Expat in Thailand wins major prize for his work in rescuing street dogs

Published:  29 Oct at 6 PM
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Expat Michael Baines and his Sanctuary for 570 dogs, 20 of which have disabilities, have won the 2019 Walkin’ Pets Rescue of the Year award.

Michael, a chef by profession and a dog rescuer by accident, arrived in Thailand in 2002 and began rescuing and caring for soi dogs some years later. For the first five years, he worked in the streets, focusing on abandoned and stray dogs and feeding them and caring for them as best he could. For those needing medical care, he opened up his home and made sure they had all they needed for recovery.

Soon, this determined expat realised the job was simply too big for one man and, with help from the local mayor, he took over the local dog pound, enlarging the existing housing from just 150 square metres to a full 3500 square metre space able to hold many more homeless dogs. He christened the new space ‘The Sanctuary’ and engaged two on-site vets to spey, neuter and heal sick dogs in a newly erected clinic. Nowadays, a staff of 14 look after the dogs and run the Sanctuary under Michael’s watchful eye.

The shelter is now home to 570 dogs, 20 of which are disabled and get around on specially designed doggy wheelchairs which allow and encourage the mobility needed to keep the dogs happy and active. The mobility aids are provided by specialist firm Walkin’Pets, and winning this year’s award will be celebrated by the dogs and Michael taking pride of place in the 2020 Walkin’ Pets calendar. Proceeds from the sale of the calendars will be given to the Handicapped Pets Foundation, thus helping more disabled dogs in need to be given mobility again via the wheelchairs.

Michael, now known as The Man Who Rescues Dogs, is thrilled the Sanctuary was placed first out of entries from 27 world countries as well as 35 US states. This year’s contestants weren’t limited to dogs, with cats, goats, a chicken and even a duck competing for the prize. In Thailand, the plight of its millions of street dogs is well-known, with many Thaïs as well as expats opening up dog rescue centres all across the country and events held to raise funds for food, veterinary services and the search for suitable homes for man’s best friend.
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