By John Dalley
Dog Island has been a temporary refuge for hundreds of dogs displaced by the Bangkok floods. The dogs on Dog Island captured the worlds attention and have become symbolic of all the animals affected by the flooding.
The area where Dog Island is located is called Putthamonthon (often called Buddha Monthon). Putthamonthon is a huge Buddhist Temple complex in the Nakhon Pathom province of Thailand, west of Bangkok. It is highlighted by a 15.87 m (52 ft) high Buddha statue, which is considered to be the highest free-standing Buddha statue in the world. Putthamonthon is the center of Buddhism in Thailand.
With your help, and to the relief of many the dogs on Dog Island have been moved to shelter facilities at Wildlife Friends of Thailand and are safely outside of the flood zone. My thanks to the many volunteers and the troops of the Royal Thai Army who worked 20 hour plus days to bring the dogs to safety.
Your support is very important for these dogs and I very much appreciate all that you have done. Today I am writing to ask for your help again. By making a gift of $100 towards the flood relief you will save an animals life!
Over the past weekend, Soi Dog has coordinated and funded the mass evacuation of Dog Island. For the past 6 weeks, over 250 dogs have been stranded on a bridge and adjoining islands in the Putthamonthon Buddhist Park.
Although the dogs were being fed their health was deteriorating and they had no access to fresh water. Diseases were starting to surface and the general health of the dogs was in rapid decline.
In the best interests of these dogs it was decided to remove them all and transport them to the Wildlife Friends of Thailand Shelter in Cha Am. They will stay here until the flood waters subside and then be returned.
This was a huge logistical exercise involving Soi Dog Foundation, Wildlife Friends of Thailand , the Royal Thai Army, experienced dog catchers and over 50 volunteers. The event was covered by Thai television media crews and several journalists.
The first day began early with a 3 hour truck ride from Bangkok to Dog Island. A vet team arrived mid-morning to check the overall general health of the dogs and identify the ones needing urgent care.
Around the bridge are several smaller islands which are partially submerged. Many dogs also live on these islands and were also in danger of becoming ill due to the wet conditions. Our dog catchers went out on boat rescue missions to capture these dogs who were very scared as they had no idea what was happening. However the experienced catchers made quick work of rounding up these dogs and capturing them with nets.
Khun Ruen Thananan (pictured left) who cares for these dogs also accompanied the boats as her close relationship with the dogs made the capture easier. We managed to capture another 50 dogs on these surrounding islands.
Several very sick dogs where taken back by boat and admitted to vet hospitals in Bangkok. Most of them had symptoms of blood parasite diseases and pneumonia.
On the second day Soi Dogs truck arrived with over 150 cages to transport the dogs from Dog Island by boat back to the main road, where awaiting trucks took them to the Wildlife Friends of Thailand Shelter in Cha Am.
The dogs were awaiting our arrival and many of the friendlier ones seemed to know what was happening. Several of them jumped straight into the cages, excitedly awaiting their new adventure. Others were eager to be picked up by volunteers and carried to their cage.
The Royal Thai Army helped to load the caged dogs onto the boats and the first few groups were quickly taken back to waiting trucks.
Only the most frightened dogs remained to be caught, these taking great skill to catch. In the process several volunteers were bitten, as this can be dangerous work. Our dog catchers used their nets to capture the dogs, then careful handling was needed to maneuver them into cages.
Finally after 6 hours, Dog Island was cleared of dogs. It was a very quiet and strange feeling with the many dogs there suddenly gone. Dusk fell and the last of the volunteers finally left the bridge.
As the last volunteers approached the main road the final cages were being removed from the boats with the trucks huge crane.
On the trip home through the deep water the young volunteers sang songs, their laughter a beautiful end to a stressful day. Late that night the last truck left for the shelter in Cha Am.
All of the dogs have now safely arrived at the shelter though 90% of them do have some form of health problem resulting from the flooding and their confined living conditions on Dog Island. With proper medical attention we are confident the vast majority will be brought back to health. Thank you to everyone involved in this exercise. It was a huge effort by all.
As it is likely to take 2 to 3 months before the water recedes this has been and will continue to be an expensive exercise with the hiring of trucks, building of extra shelters, veterinarian bills for critical cases removed to Bangkok and the additional treatment of the remaining dogs suffering from pneumonia and other ailments. The coming months will see large food and medicine bills. Final costs for the rescue and care of these dogs alone will be well in excess of 750,000 Thai baht ($24,000) At 3,000 baht per dog (a bit under $100) I think this money well spent.
Oreo, one of the dogs rescued from Dog Island will soon be going to the United Kingdom to a forever home. When rescue teams found Oreo he was fighting for survival against the flood waters. Fortunately the rescue team was able to capture Oreo from the dangerous waters and bring him to Dog Island.
The pictures above show Oreo leaving Dog Island and his arrival at the emergency transit center in downtown Bangkok.
A gift from you of $100 will save the life of a dog like Oreo by giving the rescue teams and veterinarians the necessary supplies and medication to provide the animals the best care possible.