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During my first week in Southeast Asia, we spent a day volunteering at Care for Dogs Chiang Mai shelter in Thailand.
Thailand has a huge population of stray and feral dogs, and you can always see them wandering the streets in the cities. Care for Dogs Chiang Mai is doing big things to try and control this population of dogs, help dogs in need, and care for dogs to prepare them for a hopeful adoption.
If you want to volunteer as a traveler, they ask for a minimum of four days to help bathe, walk, feed, and play with all the dogs. However, if you have a more tight travel schedule you can do a ‘socialization tour’ for the day to come and socialize with the dogs – anything helps them get more accustomed to humans and furthers their chance of adoption! If you are a dog lover like me, it was an easy decision to stop by and play with some of these adorable little angels.
Our Day at Care fog Dogs Chiang Mai
This ‘socialization tour’ is what we did. All we had to do was email the center a few days beforehand, and they quickly got back to us with a date and a time that we could come in.
Because of the large volume of dogs at Care for Dogs Chiang Mai, they run their shelter a bit differently. The dogs live together in packs in different open-air enclosures, with plenty of room to run around. They live in harmony together, but it’s crazy to see how hierarchies, cliques, and ring leaders emerge among the dogs!
When we arrived at the shelter, we were given an orientation by one of the volunteers who had been there for over three years. She told us all we needed to know about the shelter and how to behave around the dogs. There are a few office workers, vets, and a shelter manager, but because it is a charity a load of the helpers come as volunteers.
The vets at Care for Dogs Chiang Mai are trying to help control the population of feral dogs by collecting and bringing in 20 dogs per day to sterilize, which they are hoping will slowly but surely help curb their population growth. She explained to us that there are multiple different areas for the pups – adult dogs, older dogs, dogs who had just had medical treatment, dogs with specific medical cases, shyer dogs, aggressive dogs, teenagers, and puppies.
The first thing we did was take some of the teenage dogs for a walk. Wow were they a feisty bunch! As soon as their door was opened they were climbing all over each other sprinting to the door they knew lead to the outside. With difficulty we put a leash on them all, grabbed two or three dogs each, and were basically walked by the dogs to the dog park. Without a walk in a few days they were more than antsy to stretch their growing legs!
We next walked the shy dogs, which actually turned out to be some of the sweetest dogs ever. All of the dogs in the shelter were so insanely loving – climbing into your lap for a good pat or bathing you in kisses. It was basically my paradise… if you know me, you know how much I love dogs and how impossible it is for me to pass one on the street without patting it. Now imagine me inside a fence full of 20 puppies. You can probably imagine the level of my excitement!
After a quick lunch with a few other volunteers, we went to spend time in each dog enclosure. This is where I got most of my portrait shots of the pups! I fell in love about 30 times… with dozens of lovely, adorable, affectionate doggies, each of which I wanted to take home.
Care for Dogs Chiang Mai can work with international adopters, and can get pups to the US, Europe, and other places within a few months. So if anyone wants to help out a man’s best friend in need, this would be a perfect place to go to find your own best friend!!
If you happen to be in Chiang Mai, absolutely take a few hours to stop by this incredible place. Instead of going to places where they treat elephants and tigers poorly (or as well as going somewhere they treat them well!), take some time to make a difference in the lives of and be absolutely showered in love by amazing doggies.