Immediately after finishing up our week with the dogs and cats at Elephant Nature Park, we moved onto our next volunteering adventure at the Koh Samui Cat and Dog rescue.
Located on the beautiful island of Koh Samui in the south of Thailand, the centre has been rescuing dogs and cats for 16 years. The foundation mainly focuses on “soi” or street dogs who can be found living in small packs all over the island. Before the founder, Brigitte Gomm started the centre there was no veterinarian on the island, and medical treatment was impossible. Many of these animals were left to suffer and die, and some were even poisoned by resorts trying to keep them away from tourists.
The main goal of this foundation is to vaccinate animals against rabies, treat them for mange and worms, treat their wounds when accidents occur, provide sterilization via spaying/ neutering to promote a stable population, and to educate the people of Koh Samui about the treatment of animals.
Currently the shelter houses upwards of 450 dogs, with 60 in clinic receiving daily bandage changes or medications. The clinic also serves the people of Koh Samui who can bring their pets in for vaccinations or sterilization at a reduced price or for free!
Dr. Sith has been working at the shelter for 10 years, and we were privileged enough to be able to shadow him for the week along with a visiting veterinarian from the Netherlands.
With so many animals at the shelter and only two veterinarians there was a lot of work to be done! Due to the tropical climate of Koh Samui, even the smallest of wounds can become problematic as flies can deposit their eggs in the wounds leading to maggots causing severe damage. Because of this, animals that are wounded require vigilant wound care daily, including intensive cleaning and bandaging.
Another large problem facing the dogs are ticks, the dogs are given preventatives once a month and the ground is chemically treated to kill the nymphs. Even with all of these precautions taken, the dogs still have a large tick burden requiring daily tick picking to help avoid blood borne diseases that may be spread by ticks. It is especially important to control ticks in young puppies and injured dogs as they are more susceptible to disease.
Many of the dogs at the shelter come from the streets, however some are abandoned by their owners and left to live in the compounds at the shelter. The rescue runs an adoption program to try to find good homes for the dogs, especially the puppies, so they don’t have to spend their entire lives in a dog run. While Dr. Sith dedicates most of his days to performing sterilization procedures to help combat the problem of overpopulation, there are still many dogs at the shelter looking for homes, and more arriving every day.
Our week at Koh Samui Cat and Dog Rescue was an amazing experience that has completely changed our perspective on veterinary medicine. We commend Dr. Sith and the staff at the rescue for the tireless work that they do, and we are incredibly grateful for the privilege of being part of the team for a week.
-Daniella, Rose, and Julie