Giving back while on holiday
This Summer brings me back to Thailand for a relaxed holiday with my brother, eating loads of pad thai, trekking jungles and making a trip to Chiang Mai to visit an elephant sanctuary which you can read about here.
On our second week in Thailand, we made our way 950 miles south from Chiang Mai to Ko Lanta for some sun, sand and kayaking. Once the domain of backpackers and sea gypsies, Ko Lanta has morphed from a luscious southern Thai backwater into a midrange-to-luxury getaway for mostly-European tourists, who come for the divine miles-long beaches unpolluted by jet skis, ferries and long tail boats. Lanta is a sleepy island from June to October which are the monsoon months in South East Asia.
Making our way to the island was uneventful, and as soon as we planned our kayaking and snorkelling activities, we looked up a few that were eco friendly and ethically conscious. Vacations seem to be about sun bathing and sipping piñacoladas pool side. Although both sound very appealing and are part of every beach travellers activities, there are many ways we can still be eco and ethical while on trips abroad.
Lanta Animal Welfare
We came across the Lanta Animal Welfare on trip advisor, read about it very briefly and we were sold when it mentioned “cat petting” and “dog walking by the beach” as part of the activities you can do when visiting the Shelter. So we made a trip the very next day.
Founded in 2005 by Junie Kovacks, a tourist that fell in love with the island and noticed the alarming amount of stray cats and dogs in the region. Lanta Animal Welfare is now leading the countries animal rights and welfare programs. It is a non profit organization that is funded by donations (mostly from visiting tourists) and by partner establishments like Time for Lime, a professional & fun Thai cooking classes conducted in open-air beachfront cookery school kitchen.
Once we got to the welfare centre, we were greeted by a lovely lady who introduced herself as informed us that she was a long time volunteer from the UK. Like most volunteers in the welfare centre, she was on her 2nd term of volunteering and has skipped on the rest of the touristy attractions to volunteer full time whilst on the island.
We were given a quick tour of the facilities and saw the great work and dedication these volunteers do. They work in shifts and have their own tasks and areas to cover, it’s all very well organised and the animals are very well cared for. All the animals are brought to the shelter by tourists, locals and pretty much any individual that coms across a stray. While some are taken in when the welfare centre does their mobile clinics in and around neighbouring islands.
All the animals at the shelter that are healthy are up for adoption, and last year alone they had successfully found home to over 70 animals to countries abroad.
After the tour, we were given dogs, a map of which route to take them, a dish and a bottle of water- for the animals. We took our pets for the afternoon and proceeded to walk down the dirt road and up a hill as was advised by the volunteers. At least we tried to do just that but our furry friends would have none of it and instead dragged us to the fastest way to get to the beach.
A look at numbers
- Only 1 out of every 10 dogs born will find a permanent home.
- The main reasons animals are in shelters: owners give them up, or animal control finds them on the street.
- Homeless animals outnumber homeless people 5 to 1.
- Each year, approximately 2.7 million dogs and cats are killed every year because shelters are too full and there aren’t enough adoptive homes. Act as a publicist for your local shelter so pets can find homes.
- Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats.
After a good long walk, we were ready to head back to the shelter to say goodbye to our new friends. We left some donations and purchased a few items that are all locally made and sustainably in fashion too, all of which you can also purchase from their facebook shop.
You can find out more about Lanta Animal Welfare on their website and it is definitely a place to visit when in the Krabi province of Thailand.