Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Lanta Animal Welfare

When we went to Ko Lanta in 2010 I fell head over heels in love with all the beautiful dogs and cats on the island but was also rather saddened by the fact that there seemed to be quite a few straggly and malnourished looking strays on the island too.
On one of our pre-breakfast walks one morning we spotted a dog hiding away in the undergrowth, he looked really unwell and from what we could see he had a nasty gash on his leg, it looked as if he’d been stabbed, he seemed to be very scared and as we got closer he showed his teeth and started growling.
We got some food and water and put it down at a growls distance, moved away and watched as he limped over and devoured it hungrily.
Later that day we went back but he had gone and we never saw him again.
Throughout our holiday I had seen strays being chased away by locals in a rather brusque manner, so I gathered that they were not very popular on the island and would probably not be taken in or nursed back to health.
Therefore I was chuffed to bits when I on our last day there spotted a notice about ‘Lanta Animal Welfare’ in a shop.
I thought, "Thank goodness these poor mites have a guardian angel here after all" and promptly stuffed all my remaining Baht in one of their donation boxes.
 Needless to say I was thrilled to go back to Ko Lanta so that we could finally pay a visit to this brilliant organisation.
I only wish there was a Lanta Animal Wefare on every island in Thailand.
In the UK animal rights and animal welfare organisations comes as standard but in many countries throughout Asia they don’t and sadly without appropriate laws, it’s very difficult to combat cruelty and promote animal welfare in these countries.
When I read about the absolutely atrocious ways that some people on Ko Lanta use to rid the island of unwanted cats, dogs and strays I was naturally horrified but it also made me want to understand what really lay behind such appalling behaviour towards animals and in particular dogs.
The majority of the population on Ko Lanta are Muslims so I decided to have a gander on Google to see if I could find out if there was anything written in the Koran about dogs.
As with most searches on the Internet, this one yielded a heap of contradicting views and information.
From what I can gather there seems to be two camps on the whole ‘Dogs in Islam’ issue.
There are those who consider any physical contact with a dog an unclean act and state that Islam prohibits them from keeping dogs as pets and then there are the more liberal Muslims that seem to consider dogs in a more western context.
Apparently the Koran doesn’t say anything expressly against dogs however there are several hadiths (important sacred texts that many Muslims choose to live by) that seemingly condemn them.
"Five kinds of animals are mischief-doers and can be killed even in the Sanctuary: They are the rat, the scorpion, the kite, the crow and the rabid dog." (Book #54, Hadith #531)
I do want to mention that there are also hadiths that cast dogs in a more favourable light and because of that I’m not content in believing that cruelty to dogs on Ko Lanta is simply down to peoples religious beliefs.
Maybe to some extent there was some method in the madness when these scriptures were penned, serious decease like rabies may have been rife at the time and the hadiths were written to safeguard the people from being infected.
Unfortunately rabies is still a real threat in this part of the world, I found this information on the WHO website:
More than 55 000 people die of rabies every year mostly in Asia and Africa.”
“Dogs are the source of the vast majority of human rabies deaths.”
Thankfully rabies is a vaccine-preventable disease and the best strategy for preventing rabies in people is by eliminating rabies in dogs through vaccination which is one of the very important things Lanta Animal Welfare are doing.
I can understand the fear of decease, the want to keep animal populations at a manageable level and even that some people find dogs unhygienic and don’t want to keep them in their homes, each to their own.
What I cannot understand is how an individual is even capable of such unspeakable cruelty as to throw boiling hot oil over a poor defenceless animal?
Surely we’ve left the realms of religion here, or can people really rationalize doing stuff like that off the back of their beliefs and not see the utter evil in their actions?
A brutally sadistic act like putting fishhooks in dog food or leaving kittens on a cliff shelf when the tide is coming in would land you in a world of bother in the UK but goes unpunished on Ko Lanta.
Keeping the stray dog and cat population under control is of course very important but it should be done humanely and this is why a place like Lanta Animal Welfare is so important.
Through the provision of a humane alternative to population control and education of the younger generation they show the locals a better way of doing things and this in turn will hopefully stop the senseless violence towards these beautiful creatures.
This was the notice that I spotted in the shop back in 2010. The founder Junie Kovacs used to shelter the strays in her own home at the back of her restaurant & Thai cooking school 'Time For Lime'.

The proceeds from 'Time For Lime' went to build this fantastic shelter situated by the Muay Thai stadium, where Pra Ae beach meets Klong Khong beach. 

If you are not a dog person there are plenty of cats to cuddle too.

Who needs elephant trekking when you can go on a stroke-a-thon outside the Happy Cat House :)

We spent a good few hours just cuddling the cats, they are very friendly.

I have a severe weakness for jet-black cats.

The shelter encourages visitors and there are free guided tours every hour.

The dogs are divided into four packs and spend the day outside in four spacious pens. At nighttime they stay in kennels inside. 

More cuddly cats. After you are all cuddled out with the cats, you can take one of the many gorgeous and remarkably well-behaved dogs for a walk.

Bones, Tarzan (who is in the process of being adopted), cheeky wee Spot (who went for walkies with us), Lanta, Sugar and my niece.

Rocket (possibly the most handsome dog I have ever seen), Gorgeous Chilli and Momma (who we took out for walkies). 

Whilst we were there on our second visit someone brought in a slightly different patient.

WALKIES with Momma, Spot and Star.

I really can't think of a better way to spend a few hours. We met some really nice people here too.

On our second visit I convinced my sister (who is afraid of dogs) to come with us. A bit of  Cognitive Behaviour Therapy whilst on holiday and guess what I think it worked ;)

Denver was trying to catch miniature crabs as they scuttled across the sand and Pepsi was sniffing out the bigger ones hiding in their holes.

This is Dok Dek and he was rescued after someone poured boiling hot oil on his head. He's a real cheeky chappy with bundles of character. All the dogs and cats at LAW are looking for loving new homes.
After spending a few wonderful hours with the cats and dogs not to forget the lovely people at LAW chilling out at Time For Lime's laid back beach bar is the icing on the cake.

If you want to find out more about Lanta Animal Welfare please visit their website and if their work speaks volumes to you why not make a donation to this wonderful organization, they need every single Baht to keep the good work going.

Before we traveled to Thailand I read about a dog called Sky on LAWs facebook page and needless to say her story made me cry. When I saw her in real life I just wanted to take her in my arms and keep her safe forever. How can people be so cruel to such a beautiful soul? If I had the money and lived in a big house in the country I would love to give Sky a new home. I hope someone with the biggest of  hearts finds their way to her.

I am so happy that there are people in this world like Junie Kovacs and all the brilliant volunteers at Lanta Animal Welfare, all I can say is thank goodness for them!
Lot's of love,


Anonymous said...

I really enjoy how you spent part of your holydays taking care of the animals in need and visiting the shelter, it's a great organization and those cute pets seems well looked after and happy, it's nice to take a walk with them on that beautiful beach.
I've read the previous post too, every photo is dreamy, I've never visited Thailand, but I always wanted, I hope to go there one day!

Krista Gassib said...

Look at all these babies! OMG. The hardest thing about traveling third world to me is the overt of children and poor treatment of them and animals. I'm happy to know there is a place like this is Thailand! Thanks for sharing.

Style Sud-Est said...

This is a great organization, thank God it exists, those poor animals - We hear horrid stories here 2 in our fair province, i just want to cry something -
Nice of you to have spent some of your vacation time with the dogs and cats.

And thanks for your comments, yes job hunting is the shits and job interviews so so stupid, they ask you questions i tell you...you just want to tell them to piss off...but a girl has to work right, so i will play the game i guess

Ariane x

Mrs. D said...

I can't believe the cruelty of some people... I hope that over time and more education and awareness, people stop doing such atrocities...
Thank you for stopping by my blog, I'm adding yours to my reading list :)


Ulla-Marie Nilsson said...

A lot to read for one who struggles with English but I can see what it's about ... I'm a bit of a Nostradamuswannabe in this issue and I believe that we will be ... "punished" for the way we treat animals.

Punk Glam Queen http://ideefixemon.blogspot.com said...

So nice of you to find and feature such a lovely organisation. I knew about the cruelty some years ago when a friend wound up adopting a dog from Thailand that was badly abused; had 3 legs, and was badly burned. It was a terrible time trying to get him out of there but eventually they managed. The poor dear only trusted a few people (I was lucky to be deemed "safe" by him so I could give him loads of extra love) due to his ordeal. I don't see how people can treat animals that way either, but remember we were raised that way. Unless they get educated about animals, they will continue to abuse the poor creatures. XXX

Junie Kovacs said...

Dear Jennie,
It warmed my heart that you took time to make such a positive blog about all the hard work we have done.
It's people like you who understand and keep us going.
Hope to see you again on Koh Lanta ;o)

Thank you, from the founder of LAW,
Junie Kovacs