My name is Jacqui Kelly, I live in Keith with my husband Paul, and I would like to tell the story of two little dogs who were rescued from the illegal dog meat trade, and yet remain loving and happy little dogs.
Both my husband and I have always shared a great love of dogs and for 30 years we showed and raced our sled dogs. We are now retired from showing and racing, as our sled dogs are older and deserve a peaceful retirement. Over the years we have naturally lost several of our dogs due to old age. Where we used to have 28, we are now down to 15 and this includes our two little dogs Bintang and Sophie, both rescued from the brutal and illegal dog meat trade in Thailand.
Bintang arrived three years ago after I saw photos of her in a government shelter in Thailand. Sophie arrived just last year. My heart just broke when I saw the photos of so many poor dogs, many of them stolen pets just like Bintang.
Bintang and Sophie were both captured by dog thieves and were on board of a truck carrying up to 500 dogs, which was heading to Vietnam. Good fortune was on their side as the truck they were on was intercepted by Thai police before they managed cross the border into Lao.
While on these trucks many dogs suffer broken limbs - Sophie had her front left leg broken. They can suffocate and become dehydrated as they are left on these trucks for days in blistering heat with no shade, no water and no food. The dogs that do survive the journey face the most brutal and sickening of deaths to then be served up for dinner in dog meat restaurants. These dogs are in no way treated humanly, they are tortured for hours but not killed instantly due to the belief that the more they suffer, the more fear and pain they endure and the more adrenaline racing through their bodies, the better their meat will be. They also believe that dog meat helps keep them cool in summer and warm in the winter months. Following hours of brutal torture, the dogs will then be either skinned or boiled alive. The more fortunate dogs who are on board of trucks that are intercepted by the police or the navy are taken to one of the two government-built holding shelters Buriram or Nakhon Phanom, in the north-east of Thailand.
I found out about this horrendous trade through social media and an organisation called Soi Dog. This organisation has helped thousands of Thailand's stray street dogs and meat trade dogs. Soi in Thai actually means street. I also discovered a lady called Witchuda Pothaworn who spent all of her spare time and every weekend travelling back and forth, working in the shelter. Bee took photos of all these poor dogs and issued them with numbers, then posted the photos of the dogs on social media asking for help. People could either offer donations or offer to sponsor a particular dog, or offer to adopt. In doing this she also saved the lives of hundreds of dogs as she found adopters mainly in USA, Canada and several here in UK too.
The shelter at Nakhom Phanom was built to hold 1000 dogs. By the time Bintang left there were 5000 dogs and an epidemic of distemper and parvovirus broke out. Many dogs don't survive life in the shelters either due to disease or dog fights. Bintang was taken out of the shelter and to private veterinary clinic where she had to stay for three months, until she recovered from both distemper and blood parasites - both common place illnesses in such cramped humid and dirty conditions.
While in the shelter Sophie also had puppies, as there is no separation of males and females; sadly but not surprisingly, her puppies did not survive this hostile environment. Shortly after this, Sophie was taken to a rescue centre called Elfe’s World, which is situated in Koh Samui. The centre and is run by an amazing German lady called Elisabeth Franziska Feigl. Elisabeth has taken hundreds of dog to her rescue centre, which she runs purely on donations. There are around 700 dogs living at Elfe's world, all dogs who were rescued from either dog meat trade or from the streets where they were left to die after being abused.
Following her three-month stay at the clinic, Bintang was taken to her foster home where she would stay for a further three months while undergoing all the relevant procedures to travel to the UK. Bintang went to live with yet another amazing woman, Soot Laing Woo. Soot is an amazing lady who works tirelessly and endlessly to help these dogs. At present she is out with a team of vets and helpers, spaying street and village dogs to help reduce the numbers of strays.
Following Bintang's six months of hospitalisation and foster care, she was finally ready to travel home to Scotland. She flew from Bangkok to Heathrow and from Heathrow to Edinburgh where I eagerly waited for that first cuddle.
Sophie was still living at Elfe’s world in Koh Samui and remained on my mind. I kept in contact with Elisabeth asking after Sophie until finally, after three years, Sophie joined us last September.
Now all of this is a distant memory for Sophie: she has settled into her new life here in Scotland. Both of these dogs have endured human cruelty at its worst. Look at them now, both charming, happy, loving little dogs. I couldn't ask for more. One thing is certain, for the rest of their lives they will know nothing but good times and lots of love.