PHUKET – Rachel Barton from the UK has traveled to Thailand to help rescue three dogs which were due to be slaughtered as part of the county’s meat trade.
Rachel Barton is a volunteer for the Soi Dog charity, which aims to provide veterinary care and new homes for abused dogs in Asia.
This week she completed her second trip to Thailand to accompany three dogs back to the UK so they can be given to new owners who chose to help them after seeing them on the Soi Dog website.
Mrs Barton said: “We’re working with the Thai authorities to try to end this trade.
“Dogs are being stolen from gardens and are then kept in small wire cages in the jungle before being taken over to Vietnam.
“They are taken to areas of the country where dog is eaten and are made to suffer before they die as it’s believed it makes the meat more tasty.”
Soi Dog was founded in 2003 by Margot Homburg Park and John and Gill Dalley and has helped provide veterinary care, in the form of neutering, to more than 50,000 dogs and cats since it was set up.
Mrs Barton, who owns two dogs, said she became involved with the charity after becoming aware of animal welfare issues.
She said: “I was blown away by the charity and just could not believe the work that it was doing.
“It is so forward thinking and they are just trying to raise awareness of the dog meat trade.”
Mrs Barton, who is now part of the management team of Soi Dog, said she was hoping to go to Thailand again to pick up some more dogs to be re-homed.
Lucky the dog is getting ready to fly to Toronto Canada from Thailand, and it’s going to cost $1,000.
Dog lovers contributed to a Facebook fundraising campaign for the dog which two months ago was stuffed in a chicken crate on a transport truck, destined for the dog meat trade.
Canadian Agnes Poleszczuk, who is adopting Lucky, is one of many dog lovers in Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and other countries who are choosing to adopt dogs from abroad over local pooches in need of a home.
Poleszczuk came across Lucky when she was browsing the website of the Soi Dog Foundation, which is dedicated to helping “homeless, neglected and abused dogs and cats of Thailand.”
She had been making monthly donations, but after reading about the dog meat trade was moved to bring a Thai dog to join her, her husband and their two teenage children.
The family adopted a chocolate lab three years ago from a rescue centre in Kentucky, which she said is an area with a huge stray population.
While Poleszczuk acknowledges local adoption is “a wonderful thing to do,” she said dogs like Lucky are needy because they’re less likely to be adopted and their lives are at risk, pointing to the “very real threat that they face every day of being smuggled across the border and being skinned alive or boiled alive or beaten.”
“You respond because there is a great need,” she said, comparing the situation to child victims in war zones. “I don’t think it really matters so much whether the person or the animal in need is close to your home or on the other side of the world. I think you help where the help is needed the most.”
“We’re all for it. A life is a life.”
Lucky is being cared for by New Zealander Sherin Peace, who runs Doggie Heaven rescue centre in Phuket, Thailand, and has found “forever homes” in the U.S. and U.K. for 21 dogs since the centre launched six months ago.
Rescuing dogs from abroad seems to be popular, said Peace. “I guess it’s maybe quite a neat talking point when you’re at the dog park. You saved this dog from being dished up for dinner. That’s so much nicer than going down to the pet shop than spending $1,000 for a pedigree poodle.”
Peace has heard about stolen dogs travelling cramped in crates toward neighbouring countries. A phone call alerted her to a truck of 13 dogs — including Lucky — that had been intercepted in Nakhon Phanom province in northeast Thailand, bordering Laos. They are now in a shelter in Soi Dog’s care.
“There’s about 4,000 dogs jammed in this one shelter fighting for their lives,” said Peace, who made the trip with her 10-year-old daughter about two months ago.
“Lucky came up and put his head on my daughter’s shoulder,” said Peace, adding the dog was infested with parasites and badly in need of a haircut. “He was just like one big dreadlock.”
They cleaned him up and posted videos, photos and stories online, which is where Poleszczuk first saw his picture about a month ago.
Now Poleszczuk’s Facebook campaign has raised more than $700 of the $1,000 needed to fly him to Canada as cargo. She expects to have Lucky running into her arms at Pearson airport by the end of September.
To find out more about Soi Dog visit www.soidog.org