Michael J. Baines, a Swedish chef, opened this shelter called 'The Man That Rescues Dogs' after witnessing the dire state of strays in Thailand.
The voiceless creatures on the streets have a hard life with having to forage for food, protect their territory, and generally avoid being mistreated by cruel humans who think less of them. In Thailand, most people associate street animals with diseases and infections. In 2017, it was estimated that there over 800,000 stray dogs and cats, and the number is expected to reach a whopping 2 million by 2027, and 5 million in 20 years if proper steps are not taken to control it. While the lack of care is startling in the country, one man has taken it upon himself to care for the pooches no matter what. Michael J. Baines, a Swedish chef, has opened an animal shelter called "The Man That Rescues Dogs" to help house these pooches.
According to Bored Panda, Baines has already saved over 2,000 cats and dogs who were left to fend for themselves on the streets. But what separates him from the rest is that he takes in disabled dogs and nurses them back to health in the shelter situated in Thailand. Per Reuters, there are around 27 dogs in the facility currently who are attached to wheelchairs to support their hind legs. "It's almost like they have no idea that they have a disability and once you put them in the wheelchair for the first time, it's like there's no learning curve," explained shelter official Christopher Chidichimo.
Noting how useful the canine mobility aids are, dog handler Phanuphong Borphuak said, "They are eager for us to strap them up. They run very fast, we humans can't keep up with them." In addition to these disabled dogs, the shelter deals with nearly 600 dogs every day, and surely caring for such a huge group is no piece of cake. When asked about the challenges they face while taking care of so many animals, the shelter’s main assistant Chris Chidichimo said, "The biggest challenge is facing different situations that come up unexpectedly. We have our routine with feeding, walking, cleaning, physio and hydrotherapy, things like that. But as a rescue organization, we’re dealing with severe emergency cases on a daily basis. Therefore, we have to remain flexible, but it is definitely a challenge."
Speaking about their everyday routine, Chidichimo continued, "Up at 5 am cleaning and preparing for the day. The wheelchair gang and the others go for a walk at 6 am. Then the nearly 600 dogs at our shelter are fed breakfast. Our truck heads out at 7 am to feed 350 street dogs in our community. Then more cleaning. 600 dogs poop a lot! At 10 am we do hydro and physiotherapy, giving our disabled dogs additional exercise. Dogs are walked again at 2 pm, then fed again, then more cleaning. We also operate a free-of-charge clinic. It is booked solid every day. We have two veterinarians and one assistant working full-time. We don’t charge for our service as long as we can spay or neuter their pet. It’s more important for us to have healthy, vaccinated, and sterilized animals in our community than it is to turn a profit."
Despite the long and hard days, Chidichimo says all of the work is totally worth it, and the best part "Without a doubt, it’s giving the sick, neglected, abused street dogs of Thailand the second chance that they deserve. When you see a paralyzed dog in their wheelchair for the first time, running free and smiling, that’s right up there as one of the best parts of the process," he shared. However, the pandemic has severely affected the shelter as there's been a 40 percent drop in donations and a reduced number of foreign visitors. "We’ve had to suspend our monthly spay and neuter campaigns. Our clinic is operating 5 days a week instead of 7. With few visitors, donations of food and supplies have significantly dropped. Volunteers help with daily tasks and sharing their experiences. Without them, there is an increased workload for the staff and a decrease in our presence in the world of social media," he added.
Donations are very important for the shelter as they rely on them for the shelter to survive. "We are funded entirely on donations. It costs 40,000 baht ($1,350 USD) per day every single day for us to operate. People can follow us on Facebook and on Instagram @themanthatrescuesdogs to see the lives transformed and how their donations are used. We feel the work that we do is important and we can’t do it alone," explained Chidichimo. Despite the difficult and stressful times, the staff continues to work diligently. "When you love what you do, you just have to remember that every single part of our job is to better the lives of the dogs in our care. It’s intense and definitely emotional at times. When our hearts get broken as they often do, you just remember there are others that need us. It’s ok to stop, have a good cry, and then continue on serving the dogs that need us."
You can visit The Man That Rescues Dogs' website if you wish to donate.