When an English teacher living in the city of Songkhla, Thailand decided to take home a lost puppy she found wandering the streets, she probably didn’t realize just how much her life was about to change. Indeed, that act of canine compassion would soon extend way beyond her first puppy – to the point that she’s now dedicated her entire life to helping the poor pooches of Songkhla. If you’re an animal lover, this inspiring story will be music to your ears.
Tamara Johnston hails from Australia, but she’s currently living in the south of Thailand. She originally moved there to work as an English teacher, but after spending some time in the city, her true calling would soon make itself clear.
One day, while walking through the streets of Songkhla, Johnston noticed a tiny puppy sat outside a temple. With no mother pooch in sight, it seemed that the poor pup was all alone in the world. Johnston, then, knew something had to be done.
Without a moment’s hesitation, Johnston scooped the four-week-old puppy up into her arms, and decided to take her home. And she’d soon ended up adopting the mutt, who she named Bella, as her very own.
If she hadn’t stepped in to help, Bella likely wouldn’t have survived. Indeed, Johnston told The Dodo, “If not killed by a car, she would have soon been sick due to disease such as parvo, distemper, blood parasites or mange – this is very common here.”
But this wasn’t the end of Johnston’s relationship with the lost dogs of Thailand. In fact, there was no way she could have known at the time just what a slippery slope she’d started on. But it was soon to turn out for the best.
Indeed, Johnston quickly began noticing dogs all around Songkhla who were in need of help. Whether they were diseased, starving or simply neglected strays, these animals were all in dire need of rescue – and seemingly nobody was going to be the one to do it.
In Australia, Europe and the U.S. there are plenty of rescue centers, shelters and even pounds that are prepared to take in and care for dogs. But in Thailand, they are “very few and far between,” according to Johnston.
One of the few dog shelters in Songkhla is run by the government, but it has little state funding, meaning the dogs aren’t looked after properly. Indeed, when Johnston visited the shelter, she was disgusted by what she found.
According to Johnston, the lack of funding meant the dogs were not being treated properly. As a result, many did not survive for very long, suffering from illnesses induced by ticks and fleas that were running rampant around the shelter.
Johnston quickly decided she needed to do something about this problem. And so, she began taking more and more dogs into her own home, giving them shelter, food and even medical treatment.
Of course, she couldn’t take an unlimited number of dogs into her own home. To that end, then, she began trying to find rescue homes for the pups. And many of them are now living happily in forever homes with families as far as the U.S.
When Johnston spotted a dog she couldn’t physically take home for whatever reason – perhaps her home was too full already – she didn’t just leave it by the wayside. Indeed, she still made sure that it was well-fed and received any veterinary treatment it required.
Nevertheless, Johnston soon discovered that the problem was far larger than she’d ever anticipated. And it didn’t help that people would even dump dogs with her once they heard about what she was doing.
Indeed, Johnston told The Dodo, “People here often take pictures of me and laugh, instead of offering a helping hand. Vets are not always the most helpful or responsible. People will ask for my help without offering any.”
“So, on top of my actual job of rescuing and treating, I also have to deal with so many outside obstacles that just make my job even more difficult,” she said. “But I’m determined and will never give up on these dogs or any other animal that needs my help.”
As of June 2017, Johnston had a whopping 38 dogs in her home, and she was taking care of another 50 that had been abandoned on the streets. It was a situation that was quickly becoming unmanageable.
Indeed, she absolutely had her hands full in her current situation. And after six years of caring for dogs in her own home, she knew something bigger was needed. So, she launched an official rescue group, called Thai Street Paws.
By now, Johnston’s basically turned her back on her life in Australia to help out these poor pups. According to Thai Street Paws’ Facebook page, she sold pretty much all her possessions and rented out her house back home in order to move to Thailand permanently.
Her dream is to one day build a clinic for her rescue group, where she’ll be able to offer helpful services for dogs like basic veterinary treatment and even sterilizations. But at the moment, she’s simply doing her best to ensure as many lost dogs as possible survive.
And despite teaching bringing her to Thailand, it’s actually the dogs that are keeping here there. “I know I can’t save every single dog, but I want to help as many as I can,” Johnston said. “That is the reason I continue to stay here. I want to make a difference.”
There’s no doubt that that is exactly what Johnston is doing. And we’re sure the dogs would agree – homeless, abandoned and with nobody to care for them, they probably thought their time was up. But thanks to the loving nature of people like Johnston, it seems there’s still hope for the poor pups yet.