It’s 6.00 a.m. and the morning chorus has just finished at Headrock Dogs Rescue. We never need to worry about sleeping late explains Verity, who’s been running HRD with her husband Thep in Bang Saphan since 2008. It was never their intention to take over HRD from Dawn Poole who left for the UK in 2009. This is 65 year old Verity’s story about her never ending animal welfare work.
At least we don’t have to worry about neighbours complaining as we’re at the end of a soi with no houses nearby just the sea and coconut groves. A perfect place for locals to dump their puppies and dogs!
Back then we were given 2 weeks by the Hua Hin Tesaban to close and were told any dogs left would be sent to their Dog Pound. If you’ve seen the poor creatures there you can understand my determination not to let any of our dogs suffer that fate.
After 2 weeks of high stress and pressure negotiating and begging other Thai rescue organisations for help we got about 50 dogs re-homed or re-located. That left 38 older puppies most of whom had already fought for their lives surviving distemper. How could we let them go to hell?
I offered to take them to Bang Saphan for a year and get as many as I could adopted and then send the remaining ones to Soi Dog in Phuket in an agreement with John Daley. The problem was he understandably wanted quite a lot of money to set up a Headrock Dogs run with dedicated workers. Verity explains, ‘We couldn’t afford it so we worked hard to get these dogs adopted and in 2 years 32 of them had a new home. Four more found homes later and today there are 3 remaining.
That should be end of the story. We’d achieved our goal and I was ready for a rest. I’d already done 5 years volunteering with Hua Hin Dog Rescue and HRD and felt ‘dog’ tired. But it didn’t work out that way. We started to build our house by the sea with 2 rai of land where we planned to build a small resort, however the locals again started to dump puppies on our land. Thep was overseeing the building and on site every day so he took care of the tiny puppies and I managed the de-parasite and vaccination program. We had over 30 puppies dumped in under a year and we had them all adopted.
It was then I offered to take the Hua Hin dogs as all the puppies had been adopted so I could concentrate on these young dogs. The fact is that since 2008 my records show we’ve cared for 280 puppies on our land. Some were dumped on the beach, some on the road outside our house, some pushed through the gate, some thrown in the undergrowth; it has been endless. I have all their names and I remember them all. In fact that figure may be nearer 300 as some very tiny puppies didn’t survive the trauma of being put in a sack or box and thrown into the undergrowth or on the beach. It has been a 5 year exhausting challenge caring for these tiny creatures but the joy is in getting some 270 puppies adopted in that time.
This is only half the story of Headrock Dogs Rescue. On 5th February 2009 we were asked by Lung Por (Abbott) of Wat Tam Ma Rong a beautiful but very poor Temple in Bang Saphan for help. He is a great dog lover and I’d helped him occasionally care for his puppies. The Temple dogs were in terrible conditions most suffering from appalling mange and crawling with parasites.
Since that day when we rushed two tiny white puppies to the vet with high fevers and infected lungs we’ve been caring for the Temple dogs and puppies with 2 or 3 visits a week. At that time no Temple dogs were neutered, there were vicious fights between the male dogs and puppies were being born and dying everywhere. It was a terrible sight.
Four years on I’m happy to say all the female Temple dogs are neutered, there haven’t been any puppies born in the Temple for the last 2 years and all the dogs are in very good condition. We run a monthly anti-parasite program and if any dog looks sick we take them to the vet immediately. The biggest problem is blood parasites and tick fever.
We’ve had over 200 puppies dumped in the Temple puppy pen and my first year caring for some 30 puppies in a tiny hut with poop everywhere was horrendous.
Erection of the puppy pen by Thep and a local builder has been a great help as it not only protects the puppies from being killed by Temple dogs but it helps us to socialise them. There have been both Parvo and Distemper outbreaks. When there’s an outbreak I bring the puppies to the Centre where they can get 24/7 care otherwise their chances of survival are minimal. It’s exhausting, but we care about the puppies and dogs.
Temple puppy adoptions have numbered over 170, some of which occurred without my knowledge. I’d arrive at the Temple and a Monk would tell me that another 3 puppies have been adopted. Or, not so good, another 6 have been dumped often with their Mother. All of the dogs are fully vaccinated and all females are neutered. We vaccinate the puppies as soon as they are strong and then neuter them. Many of the dogs were puppies in my first year and sadly many of the original dogs have died. Road accidents and snake bites are a common killer.
Five years on and there is no end in sight for our work. If there’s anyone in Hua Hin who would like to come to Bang Saphan and help me for a year to get all the Centre dogs adopted I would be over the moon!
On the positive side our neutering program at the Centre and at the Temple together with the two German women’s street dog neutering program is starting to make a difference. This is the first year we’ve had fewer puppies dumped on us both at the Centre and at the Temple. Sad to say we had 5 tiny puppies dumped at the Temple today.
Our biggest problem is donations. We have been very fortunate with donations until this year when Thai donations have almost dried up except for a few thousand baht and 5 or 6 thousand baht for sponsoring a few dogs. We only have a handful of donors to enable us to carry on with our work and every month is nail biting. We really need more people to sponsor our dogs.
Our monthly outgoings range from 18,000 baht to 30,000 baht a month when we have 30 or 40 puppies to care for and neuter or we need to do some building work. We don’t employ any workers as we need all our donations to go to the dogs. This is the first year we’ve had a steady flow of volunteers and it’s helped so much.
If people can’t afford to donate we have some beautiful healthy dogs which need loving homes. Adopting is another form of donating and we’re so happy to see our dogs go to loving homes. Local adoptions have fallen off badly this year and we suspect we’ve saturated the market! Every dog loving family has adopted one of our puppies. Bang Saphan is 50% Muslim area which greatly reduces our puppy and dog adoption chances so we must look further afield.
If readers want to know more about Headrock Dogs Rescue in Bang Saphan look at their website www.headrockdogs.org.uk or visit their Facebook Headrockdogs Rescue.