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Dogs in need of help are everywhere. It seems that every corner of the globe has a problem with homeless dogs. It's heartbreaking. Many people wonder why "someone" doesn't do something. We are, each of us, "someone." One woman who has changed her life in order to help street dogs in Thailand, is Tamara Johnston.
Tamara originally went to Thailand from her native Australia, to teach. A qualified primary school teacher, Tamara taught eleven years in Australia and five years in Thailand and Malaysia, bringing her teaching skills to children in other lands. This is her second time teaching in Thailand. While in Thailand the first time she began to see the problem with the Thai street dogs. Her "lightbulb" moment came when she found a puppy, a mere four weeks old, outside a Temple. The little one was in danger of being run over by cars. Tamara brought home the puppy she called Bella and they have been together ever since. This meant going through the work of getting Bella into Australia when she went home and back to Thailand when she made up her mind to sell everything and return to Thailand. Tamara's passion for helping the street dogs of Thailand began the day she rescued Bella.
Tamara had continued to help the street dogs from Australia but she knew it would be easier to accomplish her goals if she were on the ground in the country. While there are a couple of big rescues in a major area, Tamara is in Songkahla where no one helped the dogs. No one but Tamara.When she moved back she moved to Bangkok but when she went back to visit Songkahla she knew that that was where he help was most needed. She started Thai Street Paws Rescue.
The problems are enormous. Veterinary bills can quickly add up. Even though it's less expensive in Thailand, she lives in Thailand, consequently, her life is also tied into their economy so it is just as expensive for her as for any other resident.
Social media allowed her to show people the dogs, raise funds, arrange adoptions. Ah, but the devil is in the details. Raising funds puts her in competition with everyone else who wants money to help various causes. If you've been reading my blog for awhile you know that I advise against donating to organizations so big that they are on TV and promising gifts when you donate. Gifts? You're buying them. What about the payment to the various staff members from the Director on down? Better to donate to a grassroots organization. It doesn't matter if it's in your backyard or on the other side of the world, they are the ones who are truly in need and are usually functioning on a shoestring. Then there are the dogs who need veterinary care, those who need to stay in a foster home. Tamara fosters some herself and cares for about 30 dogs that are on the street near her residence. She obviously needs volunteers.
"The plan is to live here for many years," says Tamara. "I even moved my dogs from Austrlia to here and that was a big step." It was, indeed.
With homes lined up in various countries, the problem has become getting the dogs to their adopters. She needs volunteers who are flying out of Thailand. She will take care of all the paperwork. It costs them nothing. They just need to accompany a dog on the flight, otherwise, they can't leave.
When a friend in the U.S. wanted to send her beds and blankets for the dogs it was outrageously expensive and nearly impossible. She ultimately mailed them but the money that went to the post office could have gone to feed or vet the dogs.
Tamara still works as a teacher. She teaches at a Thai university and she has her own tutoring centre. She would dearly love to work full-time with the dogs. She has three dogs of her own now, and she takes three foster dogs at a time, the rest are boarded out in private facilities. Her goal now is to open a safe house for the dogs, separate from her own home, where they will be able to recover and wait for their forever homes, off the streets and into loving arms.
Tamara knows she can't save every dog but each one is a victory. She is one woman in an adopted country, with a heart of gold who has the courage of her convictions and has put her life where her heart is: saving as many street dogs as she can.
For those who want to help, every little bit counts, it is put with the donations of others and it adds up. You can donate through her You Caring fundraising site:
Here is the link for the YouCaring Site so that you can donate to this life-saving cause:
Thai Street Paws Fundraising
You can follow her on Twitter: @oztam76
Facebook: Thai Street Paws Rescue
Contest Winner: The winner of last week's contest to win a copy of Simon Tofield's newest book, Simon's Cat Off to The Vet... and Other Cat-astrophes is Nancy Dionne! Please contact me through my website: www.darlenearden.com, with your name and address to send to Akashic Books. Congratulations, Nancy!