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Kim Cooling

Kim CoolingIn 2000 Kim Cooling single-handedly brought a halt to the annual slaughter of tens of thousands of street animals in Bangkok. Today she continues her groundbreaking work, raising awareness of animal cruelty around the world.
2006 column
2002-2005 column

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Kim's 2002-5 Column

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.

VeggieGlobal 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 an answer.

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 containing arsenic.
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 fashion.
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 fate.
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.
To Kim's 2006 Column

Kim's latest Column
Read the Kim Cooling Story here at Looking-Glass and VeggieGlobal

Articles at the VeggieGlobal and Looking-Glass News Site
The Chinese Year of the Dog - by Kim Cooling - LGVN News

Looking-Glass News story about the resurgence of fur in fashion

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