Eleven years ago, Michael J. Baines moved from his home in Sweden to Chonburi in northern Thailand.
Michael is a chef, but he quickly learned that the stray dogs and cats in his new town needed to be fed even more than the human residents. He simply couldn’t stand by and watch dozens of abandoned animals starve on the streets.
“I feel sad [for homeless dogs] and want to help them all,” he said. “Especially when I see a lonely dog that does not belong to any pack, probably dumped, which is very common here. I always have food and fresh water in my car, so whenever I see a dog, I stop and give it food and water.”
Over the course of five years, Michael began feeding about 80 stray dogs each and every day. He quickly became known as “the man that feeds dogs,” as he provided sick, malnourished animals with food, water, and medical care. He paid for all of this out of his own pocket, spending upwards of $1,500 a month — and finding homes for 30-40 dogs!
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Eventually, The Man That Rescues Dogs became a nonprofit organization, run entirely through donations and volunteers.
Over a decade later, Michael has rescued more than 2,000 dogs! Many of these animals were badly injured and left for dead, so his team nursed them back to health.
The shelter currently has 30 people on staff as well as an army of volunteers, and they’re all dedicated to saving as many abandoned animals as they can. They currently care for about 600 dogs every day, specializing in paralyzed or disabled pups who require wheelchairs or walkers to get around.
The transformation pictures the shelter shares on social media are breathtaking. So many of these animals were found broken, yet Michael and his team managed to turn them into healthy, happy little ones ready to start their new life in a forever home!
The shelter’s daily routine is grueling, starting with cleaning at 5 a.m., walks by 6, and then breakfast for all 600 dogs. At 7 a.m. their truck takes to the streets to feed an additional 350 stray dogs in the community. The day progresses with physiotherapy for any pups with disabilities, more walks and exercise, dinner, and endless cleaning.
“We also operate a free-of-charge clinic,” said Chris Chidichimo, Michael’s assistant. “It is booked solid every day. We have two veterinarians and one assistant working full-time. We don’t charge for our service as long as we can spay or neuter their pet. It’s more important for us to have healthy, vaccinated, and sterilized animals in our community than it is to turn a profit.”
As you would expect, it costs a lot of money to run this kind of shelter. “We are funded entirely on donations,” Chris explained. “It costs 40,000 baht ($1,350 USD) per day every single day for us to operate.”
Unfortunately, donations plummeted by 40 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic, so they’ve had to suspend their monthly spay and neuter programs and stay open fewer days of the week. They’re actively seeking donations of money, food, and supplies in order to keep doing their important work.
Despite everything it takes to keep The Man That Rescues Dogs shelter going, Chris said watching them thrive makes it all worth it. “When you see a paralyzed dog in their wheelchair for the first time, running free and smiling, that’s right up there as one of the best parts of the process,” he said.
Michael went to Thailand to feed people and wound up giving thousands of stray animals a second chance at a happy life! It just goes to show that while we never know where life will lead us, if we’re guided by kindness, we’ll always end up where we need to be!
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