Superhero Spotlight: Our WVS Thailand Team

This special Superhero Spotlight is dedicated to not just one of our amazing vets, but the entire team that ensure our centre in Chiang Mai runs so smoothly!! On an average week, our veterinary team will treat up to 20 rescue cases. Around 70% of these will show up at the clinic unannounced. The remaining 30% will be picked up by the rescue teams following reports from concerned local citizens. Not only this, but the team run surgical courses for our international students, during which up to 140 dogs will be sterilised (and vaccinated) each week. Outside of courses the centre averages out at between 80 - 120 cats/dogs during the working week. Outreach clinics will sterilise and vaccinate between 100 - 350 dogs per week depending on the area and cooperation of the local population and municipality officials.

It's clear that this centre has lots going on!! Find out more about how it all began and the amazing people making it happen in the blog below! The Thai foundation ''Care for Dogs'' had been operating in Chiang Mai province for nine years, helping to rescue dogs and provide shelter for them from the harsh life on the streets. But what started out as one person’s desire to help out quickly escalated into a full-blown animal shelter with all of the welfare and financial obligations that go with it. WVS had been supporting the shelter for several years by sending medical aid parcels each month as well as volunteer vets to help out with sterilisations and shelter medical issues whenever possible. It soon became apparent that the owner was unable to keep up with the financial costs of the operation. Over-population within the shelter was having a serious and detrimental effect on the welfare of the animals. Volunteers had stepped in where management had stepped out. The owner decided that enough was enough and called in WVS to take over the site and continue the work. WVS officially came out to Thailand in to run the site from October 2015 with a fresh new management team and a focus on improving the standards of welfare for the shelter residents, rescue cases and street dogs of Chiang Mai. Over the next year or so, the team remained turbulent with inconsistencies in management and veterinary staff until finally, in early 2017, the current directors took the reins and began the big push forward bringing WVS Thailand into the spotlight both locally and internationally. Dr Giacomo Miglio (Clinical Director) focused on the clinical side of the operation, reorganising WVS protocols to suit the country’s legal requirements, upgrading the international training courses, creating stability and training programmes for the staff and international volunteers, spear-heading the outreach programs and expanding on the foundations laid down by past clinical directors. Mr Ian Clarke (Director of Operations) moved from the position of Senior Animal Behaviourist & Shelter Manager to Director of Operations. The primary focus of Ian’s new role was to reorganise the staff structure and empower the existing Thai staff into positions where their experience and skillsets could be utilised to their full potential, enabling a sense of ownership and pride within the team that had not been recognised by previous directors. Four of the core Thai employees were immediately given management positions and corresponding titles to fairly reflect the hard work and dedication they had been clearly displaying for some time. Khun Guy moved into the position of ITC Manager, taking care of stock levels, cooperation with local municipality veterinarians, liaising with the Department of Livestock, ensuring the surgical environment and practice is in line with Thai law and general staff management. Khun Ou was promoted to HR & Administrations Manager charged with looking after staff contracts, day to day accounts, petty cash, translations and legal cover regarding visa & work permits. Khun Manida took on the role of Shelter Manager, ensuring welfare standards are met at all times, pushing educational outreach, adoptions, management of the caretaking team and ensuring general maintenance of the shelter buildings. Finally, Khun Fon attained the title of Outreach Manager and now takes care of outreach planning, researching new projects, budget analysis, team management, legal cover and health & safety during the clinics. Dr Poppy (Lead Thai Vet) stood by WVS from day one and had to endure some of the hardest times imaginable. At one point, he was the only vet on site to deal with international courses, outreach clinics and the multiple rescue cases that make their way to the clinic each day. His dedication to the animals and his work ethic have been an inspiration to many of the new vets that have joined the team. The brief history of WVS Thailand would be neither fair nor complete without a special mention and thanks to Dr Poppy and his tremendous effort over the past three years. Since the change of directors took place almost 18 months ago, the work carried out by WVS Thailand has gone from strength to strength and the bar has been consistently pushed higher, resulting in the amazing work carried out by the team and a positive outlook for the future of WVS in southeast Asia. Supporters and major corporate donors are able to clearly see the impact being made by this dynamic and versatile team. Visitors to the centre continue to be impressed by the work ethic and passion displayed by all of the staff and volunteers at WVS Thailand...it really is clear to see that the team is passionate about the work they’re doing and the mission of WVS in Thailand is powering forward with focus, drive and determination to be the leading animal welfare organisation in this corner of the world. Meet Ian Clarke: “It's an honour and a pleasure to work with such a confident, competent and committed team out here in Thailand. I'm impressed and motivated each and every single day by the teams’ work ethic and attitude towards pushing animal welfare into the public eye. These guys are making a genuine difference to the lives of the local communities and the animals in their care. With the support of the UK office, WVS Thailand is able to make crucial decisions on budget allocation that enable the best value for money on behalf of our generous and caring donors around the world. With clear proof of work, annual targets being smashed and direct evidence of the high impact work being carried out by this professional team, WVS Thailand is fast developing into the leading animal welfare organisation in southeast Asia. As we move into 2019, WVS Thailand is forging closer working relationships not only in the local vicinity but also with national government agencies, prestigious Thai universities and international veterinary associations in neighbouring countries. All of this would be completely impossible without such a solid and committed team that proves time and time again that they are able to overcome the most challenging situations and deliver world class veterinary services in areas where it's so desperately needed.” Ian’s Favourite Rescue Case: Lamut

Lamut (meaning 'peach' in Thai language) was reported to the WVS Thailand rescue team almost two and a half years ago. As the main Animal Handling team was busy collecting dogs for the ITC course, I personally responded for the call for help and jumped in a truck to see how WVS might be able to help. Lamut was suffering from the worst skin condition I had ever seen, with open sores, infected eyes, 100% fur loss and the most wretched smell imaginable. On the day of her rescue, despite all of the abuse and terror she had endured for at least the last few months, Lamut was the sweetest and most loving dog I had seen in my six months in Thailand. It took the amazing care of Dr Poppy and the shelter team just over four months to nurse Lamut back to an acceptable level for rehoming. During that time the entire team had fallen in love with her quirky and loving nature! Without too much consideration, on the day Dr Poppy confirmed she was ready for adoption I promptly filled out the paperwork myself and introduced Lamut to my family home, offering her the chance to stay with us and enjoy the kind of life every dog deserves. To this day she thrives in a domestic environment and, other than a few physical scars, it's hard to believe she was rescued from such awful conditions. She is now living with an 18 month old boy (my son and her best human friend) as well as a rather annoying but ridiculously cute Golden Retriever puppy named Neo. I want nothing more than to replicate this story and spread the same happiness Lamut and our family feel to the thousands of other dogs in similar situations across southeast Asia. Without enough homes to go around for every dog in need, a clear focus on sterilisation and humane population control is key to ensuring that the cycle of unwanted and dumped dogs is broken and the suffering endured by so many animals is alleviated as efficiently, quickly and humanely as possible. Meet Dr Giacomo “It has been almost two years since I joined WVS Thailand as Clinical Director, and it feels like ages ago considering the number of new things, changes and improvements that the charity and this centre has gone through. Since the first contact with Dr Luke Gamble, I’ve been thrilled at the idea of working for an honourable international organisation such as WVS because my previous experiences as a volunteer have always been great with them. WVS Thailand has proved to be a very welcoming environment, with some brilliant staff members who are very proactive to promote and implement modern animal welfare concepts in the surrounding community. Being part of all of this is one of the most rewarding experiences I could think of! Dr G’s Favourite Rescue Case: Goth

Out of the many rescue cases we attended, one that I will always keep with me relates to a dog called “Goth”, one of the first long staying patient that I can remember. He had a massive mast cell tumour and had to undergo various surgical procedures. He needed daily check-ups with the vets to attend to his wound, cleaning it, flushing it, bandaging it. This little dog showed me what resilience is, and over the weeks became a real friend. A real bond like those only happen a few times in a lifetime and this is where my WVS journey really began! If you would like to work alongside our terrific Thai team, why not join us on a surgical course, volunteer to help teach at the centre, or join us on one of our many outreach projects!

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