I had the privilege of spending a week at the Elephant Nature Park Dog sanctuary in the beautiful rolling hills just North of Chiang Mai. Volunteers from around the world flock to this ethical refuge, all of them dedicated to providing the less fortunate dogs of Thailand with a cruelty free & dignified life.
Volunteers are expected to donate at least 7 days of their time and share a 6-bed bungalow behind the main set of kennels.
ENP Dogs began as the result of massive flooding in Bangkok towards the end of 2011. Bangkok’s streets suddenly became rivers and lakes which left many animals in dire need for help. Dogs became trapped on rooftops, stuck in upper levels of shophouses, some even took refuge in the tops of trees. In rented boats, volunteers from the Elephant Nature Park rescued as many animals as they could. Many dogs were too traumatized to board their boats so they were given fresh water, food and medical treatment and left to fend for themselves.
Of the 2,000 dogs pulled to safety, 155 were brought to Elephant Nature Park to begin their second chance at life. Several large dog runs were built with all kinds of structures for the dogs to climb on, swim in, and play amongst. A small animal hospital was also constructed and full time volunteer veterinarians have been on staff ever since.
Dogs are walked twice per day.
Disabled dogs need walks too.
Since the floods, many new dogs have joined the family, many of them puppies or pregnant mothers who’ve come from the surrounding communities and have suffered malnutrition, disease, abuse and neglect. ENP Dogs has also saved many dogs destined for the illegal dog meat trade in Laos or Vietnam.
ENP is currently home to over 400 dogs and caring for these wonderful animals is a full-time job and expensive job. The park itself does not accept donations, all operational costs are funded by the volunteers who pay a substantial price for food and lodging (if you’d like to donate you must donate through the Save the Elephant Foundation)
Three buffet style, vegetarian meals are served daily and quite frankly it’s some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. The culinary staff does a wonderful job and they also prepare food for the elephant volunteers and day tours. All in all, they feed hundreds of people every single day.
Accidents involving speeding vehicles are a common occurrence In Thailand and spinal injuries are often the result. E.N.P. is home to a disabled dog center where the animals receive round the clock care.
The sanctuary sits on 250 acres of lush jungle which gives the animals room to stretch their legs. Each pack of dogs is able to play and exercise in a variety of dog runs and fenced in areas.
It’s important to note that this isn’t a volunteer experience for the faint hearted. You will be responsible for a large number of animals and daily chores include feeding, walking, cleaning, and socializing, It’s a hot and dirty job in a tropical environment so you will sweat constantly, you will lose weight, you will get scratched, you will get sunburned, you will get bug bites, you will get dog poop in-between your toes. Sound like fun? Well it is. These animals need your help and it feels great to be able to give it to them.
The project accepts weekly volunteers at their centers in Thailand, Cambodia, and Myanmar.