Tamara Johnston dedicates her life to rescuing the street dogs of Thailand.
Johnston, an Australian English teacher living in the Songkhla area in Thailand, first began her rescuing journey with a 4-week-old puppy named Bella. Bella was found alone near a roadside temple – she had no mom and no one to help her.
Johnston grabbed Bella and took her home. She even ended up adopting Bella.
“She would likely have been killed by a car had she stayed there. If not killed by a car, she would have soon been sick due to disease such as parvo, distemper, blood parasites or mange – this is very common here,” Johnston said.
But it didn’t end with Bella.
After rescuing the tiny pup, Johnston began noticing other Thailand dogs that needed help. Everywhere she turned she noticed starving, diseased, and neglected dogs.
Although there is a local government-run shelter in Songkhla, Johnston was terrified at what she saw.
“There is no funding for the shelter and dogs are dying at a fast rate… ill with blood parasites from ticks and fleas,” she said.
Unfortunately, Thailand doesn’t have shelters, pounds, or rescue centers like we do here in the United States and other Western countries.
So, Johnston took matters into her own hands.
She began taking in dogs and providing them with food, a safe place to sleep, and proper veterinary care. She also tries to find homes for as many pups as she can. In fact, a lot of the dogs she takes in end up being adopted by U.S. families.
As for the street dogs she can’t take home, she made sure they were provided food, water, and necessary vet care.
As you can imagine, all the rescuing gets overwhelming.
In fact, when the people of Thailand heard that Johnston was taking in animals, they began dumping puppies and dogs at her doorstep.
“People here often take pictures of me and laugh, instead of offering a helping hand. Vets are not always the most helpful or responsible. People will ask for my help without offering any. So, on top of my actual job of rescuing and treating, I also have to deal with so many outside obstacles that just make my job even more difficult. But I’m determined and will never give up on these dogs or any other animal that needs my help,” she said.
And while they have some amazing animal rescue groups in Thailand, there aren’t any large organizations in Songkhla that are able to help dogs.
As of earlier this year, Johnston is caring for nearly 40 foster dogs at her home and around 50 street dogs.
“I know I can’t save every single dog, but I want to help as many as I can. That is the reason I continue to stay here. I want to make a difference,” she said.
After spending more than five years rescuing dogs on her own, Johnston finally decided to start an official rescue group called Thai Street Paws. She even hopes to someday build a clinic to offer basic veterinary services and sterilizations.
Thanks to The Dodo for the inspiration for this article!