I am thrilled to have the opportunity
to share my thoughts here with those who care about our environment
and animal compassion as I do.
and Looking-Glass is a wonderful concept, which enlightens us about
what is happening in the world we live in.
It is easy to feel despondent at times
about issues relating to our environment and animal welfare in the
world. How many animal programmes on TV leave you feeling depressed
and helpless? Why are humans so destructive to their environment
and other living species that share this planet? That is a question
I ask myself time and time again, and I suspect I will never find
I became involved with animal welfare
in Thailand after befriending and subsequently rescuing a street
dog called Rama in 1998.
There was an instant bond between us and she never left my side
during the day. She hated the nights when we had to return to the
hotel and leave her. She often risked getting kicked by the guards
at the entrance of the hotel as she galloped past them to find us.
She once ran into the reception with a number of staff, some with
brooms in their hands, in hot pursuit! She was always waiting for
us at the hotel entrance the next morning.
Over the years, I have had to turn my back on many of the poor animals
I have met and fed on my travels, their fate sealed because of the
way they are perceived in the countries they are unfortunate enough
to born in.
It is a scenario in most countries of the world today- stray dogs
are seen as vermin who need to be eliminated. I could not turn my
back on Rama, because I loved her too much. I was determined she
would live her life as she deserved, despite the financial hardships
it would entail. It was a nightmare bringing Rama home. Thai bureaucracy
has to be experienced to be believed! The quarantine period was
also very stressful because Rama had heartworm, which needed prompt
treatment. Luckily she was diagnosed as having this disease in Bangkok,
so we purchased the drugs for the treatment there (they are not
available in the UK). There was inadequate time to treat her in
Thailand as the process takes weeks and is very risky to the dog.
The quarantine vet had no experience of treating heartworm as dogs
do not suffer from the disease here. I had to obtain all the information
from a vet in Australia. The dog has to be injected with a drug
It was a harrowing time, but Rama pulled through and is now cured.
She survived her 6 months in quarantine and was one of the best
mannered dogs in the kennels.
Many Thais do not believe that stray
dogs can be domesticated. Rama and another dog called Peggy, who
I rescued from Thailand more recently, have proved them wrong. Both
dogs behave impeccably and are devoted pets. As I write now, Rama
is by my side.
Mark Twain once wrote; If you pick
up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you.
That is the principle difference between a dog and a man. Those
words are very poignant to me.
It is bad news that fur is back in
40 million animals are slaughtered by the fur trade every year including
2 million cats and dogs.
Although Thailand no longer permits dog skin/fur exports after my
appeal to the King, the trade continues to flourish in other countries.
In the Philippines thousands of cats are killed every year for their
fur. They are killed by hanging, or they are hung from a wire while
water is poured down their throats through a hose, causing them
to drown. Many cats are still conscious as their stomachs are cut
and they are skinned.
Dogs suffer a similar fate in China. After travelling for hours
without food or water, they are tied with a tight metal wire, lifted
by a hind leg and stabbed in the groin area, which causes them to
howl in pain and attempt to escape. This makes the wire cut further
into the dog's neck and eventually the animal bleeds to death.
Time is of the essence when there is money to be made so dogs are
skinned alive sometimes in front of other dogs awaiting the same
Those who wear fur should reflect that somewhere in the world a
dog and cat like their own beloved pet, is paying a high price for
human vanity and greed.
In the Daily Mail recently there was an article about furry toy
cats in a basket being sold in gift shops and stalls throughout
Britain. The fur used is from cats and dogs. I believe dogs and
cats will continue to be part of the international fur trade for
as long as there is a demand for fur. Cats and dogs provide a cheap
source of materials for expensive clothing and furry toys. The fur
is never labelled as dog or cat fur, a wide range of ambiguous names
are used in the marketing process.
Companies are perfectly willing to label dog and cat fur as being
fur from other species more acceptable to consumers.
Europe is in the forefront of importing this fur. We need to follow
America by banning these products.
Scottish Tory MEP Struan Stevenson is spearheading the campaign
to end cat and dog fur imports into Britain and the EU. He has seen
the undercover film by the Humane Society of the United States who
first exposed the horrors of the skinning of domestic animals. Anyone
who has seen this film will be left in no doubt that the evil trade
needs to be stopped. Those of us who care can make a difference
despite the odds.
My dream is to open an animal shelter/education
centre for the street dogs in Bangkok.
Animal welfare in South East Asia is abysmal so someone needs to
make a start somewhere.
The large and renowned animal charity that covers that region has
provided me with no support whatsoever. They even refused to give
me a letter condemning the skinning of dogs in Thailand, prior to
when I visited to present the King with my petitions and 60000 letters
from the public. They stated they did not wish to 'rock the boat'
with the Thai Government.
No wonder little progress has been made to animal welfare in most
parts of the globe with this 'laid back' attitude.
The same charity also campaigns for funds by showing shocking pictures
of dogs being electrocuted, stating they believe in neutering and
not killing the strays. I was told the contrary when I approached
them to support my shelter in Bangkok. I was informed that the dogs
should be killed humanely.
I feel that some of the large animal
charities have somehow 'lost the plot', and the public are being
deceived. We all expect the bulk of the money we send to animal
charites to go directly on helping the animals. I have learnt that
this is not the case. Expensive seminars and foreign trips are all
part of the expenditure. Empathy with the plight of the animals
they should be helping is somehow forgotten.
The animals suffer tremendously on the streets in Thailand. The
traffic in Bangkok is manic and many dogs sustain awful injuries
- suffering until they die.
A neutering scheme is in place but, veterinary care is quite basic
and most Thai's have no idea how to care for animals. The animal
shelters which exist are appalling and most of the dogs suffer more
in the shelters than on the streets.
Kim's 2006 Column
the Kim Cooling Story here at Looking-Glass and VeggieGlobal
the VeggieGlobal and Looking-Glass News Site
Chinese Year of the Dog - by Kim Cooling - LGVN News
News story about the resurgence of fur in fashion
Looking-Glass and VeggieGlobal columnists