Lanta Animal Welfare is a not for profit charity on the island of Ko Lanta in Thailand. They do amazing work, improving the lives of local cats & dogs.
I’ve always been an animal person, and good animal welfare organisations are important to me. I’ve donated time, money and effort to several animal welfare organisations over the years and continue to do so – at home and overseas.
First, let’s talk about animal tourist attractions overall. As a general rule, I do not believe in supporting the animal tourism industry.
On my first every trip overseas – to Thailand in 2006, when I was 21 – I did go to 2 animal attractions:
- An “elephant safari” – a day trip, where we rode an elephant through the jungle for a while and then watched the elephants play soccer and paint pictures
- Phuket Zoo
The elephant day, I must admit, I loved at the time. The elephants seemed healthy and happy, the staff seemed to treat them well, and it was a crazy experience for me. But looking back on it, all I can think about is how awful it is! Making elephants play soccer in front of a crowd of people!?!?
Phuket Zoo was one of the most awful things I’ve seen!
Animals in small cages, with no toys or vegetation. Elephants tied to the cement floor by chains to their legs. I felt sick. I almost burst into tears.
We left within minutes.
Since then, I have avoided animal tourist attractions. I’ve been on the odd camel ride through the desert (this is the main form of transport in these areas), and the occasional well respected zoo that’s part of a global conservation effort (though I still have reservations about these).
There is a lot more information about animal welfare in tourism on the Trip Advisor Blog.
Lanta Animal Welfare – Not a Tourist Attraction
Although Lanta Animal Welfare is on Trip Advisor and encourages tourists to visit, it is NOT there for your entertainment. Do not expect to go there and see dogs wearing clown hats and doing tricks!
What you will see are about 50 cats and 50 dogs who have been abused, dumped, neglected and otherwise treated poorly due to human behaviour. Some have fully recovered, and some are still very sick – many, although healthy now, still have the physical and mental scars of the trauma they’ve been through.
Lanta Animal Welfare is a non profit charity based in south west Thailand. We are dedicated to improving the lives of all animals, relieving pain and suffering.
On a visit to Lanta Animal Welfare, you can:
- have a look around
- play with the cats and dogs (helps them to socialise with people and increases their chances of adoption)
- walk a dog (they need exercise as well as socialising)
- have a guided tour of the facility, and meet all of the animals
- buy things in their gift shop (all profits go straight back to helping the animals)
- donate money
You’ll notice very quickly that the focus is NOT on your entertainment. The focus is on:
- education about animal welfare and care
- trying to get you to adopt a cat or dog (yes, you can take them home to most countries)
- donate money so they can continue to help
At Lanta Animal Welfare we believe passionately that we all have a responsibility to protect the animals around us. We strive to raise awareness of the hardship of homeless, sick, and injured animals, the benefits of adopting an animal in need, and our mission to end the homeless animal crisis.
The Work Lanta Animal Welfare Does
You can learn more about the work they do by checking out the Lanta Animal Welfare website or by visiting them in person.
They do some amazing work:
- Rescuing stray, mistreated, injured cats and dogs
- Nursing them back to health
- Sterilisation/desexing of all animals to reduce the number of unwanted pets on the island
- Socialisation of the cats and dogs – with each other and with people (important for rehoming)
- Education in local schools, community and with tourists
- Rehoming/adoption of the cats and dogs – to locals and tourists alike
- Sterilisation/desexing and general vet care for pets in the local community
How You Can Help Lanta Animal Welfare
They desperately need all the help they can get. It costs a lot of money to run Lanta Animal Welfare, as well as the expertise of volunteer carers and vets. They have plans to renovate and expand the facility so that they can house more animals and improve the current facilities – but they need to raise much needed funds to make this a reality.
How you can help Lanta Animal Welfare:
- Donate money – either in person when you visit, or via the donate page on their website
- Visit LAW – if you’re on Ko Lanta, Thailand then pop in and visit. You don’t need to organise this in advance – just show up between 9am – 5pm. Please donate and/or buy something (perhaps a kitten??) while you’re there
- Adopt a cat or dog – NEVER buy a pet from a petshop or breeder. Always adopt from a shelter/welfare organisation. You can do this through Lanta Animal Welfare and save one (or two?) of these beautiful little guys
- Visit Time for Lime – this is a Ko Lanta Thai cooking school and restaurant/bar, and their profits go to Lanta Animal Welfare
- Volunteer – if you’re in Ko Lanta, drop on by. Help by socialising with the animals and walking a dog. If you’re available longer term you can volunteer on a more formal basis and help look after these animals
What are your thoughts on animal tourist attractions?
Have you been involved with animal welfare projects at home or overseas?
Let me know in the comments below! 🙂