Help care for Koh Chang’s animal population
Abused, injured or abandoned animals receive medical care and refuge at Koh Chang animal Project in Klong Son. This non-profit centre was established in 2002 by American veterinary nurse, Lisa. She also works with local communities around the island on spaying and neutering projects in order to help keep the island’s every growing population of stray and unwanted cats and dogs under control. She receives no salary or payment for doing this work. The project only exists thanks to her own funds and donations from animal lovers from around the world.
In the basic, 120 square meter facility there is a clinic, surgery & lab, ICU/nursery, a bedroom, kitchen and toilet. In the back, there are 4 outdoor dog kennels. A wild pig has her own house in the garden.
It had been a while since I visited Lisa to catch up with what’s been happening. She had called me recently to let me know that, after over a decade of trying, the project was now legal in the eyes of the Thai government. The Koh Chang Animal Project is now recognized by the Royal Thai Ministry of Livestock as an official Animal Aid Center. This is great news for many reasons.
They obviously recognise the value of her work.
But, equally importantly, it now allows her to raise much needed funds legally. Setting up an organisation to help animals is a worthy thing to do, but unless you have the proper paperwork, you aren’t allowed to solicit donations and fund raise.
This might seem harsh but it’s in place to prevent fraud as in the past there were high profile cases of people raising a lot of money under the guise of wanting to help charitable causes but then disappearing with the proceeds.
What Does the Animal Project Do?
The main focus of the KCAP is to educate the local people on how to provide their animals with good general health care and offer the services necessary to do so. Pet owners are asked to pay for the medicines and materials used but Lisa’s time and treatments are free. People usually cover the cost of materials, and many also give a donation towards the care of the stray and temple animals.
Among other things, donations go to:
- Provide general health care
- Initial vaccinations
- Yearly booster vaccinations
- Sterilization (for population control)
- Parasite control
- Wound management
- Emergency services (most common are car hits and poisonings)
- Hospitalization/critical care
However, there are always some people who seek out care for their pet and then don’t pay. When I visited there was a list of eight non-payers on the wall. The amounts involved aren’t large, ranging from a few hundred to a couple of thousand Baht. Yet, these are people who came to her when their pet was sick, received free treatment and medicine, picked up their pet and then didn’t pay.
Not aren’t poor people, these are expats and Thai business owners. Labourers and farmers who genuinely have very little, will pay as soon as they are able or offer food for the animals as payment. They are good people.
It’s often far more difficult to get the person driving a new car and living in a nice house to pay their bills. These are the type of people I really don’t like. I’d be happy to name and shame them, but I’ve been asked not to, so won’t.
There are also the people who arrive in hotel vehicles at the crack of dawn, dump animals on her doorstep then disappear quickly. Expecting Lisa to treat them and then magically find a home or someone to look after them.
Tourists often bring in animals they have found at their hotel or nearby which are sick or been in an accident and pay for the treatment. But that leaves Lisa with the problem of finding a home for it when it recovers, which is easy for a cute kitten, but not always for a mangy street dog.
Then you have the wealthy resort owners and business people who just get bored of their animals or can’t be bothered giving them medicine when they are sick. So they hand them off to Lisa and she cares for them. They pay but no longer have any interest in their animals.
And then you have people who get angry with their pets and hack off a limb with a knife. They immediately regret what they have done. Lisa amputates the paw or leg. But then the owners don’t want the animal back. So that gets added to the collection of animals living permanently at the clinic. Some, including a blind cat have been there for years. All the time being fed and cared for by Lisa and her volunteer staff.
However, the real ‘highlight’ of animal cruelty comes from one of the temples on the island. Again, it’s something that I’d love to mention but for various reasons I can’t say what animal it involves or give the story behind it. If you thought Buddhist monks were all into peace, love and doing what’s best for animals, you’d be very much mistaken.
Lisa first arrived on Koh Chang in 2000 as a dive instructor. She soon noticed that the animals on the island were in desperate need of veterinary care. With over 20 years experience of providing volunteer veterinary care, she decided to start helping. At first, this involved only vaccinating animals and emergency support. Things progressed and the need for a clinic was obvious. She learned the Thai language and offered her services for free to help out the local people.
She gained valuable experience over the years and has studied with numerous doctors from various countries around the world. Her knowledge and understanding of animals has grown immensely since 2000. She now works with and advises Thai vets on procedures and tries to share her knowledge in the hope that it helps improve animal welfare in Thailand.
What Can you Do to Help?
Three ways you can show your support . . .
Volunteers, especially those with veterinarian skills are welcome to come to help out and share their experiences. However, anyone who loves animals and isn’t afraid of seeing the realities of operating on and caring for sick and badly injured animals is welcome to spend time helping at the centre.
Make an appointment to visit Lisa and see for yourself the work that she does. Don’t take my word for it. If you feel she is doing an amazing job under very difficult circumstances, then please make a donation. But don’t turn up unannounced, as she is usually very busy and won’t be able to see you if she is operating or has appointments to see animals.
It is located in Klong Son valley. It is on the same road leading to Ban Kwan Chang elephant camp, 1.5 kilometers from the 7-eleven on the main road. There’s no obvious sign, look for a new house by the road, then a black garbage bin that just says ‘Lisa’ on it. Follow the dirt track 50 metres to her house.
As mentioned, the KCAP is now a legally registered organisation. At present their aren’t any donation boxes around the island. But you can contribute via Paypal. So, if you have found my website useful in planning your trip to the island, like animals and want a way to give something back, send Lisa a few dollars.
Contact Koh Chang Animal Project
More information: KohChangAnimalProject.org