far, according to newspaper columnist Laurie Rosenthal. It is just as well that the dogs have some people looking out for them. Because if they do not get poisoned, run over or shot, they might end up in the back of a truck, heading for Sakon Nakhon in the northeast - the dog-eating capital of Thailand.