A Travellerspoint blog

Looking After The Patients...


Whilst it is relatively quiet here at the animal sanctuary, I thought that I would give you a little run down of our current ‘inpatients’. These guys and girls receive meds and treatments every morning and most evenings.

Our oldest resident who requires medication is Noska. This little girl has really been through the ringer. About a month ago she was found by Gemma and another volunteer at the time, Isa, after she had been hit by a car. One of her eyes had popped out and her bottom jaw was split. She was then taken to the vets at Sai Yok where they removed her eye and sewed her jaw back together. Twice a day we give her eye drops for her other eye which she struggles to see out of. Sadly, we believe her jaw requires wiring as the stiches have not stayed in very well. Hopefully, when our volunteer vet arrives in a few days, she can do this.

Dorri, 6 months old, came into the sanctuary a couple of weeks ago with a broken leg after he, too, was hit by a car. His owners didn’t want to pay the 3,000 Baht (approx. £60) it would cost to repair his leg. Our choice was to either let this puppy suffer, or use the very little funds that are available to us for his operation. We did the latter and today’s the day that his cast is taken off. It has been two weeks since his leg was fixed in the cast and we were nervous to remove it as we didn’t know what lurked beneath…

Disappointing news. Despite the sores, which can easily enough be cleaned and will heal over time, there seemed to be very little feeling in the paw. Time will tell with Dorri’s case; letting the air get to the skin and with an increase in blood circulation, hopefully his paw will begin to function as it should. He still has to wear his collar, which he is about as happy about as our Etti is!

You have already been introduced to the new kid on the block, Etti! Not only did he have a miserable time wearing his dog collar in his cage last night, but he destroyed his surroundings and made sure everyone else got as little sleep as he did. This morning after letting him out of his cage to go to the toilet, we decide to keep him out permanently. He is still wearing his collar (you can see the damage he has caused by trying to remove it) but he’s much happier with this extra bit of freedom. As one of the friendliest dogs here, nothing pleases him more than being stroked behind the ears. And, for all of his big-man attempts to break out of his cage, he is, without a doubt, the biggest wuss when it comes his daily injections!

Currently, we are monitoring two puppies that were brought in separately to the sanctuary. One had been hit by a car and appears to have a broken leg and another looks very weak and hasn’t got much of an appetite. We have put them on drips, are monitoring them and giving them antibiotics and pain relief when needed.

Every morning ‘Waffle’ receives iron supplements and B12 vitamins. Both of Waffle’s back legs are permanently deformed following a car collision. Occasionally, he can stand on one of his back legs, but this is sporadic and so we are giving him physiotherapy as well as these supplements. If these efforts prove futile, then we are also in efforts to obtain a wheelchair for him.

Today we also popped to the local hospital to stock up on a few supplies – mainly saline drips. We used to be able to buy these straight from the pharmacy, but we now have to see a doctor before we can purchase them. The medical staff speak English at the hospital, and Gemma explains to the practitioner that the drips are for the dogs. It seems unnecessary to have to see the doctor for this sort of thing but, on the whole, it was a relatively quick and painless visit to the 'Emergency and Accidental Building', as it is labelled outside.

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Posted by StreetBitch 22:01 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

'Etti', slashed with a machete

SAM_0230.jpgYesterday we went over to Wimalai – a town next to the Burmese border – to find a dog that was reportedly suffering from a severe leg injury at Ban Mai. Along the way we also issued scabies injections and treated minor doggie problems that we came across.

Once we had given out the daily morning medicines, we set off from the sanctuary after breakfast and began the 40 minute journey (via motorbike) through the mountains to Wimalai.

One notable difference between this town and that of Sangklaburi is the scarcity of dogs. This is not due to sterilization. Apparently, there is a fairly large dog meat trade in these parts. Whilst the dog meat trade is illegal in Thailand, there is still an industry for it. It is especially rife near Thailand’s borders where its neighbours continue to see it as something of a delicacy.

We stopped near the entrance to the town when we spotted some dogs with scabies. Once we administered the first dose of medicine – which needs to be repeated in 2 weeks time – the owners requested that we also give the dogs the hormone contraceptive vaccine. This inoculation acts as a contraceptive for those that do not want (to pay money for) their animals to be surgically spayed/ neutered. This drug can be very dangerous, with highly increased chances of causing pyometra and other cancers of the reproductive organs. Yet the alternative, if they are not operated on, is to have even more dogs on the streets – the majority of whom shall die within their first 6 months either through starvation, worms, disease and/ or injury. When ‘owners’ – I use the term lightly – refuse to have their dogs surgically sterilized, this is the disturbing reality we are faced with.

A few houses down, we encountered 4 more scabies cases in somebody’s garden. The women who lived there were very helpful in catching and holding their dogs. Frequently this isn’t the case; often it is felt among Thais that THEY are doing US a favour by treating their sick animals!

Upon entering the local Temple and feeding some of the very thin dogs there, some of young monks in training thought catching the dogs was a game. They laughed when pinning down the animal and were so unnecessarily violent that it is shamefully ironic and hypocritical that they are in training to enter a religious faith that is traditionally meant to care about all living things. More on this topic in a later blog entry, as there is already far too much that I could write on the hypocrisy, corruption and over-indulged ‘Buddhist’ faith in Thailand.

After a few wrong turns, we eventually found Ban Mai – a children’s home – where the reported dog with an injured leg was staying. Skilfully, the children and staff that worked there had dressed him in old shirts so as to prevent the flies from infecting the wound.

Taking the clothing off, we were wary as to what we would find beneath. It was a very deep knife wound, which we now think was caused by somebody brandishing a machete. Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Gemma or I have seen this wound, and it is especially hard to understand why someone would feel the need to do this considering the exceptionally docile nature of this particular dog – even when we examined and cleaned the wound with iodine.

We were also informed about a couple of cats that were ill in the home next to Ban Mai. Because we arrived on the motorbike, we were unable to take all the animals back with us. We therefore returned to Sangklaburi to get the car and go back to collect the injured and sick animals.

Following the tradition of naming our residents at the sanctuary after their ailments, we have named the injured dog ‘Etti’… after his wound from a machete (sound it out and it makes much more sense.)

Today we sedated Etti, gave him a local anaesthetic and closed the wound. Unfortunately we are led to believe he has had the laceration for 3 days and therefore the chances of infection are high. We cleaned it thoroughly and Gemma sewed up the damaged muscle and skin. As a way of preventing him biting/ licking his stiches, Etti is now fashioning a large plastic collar which he already hates.

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Posted by StreetBitch 22:24 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Would you be my Valentine?

Could you provide lots of love for that special someone?


90% of the dogs at the sanctuary are up for adoption. We have an eclectic mix of shapes, sizes and temperaments; each and every one would be perfect for somebody special.

Yesterday we began filming our little Romeos and Juliets that are available for adoption. The films provide an opportunity for people to see the dogs’ characters and interactions with animals and people. Gemma introduces each one and talks about their past, how they came to be at the sanctuary and their individual personalities.

From ‘Three Legs’ who is loving and craves human attention through to 'Potato' who is probably the most positive dog here despite her disability, there are so many to love and care for. Please consider giving one of these the love, security and attention that they all need and long for.

The videos of our day's filming can be found on the Baan Unrak Animal Sanctuary's Facebook page

Sponsorship and volunteering options are also available.

Posted by StreetBitch 20:45 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Lights at the End of the Tunnel

48 hours since leaving my London home and I have arrived in Sangklaburi. There were many moments during my journey that made me want to turn around and fly back to the sub-zero climate of my beloved home. But please don’t fret, I shall merely present you with the ‘highlights’ of a trip that made me seriously question the intellect of man.

Eight hours on the plane to India were painless enough, the ‘fun’ didn’t really begin until we vacated the aeroplane. Prior to my arrival at Mumbai Airport I had heard stories of the chaotic, frustrating and incompetent way in which passengers are ‘directed’ though security control at International Transfers. An hour after standing in what seemed like a never-ending queue, it splits in two. There is no explanation, no sign, no member of staff to illuminate why this is so; the gentleman whose job this is was occupied running back and forth through the crowds yelling ‘Bangkok’ and ‘Hong Kong’ – both of whose flights were due to leave in less than 30 minutes. People were grabbed from the crowd as their flight number was called, and every couple of minutes we were asked to move out of the way as the elderly and some, quite frankly, healthy looking people were advanced through the crowds in wheelchairs to the front of the ever expanding queue.

Seven hours later I was on a flight to Bangkok, and a mere 5 hours later we landed. Foreign passport control is an absolute joke at Suvarnabhumi Airport, two hours of standing around waiting just for somebody to stamp some ink in your passport is inept and lazy. I arrived in the legendary Khao San Road via bus at 5pm.

At 7am the next morning I took a minibus to Kanchanaburi, and from there another minibus to Sangkhlaburi. With this last leg of my journey, I thought the driver was going to commit murder when a young poor pregnant lady was sick in his front passenger seat. Granted, this wasn't pleasant for any of us, but he then proceeded to abruptly pull over, shout, bang doors and insist that she clean it all up herself. The other passengers lent a hand by giving some water and cloth, but this driver was obnoxious, vile and rude.

When I finally arrived at my destination it had just gone lunchtime. Gemma picked me up from the bus station, took me to my homestay at Pon Pone’s and then round the corner to see the dogs that I remember so well from my last visit. There are a couple of new arrivals, as well as a few unfortunate departures. After the epic journey from home these guys and girls (and my bed that I knew was waiting for me) were the light at the end of what seemed like a never-ending tunnel.

Posted by StreetBitch 03:51 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

Floods of Dogs

DSC06388.jpgOctober 2011 saw Thailand engulfed by the worst floods to hit the nation in decades. The hardest affected and most vulnerable were those with the quietest voice; thousands of street dogs and cats were left stranded on the islands and bridges in major cities such as Bangkok and Ayutthaya.

Animal welfare charities (the few that there are in Thailand) were quick to join forces and put together rescue efforts to save those that were marooned. At this time I happened to be volunteering at the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT), situated in the south of the country. This organisation, along with Soi Dog and many other wonderful charities, were successful in saving the lives of more than a thousand street animals.

My time at WFFT was spent mainly looking after the canines that were in our care. All of the dogs that arrived at the centre were sterilized, thus the actual number of animals that were saved as a result of the rescue efforts will, thankfully, never be accurately determined.

After my time at the WFFT I volunteered at the Baan Unrak Animal Sanctuary, located near the Burmese border in the town of Sangkhlaburi. Established in 2007 and run by Gemma Ashford, it is now home to 40 dogs – with this figure continuously fluctuating as more cases are brought in each day.

This week I return to the Baan Unrak Animal Sanctuary to volunteer with the dogs and cats that are taken care of. Challenges arising from the cultural, financial and the geographical difficulties associated with the region will be reported on as this blog looks at what it really means to be a street bitch in rural Thailand.

Posted by StreetBitch 19:35 Archived in Thailand Tagged street_bangkok_dogs_ ayutthaya_floods_wfft_baan_unra Comments (0)

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