Ok dog people! Here’s how to earn endless karma on your upcoming Thailand trip.
Learn three easy ways to improve life for dogs in Thailand (or cats*). Whether you can use some room in your suitcase to bring old toys, can offer your spare Thai change or a rainy afternoon – it’s easy to bring your inner Crazy Dog/Cat Lady to Thailand and leave with the fuzzy satisfaction you’ve done some good.
*I’ll write dog throughout this post (I don’t understand cat-affinity) – but insert your household mammal of choice.
How to help dogs in Thailand
1. Packable dog love
As we explain in The Koh Samui Guide, dogs in Thailand are a common sight – often seen trotting here and there on ‘Official Dog Business’. Not to get all Sarah McLachlan commercial* on you, but many of them could do with some help. Turns out, you can do it while you pack.
Perhaps the easiest way to help dogs in Thailand is to bring a few things with you – tucking spare pet supplies into an unused corner of your suitcase. Despite suggesting what to pack for Thailand – I realised recently that there’s an obvious extra packing list for animal lovers headed to Thailand.
Perhaps you have a dog whose toy box overfloweth. Maybe you have a drawer of old collars and leashes. Or, maybe you don’t have any pets at all – but your linen cupboard would be happy to part with its oldest sheets and towels. Just by packing, it’s easy to come to Thailand and leave its animals better off when you depart. Mushy maybe, but a cause close to many of our hearts (#RescueDogOwnerHighFive).
First – where are you going in Thailand?
Get to know your closest dog and cat rescue – the following are tireless resources and extremely deserving of any time/money/pet supplies you can offer. To call these wonderful charities bootstrapped is an understatement:
- Chiang Mai: Elephant Nature Park Dog Project (ENP Dogs) + their donation wish-list
- Koh Phangan: Phangan Animal Care for Strays (PACS) + their donation wish-list
- Koh Samui: Dog and Cat Rescue Samui (DCRS) + their donation wish-list
- Phuket: Soi Dog Foundation + their donation wish-list
To give you a quick idea of what’s needed, the following is a compilation Thai animal shelter wish-list. If you have a duplicate or can pick up an item on your next trip to the pet shop, consider bringing some puppy presents to Thailand.
Requested household items
- Old towels, linens and blankets
- General cleaning products
- Scrubbing brushes
- Dish cloths
Requested pet supplies
- Extra dog toys
- Dog collars (“dogs wearing collars don’t look like strays and are very often treated better” – DCRS)
- Slip leashes
- Dog treats + chew bones
- Poo bags + holders
- Plastic grooming brushes (not wood)
- Nail clippers
- Metal food and water bowls
- Tick tweezers
First Aid and misc. medical supplies
- Flea and tick medicine and collars (Frontline, Advocate, Advantage, etc)
- Surgical dog collars (cone-of-shame/buster collars)
- Surgical gloves
- Cotton wool
- Bandage materials
From Phangan Animal Care for Strays (PACS):
Bring a goodie bag – Money talks but gifts work just as well. Medical supplies are always welcome but not everyone has access to these. What most people can find quite easily are cat and dog vitamin supplements, probiotics (our patients are often on strong antibiotics), dog collars, leashes, tick and flea treatments and collars, buster collars (the cone of shame), antibacterial/ antifungal dog shampoos and worming tablets.
If you have a little space or weight left over in your luggage allowance, please consider if you can dedicate a little of it to our patients. You can even send items in the post if you can’t come in person: Phangan Animal Care for Strays, PO Box 70, Thong-Sala, Koh Phangan, Suratthani, Thailand. 84280
2. Help out with your spare change
Every animal organisation welcomes a one-off donation, a monthly sponsorship of an animal or even your spare Thai baht change. On Koh Samui, you’ll see small donation boxes for DCRS at many island hotels – an easy way to lighten your wallet of Thai baht coins before you leave.
- Chiang Mai: Elephant Nature Park Dog Project (ENP Dogs) donations
- Koh Phangan: Phangan Animal Care for Strays (PACS) donations
- Koh Samui: Dog and Cat Rescue Samui (DCRS) donations
- Phuket: Soi Dog Foundation donations
From Phangan Animal Care for Strays (PACS):
A little money goes a long way – PACS is a small organization that relies solely on donations. We have anything up to 20 in-patients at a time, sterilise up to 30 animals per month and manage a steady flow of call-outs and outpatients in Koh Phangan’s temples, beaches and streets. All of these things cost time and money. Gas, electricity, water, food and crucially, medicine.
3. Help out with your time
Amongst the rainy day activity suggestions we offer in The Koh Samui Guide, readers tell us that volunteering at Dog and Cat Rescue Samui is amongst their favourite.
To give you an idea of how you can be helpful (with any length of visit)…
- Chiang Mai: Elephant Nature Park Dog Project (ENP Dogs) volunteering
- Koh Phangan: Phangan Animal Care for Strays (PACS) volunteering + Instagram
- Koh Samui: Dog and Cat Rescue Samui (DCRS) volunteering
- Phuket: Soi Dog Foundation volunteering + Instagram
More from Phangan Animal Care for Strays (PACS):
Visit the clinic and donate your time – PACS always needs help from a wide range of people, not just medical professionals. We need help with everything from fundraising to dog-walking, from socializing animals to scrubbing the kennels. There is also always plenty to be done to continue improving the facilities too.
In Koh Phangan, it doesn’t take long for paint to flake off, the jungle to take over the garden and the plumbing to fail. Whatever your skills and experience can be put to good use at PACS, the most important thing is to have a passion for animal care.
If you are happy to get your hands dirty or even just come and give some love to the animals, you will be welcome at PACS and know that you have made a difference to the lives of our patients. If you would like to learn more about PACS and how you can help the island’s strays, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org, we look forward to hearing from you!
More detail from Phangan Animal Care for Strays (PACS)
I reached out to a few Thai animal shelters for some “how to help” info. Helen, from Phangan Animal Care for Strays, gave me a total super-star response and all the amazing photos seen in this post (of which – full disclosure – I used only the happy and healthy looking animal photos). Their mandate (and daily workload) is similarly described at ENP Dogs, Dog and Cat Rescue Samui and at Soi Dog Foundation. Here’s what donations allow them to offer:
We are happy to have no social lives, get bitten, lose sleep and deal with the extreme highs and lows that come with compassionate work, but we need help from people like you to manage the workload and raise the funds to continue.
“We also rely on volunteer vets coming to help with operations, that means we don’t always have a veterinarian to hand and the population control element of our work suffers when we don’t have anyone here to perform the surgeries. PACS aim is to raise enough funds to hire a full-time vet to minimize these interruptions. We estimate that we can double our neutering efforts by doing so but need to raise an extra 500,000 baht (US$14,382 / GBP 10,771) a year to pay a modest vet salary and for the extra medicine, we will need. If we had just 150 people donate 250 baht (US$7 / GBP 5) per month, we would be able to go ahead and recruit this vital resource.”
- Help us Get a Vet for PACS, or come to the clinic for a tour between 10am and 4pm, Monday to Friday and make a direct donation.
A huge thanks to Helen and Phangan Animal Care for Strays for putting such time into this post with me. Let’s get packing!
*Sarah McLachlan commercial (don’t actually watch it – you’ll cry for days)