Years ago, when I went to Sangkhlaburi (Thailand) for work (I gave a training on para-professional counseling on behalf of my organization then, Stairway Foundation), one thing I noticed was the number of street dogs roaming around the small town.
Yes, the Philippines also has a problem with stray animals, but it was especially prevalent in Sangkhlaburi.
When my colleague and I would walk from our hotel to the wooden bridge, for example, we would be followed by hordes of dogs. Most were friendly, of course, but the fact that there were so many of them was quite alarming.
I have since learned that stray dogs have indeed become a serious problem in Thailand. The country is filled with abandoned dogs of all sizes and shapes, and you can usually find them in major streets, alleys, and beaches in search of shelter and food.
The problem multiplies when these dogs (poor babies!) get sick or injured, or become infested by fleas!
Fortunately, there are small groups of dedicated individuals who have decided to devote their time, money, and energy into helping these animals. One organization I visited was the Baan Unrak Thai Animal Sanctuary in Sangkhlaburi which aims to help animals (not just dogs) by feeding them, sterilizing, and extending medical care.
Founded in 2006 by Gemma Ashford, a British actress and photographer, the Thai Animal Sanctuary is housed on land lent by the Baan Unrak School.
Gemma originally went to Thailand as a volunteer English teacher, but when she saw the plight of the numerous street dogs in Sangkhlaburi, she couldn’t just ignore them. She started feeding them and getting them medical care, using her own savings and donations from family and friends.
Eventually, Gemma built a home in Sangkhlaburi for her and her new companions, and the sanctuary was born.
According to Gemma, the sanctuary relies completely on volunteers, so they are always in need of people who can assist them, especially veterinarians and vet nurses for their sterilization projects and animal treatments. They also need:
- volunteers to walk, groom, and clean the dogs and cats (as well as birds, cows, deer, and even pigs and rabbits!) who are staying there
- volunteers to help them with fundraising, website updating, and volunteer recruitment
- flight volunteers who can accompany animals to their future home (yes, Gemma has sent dogs to the UK for adoption); and
- volunteer translators who can translate information from English into Thai and Burmese.
I was only in Sangkhlaburi for a couple of days last year, so I wasn’t able to do anything other than talk to Gemma and take a look at their facilities. However, I told her that I would do my best to spread the word about their need for funds and volunteers.
Caring for animals in the sanctuary is a full-time job, so it amazes me how Gemma and her volunteers remain steadfast in their struggle to end the suffering of stray animals in Sangkhlaburi. Here’s hoping they can get enough funds to continue their advocacy!
Please donate to the Thai Animal Sanctuary. Even a small amount can go a long way in helping the organization continue their selfless work. Thank you!