Puppy Love

By Maeve Henry Jan 4, 2014
I’ve been a regular visitor to Thailand for several years, but one thing that always upset me was seeing so many unwanted, stray animals on the street. I’m a huge animal lover and it’s heartbreaking to see such animals abandoned and in need. Luckily there are organizations like Lanta Animal Welfare who can help these poor animals.

I visited the beautiful island of Koh Lanta in November 2013 and one of the first things I noticed was the lack of stray dogs roaming the streets, compared to the rest of Thailand. On the mainland and other islands, I’d got used to seeing packs of dogs sleeping on the street, urgently needing medical care, but with no one to give it to them. I soon found out that the reason for Koh Lanta’s relative freedom from strays – the good work of Lanta Animal Welfare (LAW). After reading all the great reviews LAW on Tripadvisor, which ranks a visit to the charity as the number 1 activity on the island, I decided I had to visit and find out more about how they are helping the island’s animals.

On my first visit to the LAW sterilization and rescue centre, I was given a tour by one of the many lovely volunteers who offer their time and energy making sure that the 60+ animals at LAW are well looked after. She told me that LAW focuses on reducing stray populations on Koh Lanta and nearby islands through humane sterilization – stray dogs and cats are caught, sterilized, vaccinated against rabies, and returned, so they can’t keep increasing the population.

For those few animals who are unable to return to the streets due to severe injury or abuse, LAW can offer them a temporary home at the shelter. These animals are then put up for adoption and have the chance to find a forever home, either on Koh Lanta, or abroad. Adopted rescue animals are shipped from Koh Lanta to Canada, the USA and Europe regularly, giving these rescued animals the fresh start they deserve.

As soon as I learned about the amazing work LAW was doing, I couldn’t stay away! I returned several more times during my stay on Koh Lanta to walk the adoptable dogs – tourists like me are always welcome to take the dogs out for walks on the gorgeous beach nearby, and the dogs LOVE the attention from the visitors. They also have some super-cute t-shirts and bags available to buy, with the profits helping LAW to continue it’s work. All the dogs were amazing, and I would have loved to adopt one, but with having 2 elderly rescue dogs at home who wouldn’t like new company, I’m not yet in a position to do so. For in the future though, the process was explained to me and I couldn’t believe how simple it would be – LAW staff do all the work, and even arrange flight volunteers to accompany animals back on their flights abroad. Most of the dogs have already finished their quarantine (you don’t even need it for the US and Canada), so for countries in the EU there’s no quarantine in your home country at all! I was travelling onto Malaysia after LAW, but the next time I’m travelling from Thailand back to the US, I will definitely be offering my services as a flight volunteer!

While at the LAW centre, I found out that it was run through funds raised by the beachside restaurant, bar and cooking school, Time For Lime. The boss at Time for Lime, Junie, is also the founder of LAW, so all the profits from the business go back into running LAW. I loved staying in a clean, cozy bungalow at Time For Lime, sipping delicious cocktails and enjoying the 6 dish tasting menu, knowing even then that I was still contributing to the care of the cats and dogs who had stolen my heart over the past week.

The charity doesn’t receive any funding from the government, so relies on Time For Lime and donations from the public to continue it’s good work.

I just can’t recommend a visit (ideally several visits!) to Lanta Animal Welfare enough – anyone visiting southern Thailand should make the effort to come to this fantastic place, on an idyllic island, which is making a huge positive difference to the lives of animals on Koh Lanta.

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