A Travellerspoint blog

Etti Operation, Round 2, and Mon Fire


Etti continues to pull out his stitches through his incessant fidgeting, scratching and rolling on the muddy ground. It is almost 2 weeks since we operated on him, and his wound is still inflamed and full of liquid, with a gaping hole where his stitches once were.

Today, we sedated him, gave him pain relief and sewed him up again. After adding 6 stitches, we wrapped the dressing so that the tape went around his torso, and we even covered his back left paw with cotton and vet wrap so that his nails weren’t exposed to pull the stitches out when he scratched.

In the evening we had dinner with Dr May - a dentist at the local hospital and supporter of the sanctuary’s work - and some of her colleagues. We ate in a rather large resort along the side of the lake, facing the Mon side. Arriving at 8pm, we could see a massive fire on the other side of the lake. Fires are not uncommon in Thailand, frequently started purposefully as a means to clean up the rubbish. This fire, however, was incredibly large and looked out of control. Other diners were clearly just a puzzled and intrigued as we were. As our party arrived, so did the rumours.

There had been a huge fire at the Temple on the Mon side of Sangklaburi. Believed to have been started by electric pylons, the entire market that occupied the Temple grounds had been burned to the ground.

By about 10pm the fire had been extinguished, the damage won’t be determined until tomorrow. Currently, there is also a festival taking place near the temple grounds, where hundreds of stalls have been set up selling the usual clothing, gimmicks and food. Hundreds are attending this festival, which is spread over the next few days, so it is unsure how the fire has affected the festivities…

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Posted by StreetBitch 18:16 Archived in Thailand Tagged temple dog festival fire sanctuary mon kanchanaburi operation baan_unrak sangklaburi sangkhlaburi etti Comments (0)

'Breaking and Entering' and Visting the Government Offices


The volunteer house is home to those that teach at the Baan Unrak School. When there is a free room, volunteers from the animal sanctuary can sometimes stay there also.

Currently there is a room available, but the keys to access it have been accidentally locked inside by the previous occupant. Without detailing the specifics of how or where we ‘broke in’, let’s just say that Gemma is handy with a broom and in a matter of minutes we were stood the other side of the door with my luggage.

In the afternoon, we went to the local government offices to ask for their support with our sterilization campaign. When asking for the local government’s assistance in the past we have received the typical Thai response – smiles, agreement and promises – when, in reality nothing actually happens. It is a very two-faced culture which does not like conflict. It is therefore a preferred technique to agree to whatever one asks for with no real intention of fulfilling those promises.

Once again, the Thai official agreed to publicise our sterilization project via the usual means in a community where there is such a poor literacy rate – with a car with speakers attached driving up and down the streets informing people of the project. This is also a technique frequently used in elections for candidate campaigns (not so much fun when they wake you up at 6am on a Sunday morning).

The government building was noticeably quiet, I saw perhaps five people there in total. Outside in the car park there is an array of fitness equipment and exercise machines. At first I did not notice them as they looked remarkably like objects you would find in a children’s playground. I guess it makes sense that the Thai Government wants its employees to be fit and healthy, but it was quite comical to see these rusting objects as they had clearly not been used in quite some time – not unlike my exercise bike at home, I have to admit.

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Posted by StreetBitch 18:04 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Knives Over Breakfast


This morning Gemma and I were having breakfast in the market. As I was eating my roti and people watching, I noticed that opposite there was a stall selling knives, swords, axes, machetes and saws.

It’s unbelievable that they are allowed to sell so many lethal weapons on a Sunday market, right inbetween the vegetable stall and the flower buckets. If kids are able to get their hands on such deadly weapons so easily, then it’s no surprise that we encounter so many knife wounds on the dogs.

Posted by StreetBitch 17:59 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Off to the Vets We Go...


6.30am start today as we travelled to the nearest vet hospital in Sai Yok, a 4 hour drive away. Situated about 50km west of Kanchanaburi, Sai Yok is classified as a Wildlife and Livestock Hospital which also treats household pets and street dogs.

The patients that we took with us, and the reasons why we felt that they had to have professional medical attention, are as follows:

‘Bottom’ - has been showing signs of TVT (cancer of the vulva) however, it is questionable whether this is TVT or a severe wound that has become inflamed and infected. Accurate tests are needed to determine the cause.

‘Waterbelly’ – first described to us by his owner as a ‘fat thin dog’, is exactly that. A very peculiar looking canine, he is skinny, with bones protruding along his spine and at his hips, yet has an enlarged belly, filled with water. When taken to the vets a couple of weeks ago, his stomach was drained and he was given some liver supplements. Now the medication has run out and he is back to the size he was before. We are worried as it seems we are treating the symptoms rather than the cause.

‘Sis’ – is the sister of a puppy we treated a few weeks ago for a hernia (we called him ‘Hernie’). We believe ‘Sis’ has a broken leg following a road collision.

‘Annie’ – a cat that was brought into the sanctuary 2 days ago. She has the whitest gums that Gemma and I have ever seen, she is called Annie because we think she is anaemic, she also has trouble eating and often drools when we syringe feed her. Hopefully the vet can tell us what is causing this.

Unfortunately, it seems to be very difficult to make an appointment with Sai Yok animal hospital, whenever we tried to do so the phone just rang unanswered. Therefore, there was no alternative but to set off as early as we could and wait for hours at the hospital until all of our animals were treated.

We arrived in Sai Yok at about 10.30am. Just past midday, the first of our animals was seen. ‘Bottom’ was examined and a swab taken from the infected area to determine whether she had TVT. She is obviously very disturbed and uncomfortable as she keeps licking the area. A couple of maggots fell out during the examination also.

‘Sis’ was next. She was sent for an x-ray which showed that she does have a break, however, it is near the joint and so the vets are hesitant to put pins in it. Without giving any pain relief (which Gemma and I could not believe, and see no reason for) they attempted to manipulate the bone back into place and then wrapped it with a soft bandage. We have to repeat the process ourselves every day in an attempt to re-align the bone. Needless to say, we shall be giving the puppy pain relief to make the experience as least distressing as possible.

Waterbelly’s stomach was syringed again, and the vets seem certain that it is his liver which is causing the problem. We were given liver supplements, doxycycline and iron medication, yet this is frustrating as, again, it seems that they are intent on treating the symptoms rather than the cause.

Lunch was drawing near, and the staff were eager to go have their food, and so we were asked to come back later when they will take a look at Annie the cat. As we had to go to Kanchanaburi to get vet supplies (syringes, needles, medication etc.) and dog food anyways, we decided to do our errands there and come back.

Kanchanaburi (most people would know it as the setting for the historical building of The Bridge Over the River Kwai) is about 45 minutes from Sai Yok. We managed to get most of what we needed whilst we were there and returned to the vet a couple of hours later.

Although they knew that we were coming back and there seemed to be only 4 other people waiting to be seen at the hospital, we were kept waiting for 2 and a half hours for what seemed like minimal diagnosis. Bottom’s results came back and she doesn’t have TVT, it is just a very oddly placed wound and therefore needs cleaning every day.

Annie the cat has leukaemia. They gave us some medicine for her, but it seems like the kind of situation that will prolong her life rather than cure the affliction itself. She is very sick, doesn’t seem to take down her food properly and now the question, is how long can she survive in her current condition before the pain gets too serious for her? None of us want to play ‘God’, but we’ll keep a close eye on this kitty to monitor her progress.

Leaving Sai Yok at 4.30pm 11,000 Thai Baht lighter, we arrived back in Sangklaburi at 8.30pm. Swiftly, we unloaded the truck of animals and supplies and then drove to see one of our usual patients, 'The Vole' who we are treating following an attack from a cat.

Still, our day was not over as we had to administer the usual meds to our patients back at the sanctuary and then, finally, feed the Street Dogs (SDs).

It has been an incredibly long day, as well as a frustrating one. Gemma and I are very excited that we have a volunteer vet arriving next week. Even though it will still be necessary to visit Sai Yok for certain cases – for example, they have equipment such as an x-ray machine which we do not – it will be a comfort to receive some professional medical advice from a source much closer to the animal sanctuary, rather than having to make the 8 hour round trip and coming back sometimes with what seems like some very unsatisfying results.

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Posted by StreetBitch 19:01 Archived in Thailand Tagged animals dog dogs animal shelter hospital kanchanaburi bridge_over_the_river_kwai baan_unrak sangklaburi sangkhlaburi song_kalia sai_yok vet vets Comments (0)

The StreetBitch Code of Diplomacy

Educating the Mons on British Profanity


After taking the dogs for a walk this morning, Gemma and I went to Song Kalia as a little treat after lunch.

About 20 minutes away from Sangklaburi, Song Kalia River is a popular destination for locals at the weekend. We took the motorbike there, with Tigerlily riding in the back with me.

The riverbank is occupied by little wooden huts and places to get food and drink. It really is rather an idyllic place to spend an afternoon, and obviously many agree as you are surrounded by families and kids paddling down the river on rubber rings. The people in the hut next to us were certainly getting ‘jolly’ as they managed to accidentally drop their (what must have been, almost empty) bottle of whisky into the river’s surprisingly quick current.

We stayed for about an hour and a half and then headed off home to the sanctuary.

Later in the afternoon, we went over to the Mon side of Sangklaburi to issue the usual treatments, and also to do the ‘scabies’ rounds. We came across a few severe looking scabies cases, one of which was so bad that his skin looked like an elephant’s. He must have been in a lot of pain, and so we pulled over to try and entice him with some food. However, he ignored these attempts and swiftly limped away from us.

Abruptly, we heard a group of people burst into hysterics. We looked over to the house opposite, and there was a group of men sitting in the porch laughing and pointing at us.

One of the comics was yelling ‘vaccination’ in Thai, indicating that it was his dog we were attempting to help. When Gemma asked him if he was indeed the owner, and could he catch it, he just burst into fits of laughter. It turns out that he had no interest in helping us but wanted to merely mock the white women trying to help a street dog.

By the time the exchange had taken place, the dog had scarpered. Gemma and I were both furious, not only at being mocked (which is something that we are growing accustomed to, this behaviour merely shows their ignorance, not ours) but, because of his distraction and childish attempts to gain our attention, we lost the dog.

Overcome by anger, disgust and humiliation, I called him a ‘wanker’ and gave him ‘the finger’. This was by no means my finest or most dignified moment, but it seemed to suit the occasion rather adequately. Feeling that I could at least educate him in some western sign language, it is a shame that this moron seems incapable of being educated in anything else.

The funny thing is that, for some reason, Gemma and I were both overcome by the same anger that we swore simultaneously at the group of idiots. Whilst neither one of us are strangers to hostile situations, it’s funny how this particular one got to us so much; the reason being that his mocking distraction prevented us from helping a sick dog.

Continuing on our rounds, we drove no more than literally 10 seconds down the road when, once again, we became the focus of some unwanted attention as a group of about 20 residents created an audience to watch us catch another scabies dog.

This time, however, there was a gentleman who claimed he was able to catch the dog (he said he was the owner) and so we gave him a shot of the injection in the hope that he will administer it himself at a later time. One can only hope.

As we were finishing up our rounds and departing the Mon side of the village, we spotted another hairless dog, obviously suffering from scabies. The only fur that remained on this girl was the slightest bit on her forehead. With a particularly sweet disposition, it was not only easy to entice her with some dog biscuits, but administering the vaccine itself was quick and painless. As usual, we made sure to take photos so that we can identify her in 2 weeks’ time when part 2 of the shot has to be given.

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Posted by StreetBitch 18:36 Archived in Thailand Tagged animals dog dogs animal shelter kanchanaburi baan_unrak sangklaburi sangkhlaburi song_kalia Comments (0)

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