I came to live in Chiang Mai two years ago after being in Phuket for seven years. My time in the south of Thailand is a blur of struggling to earn enough money to survive and gradually devoting more and more time to caring for dogs and cats. As an animal lover, it was impossible for me to turn a blind eye to the needs of the dogs and cats that seemed caught in a never ending circle of being dumped, and then often killed by poisoning or other means because that was – and still is – a common Thai way of dealing with.
In Phuket, I worked with Soi Dog Foundation who supported my efforts to take as many animals as I could for sterilization and also to provide regular medication for those that needed it. After the tsunami my commitment became really intense as a very good friend was killed on that terrible day. Leone Cosens had selflessly looked after hundreds of dogs in the south of Phuket for about ten years and on the final day of her cremation ceremony I suddenly realized that I was the only person able and willing to take over her responsibilities. I felt that it would be very important to Leone that not only the dogs were taken care of, but also a poor Thai family who Leone had paid out of her own pocket to help her with the dogs. Thankfully, generous donations from overseas made it possible for Mr. Nok to be employed by SDF as a dog catcher and some money was to be paid to his wife to help her continue the feeding programme that Leone had set up.
After three years of trying to keep up with the situation in the constantly steamy heat my health had begun to suffer and I decided that the best thing for me was to move to the relatively cooler north of Thailand. Phuket had also become a concrete jungle that I didn’t want to live in anymore.
Once I had settled into my new life in a village twelve kilometers from the centre of Chiang Mai, I knew that I could never ignore the local animals who needed help. However, I also knew that I could never throw myself into it in the same way I had in Phuket.
A reasonably happy medium was reached by my decision to do one vet run every week or two with three animals from my village to get them sterilized. Care for Dogs agreed to pay the costs of the operations and I am able to supply some extra food and medicine from my own pocket. This part time effort has allowed me to get to know many people in my neighbourhood and I know that most of them appreciate the fact that they can have their animals sterilized.
I was sad to see that people in the north of the country don’t appear to treat their dogs and cats any better than their counterparts in the south. Poisoning happens here too, and I’ve had to make emergency runs to vets with animals that have been run over and some of these from temples where despite being busy with people, many just ‘turn a blind eye’ to their suffering.
As long as I can occasionally take distance from it all and do other things with my life, I’m glad to be able to offer some help. I certainly couldn’t live with myself if I did nothing