​​​Lanta Animal Welfare


Lanta Animal Welfare

Koh Lanta, Thailand

August 26 - September 10

By: Rachel Grandon


Lanta Animal Welfare is a volunteer-run dog and cat clinic on the island of Koh Lanta. The woman who started it all, Junie, quit her job and moved to Thailand to end the suffering of thousands of homeless, abandoned and injured animals.To date, they have sterilised and treated over 15,000 animals and continues to educate the local community on the importance of sterilisation and vaccinations for their local animal population.


During my time at Lanta, multiple cats and dogs were dropped off at the clinic each day (sometimes by the litter), and all needed immediate medical attention. Due to the volume of animals brought it, it is physically impossible to house each one and adopt them to loving families. Unfortunately, that is just the situation in Thailand at the moment, pet ownership is not similar to what we consider it here in the Western World. We would return animals to their households or to the area they were retrieved, unless that area proved to be unsafe or dangerous.

Animals that are too severely injured to leave the clinic will be rehabilitated and out up for adoption. These are the resident animals that I took care of on a daily basis. We walked a number of dogs on trails to the beach, conducted aqua therapy with injured dogs needing special attention and worked to socialize these once “pack dogs” into adoptable in-home pets. The daily work was challenging and many times discouraging - with the lack of resources and complete dependence on donations, you cannot save every animal that comes through the doors. The overpopulation of cats and dogs on the island was at times upsetting, but it made me realize why Junie started the clinic in the first place (she still lives on the property today).  


Here are some success stories of animals finding their furever homes: 


Lanta Animal Welfare

Koh Lanta, Thailand



Instagram: @lantaanimalwelfare

RAD Dad Rescue: Bella Smalls

About three years ago I was going through one of the most difficult transition periods of my life. I had just gotten out of a nearly 6 year relationship that had ended on fairly strong terms and in order to keep it as such, I had to make a decision that would essentially change the rest of my life: I gave her our beloved dog that we had adopted and raised together since she was just a puppy. This was truly the heartbreak of my life, losing this life that I had nurtured and been with since the first day. Soon thereafter, I decided to start researching the possibility of rescuing another dog. 


My mother, having been a very active member of the animal rescue community, from adopting and fostering dogs and cats to wild and abused Macaws, eventually put me in touch with a rescuer with a vast network up and down the east coast and after describing the few characteristics that I was looking for, I went out to a foster in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, to meet Bella. 


I really had no real intention of adopting Bella that October morning, but I was somewhat grieving and figured I'd just go and meet her. 


Upon my arrival, a woman came bursting out of this brownstone looking clearly disheveled and disorganized. Bella came running out and excitedly greeted me. This is when I realized just how badly she had been treated. I had only seen one photo of her, so when i saw a huge open gash on her neck, only covered by her matted fur cooped covering it with vaseline and her skin to her bones I was really thrown off and not sure what to do. Its then that a man on the first floor of the building came out with his two large and aggressive dogs and started arguing intensely with the woman that I was meeting with Bella. They clearly had a history and bad blood, and before I knew it, this man had released his two dogs on myself and Bella. That's when Bella jumped in front of me, weak and clearly not prepared to protect me against two healthy Pitbulls (I'll go on the record here and say that them being Pits had nothing to do with their aggressiveness, as their owner was clearly the aggressive one). I picked up Bella, who is mostly German and I ran across the street. 


It was a wild situation to say the least, but there was no chance that I was going to leave this beautiful, wounded dog in that environment, so I did what I had to do. Got the papers signed, gave my donation and got out of there as quickly as possible. 


Bella refused to go down the subway stairs (she still does), putting all of her weight down if I tried to pick her up. So we walked to the corner of Pacific Avenue in Crown Heights and waited for what seems in retrospect like hours. I remember us sharing our first real look at each other and I said something like, "well... I guess this is it". Finally a black cab stopped for us, Nicholas. I'll never forget this guy. He stopped and asked how long we had been waiting for someone to stop and I told him forever. He agreed that nobody was going to pick us up and I gave him $100 for a $50 trip back to Washington Heights. Bella was finally home with me.



Even though she was home and we averted disaster. I hadn't realized just how emotionally traumatized she was. She wouldn't even look at me for the first month that she was with me. She would straight up sit and stare at the wall in the corner when I would encourage her to come sit with me. I would be sitting there thinking, "Well this is my life now. I got this dog who fuckin hates me". I started to realize that she would get particularly excited when women would come over. Friends, my mother, whoever, she would lose it. Everytime a woman would leave our apartment, Bella would get all hyped up like she was finally getting picked up by her real mom. I had to be like, "no, no, no, you're stuck here with me". Either way, this all left me to think that whoever messed with her in her past life was a man.


It's been three years now and we're still groovin'. Everyday she gets more sociable and shows love to me more and more. She is very emotional and has the most emotive eyes you've ever seen on a dog. Emotive eyes that she constantly rolls at me whenever I scold her for something, like she's a teenage girl. It's kind of a trip. We are the best of roommates, but I've learned a lot about the wide spectrum of rescue and adoption scenarios. Rescuing and living with Bella has been a totally different experience than when I adopted a puppy with a girlfriend earlier in life. Raising a puppy is tough in itself, but emotional tests around things like trust with Bella is not something i had ever experienced, nor could ever have imagined. It wasn't easy, but it was one of the best decisions of my entire life. We don't know exactly how old she is, but her new birthday is in March. She'll be six.

Here is how having a pet will improve your mental health

Most pet owners consider pets part of the family.  If you have a pet, you probably find the companionship soothing.  And you may not be surprised to hear that science agrees with you.  Studies show that relationships with pets make you feel happier and healthier. 


The power of pets

Pet owners take comfort in the soft purr of a beloved cat or the wagging tail of the family dog.  Experts explain that the responsibilities associated with pet ownership give a sense of purpose, and pets also offer unconditional love. 

People with mental illnesses especially rely on their pets.  NPR cites recent studies and notes, “People with mental illnesses often see their social groups shrink and find themselves alienated from their friends. For many of these people … animals can break through the isolation. They give affection without needing to understand the disorder.”  In one of the studies, participants were asked to rank relationships. They considered their pets closer than family members, therapists and friends. 

The results are compelling.  Some professionals feel so strongly about using pets for mental illness therapies they’re incorporating animals into their programs.  Researchers found a number of specific ways pets improve mental health: 

●      Fresh air and sunshine.  Getting outside with your pet not only gets you moving but exposes you to vitamin D from the sun.  Vitamin D is proven to fight cancer, improve heart health, and lowers depression. 

●      Reduces stress.  Petting an animal releases oxytocin, a feel-good chemical in your body that lowers the stress hormone cortisol. 

●      Live in the moment.  Pets engage you in a way that keeps your mind in the present instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. 

●      Good company.  Pets ease loneliness.  Some pets are sensitive to your mood and seek you out when you feel blue. 

Assistance for addicts

Some researchers found that companion animals have great healing potential for addiction. With as little as one hour per week interacting with shelter dogs, participants in a study exhibited fewer negative feelings like depression and anger. 

Fins, fur or feathers

It turns out that as far as making you feel good, the kind of pet doesn’t much matter.  According to Time, researchers found strong evidence that all sorts of animal interaction is beneficial.  Studies looked at pets such as horses, dogs, fish and crickets.  They revealed that people of all ages and with a variety of disorders routinely found comfort engaging with animals.

Other options

Pets are not for everyone.  Sometimes the responsibilities or expenses are prohibitive, or the timing isn’t right for other reasons.  Here are some things to think about before committing to a pet:

●      What will you do with your pet when you travel?

●      Do you have the money to cover veterinary and other expenses?

●      Are you ready for the daily care of a pet?

●      Some pets live a decade or more.  Are you willing to take on a long-term commitment?

●      If you suffer from severe anxiety or depression, will a pet add to your stress level?

You have other options if pet ownership isn’t right for you.  ReachOut suggests any of the following:

●      Help at an animal shelter

●      Pet sit for a traveling family member or friend

●      Walk or lounge with a pet belonging to a buddy or relative

Your coping companion

Pets are great additions to mental health therapies.  They provide companionship that can provide mental and physical health boosts, and it seems almost any sort of animal interaction is valuable.  If owning a pet isn’t a good choice for you, find ways to spend time with companion animals.  However you decide to add animals to your lifestyle, you will reap the mental health benefits.

Written by Cindy Aldrige

Perfect Fit: Dog Friendly Living

Finding The Right Home For You & Your Dogs


For many people, a dog is much more than just a pet. It’s a member of the family, maybe even closer to having a child than an animal. Whether you just have one dog or several, you work hard to take care of them.


When you need to move into a new home, your dogs can complicate things a bit. You’re moving them as well, so you need to take their needs into account. From packing to settling into a new place, read on for some tips for making sure this move works for your entire family. It all starts with asking some questions beforehand.

Image Source: Pixabay

What To Ask Before Buying

Obviously, you’re going to look for a house that fits your needs, but there are a few questions to ask in order to find a pet-friendly house that meets your dogs’ needs as well.

  1. Are there any laws in your prospective hometown limiting what breeds you can have?

  2. Is there a housing association that limits breeds, weights, and sizes of dogs permitted?

  3. Will there be enough space (inside the home and outside in the yard) for your dogs?

Energetic and large dogs don’t work well in small places, whereas small dogs often prefer a mix of space and tight quarters.


Once you know the rules, there are a few additions questions you need answers to, such as:

  • Is the backyard secured by a fence?

  • Do the neighbors have dogs that will create a barking cacophony when yours arrive?

  • Are there stairs that an older pet dog cannot climb?

  • Are there any dog parks or good places to walk your dogs nearby?

  • Where is the closest vet, groomers, and kennel?

By having all these questions answered, you can save a lot of time and hassle when looking for a new place.

Tips For Packing & Moving

Now that you’ve found the right home, you have to start packing up. Dogs crave stability, but packing and moving take that away. Here are a few tips for making sure your dogs get through these processes.

  • Pack slowly. By making changes slowly over weeks or even months, there’s less stress for your dogs to endure.

  • As moving day gets closer, take your dogs on more walks to help them stay relaxed.

  • Leave your dogs’ belongings (toys, beds, bowls, etc.) to pack last. This lets dogs have some predictability while things are changing in their home environment.

  • Consider keeping your dogs with a friend or dog sitter on moving day. This will avoid stressing out your dogs while making sure they’re not underfoot while you try to carry heavy boxes to the truck. (And if you’re hiring movers, this helps even more.)

Helping Your Dog Adjust

Moving day has finally ended. You pick up your dogs and take them to their new home. At first, they’ll likely be excited — but that can fade as they realize the old home isn’t coming back. That’s why you need to help your dogs adjust to their new home.


Redfin recommends that you start back on your dogs’ normal routine. Feed, walk, and play at the same times you used to. Again, dogs want predictability, and sticking to the old routine will help tremendously. You’ll also want to spend some time playing with them and taking them for walks around the neighborhood.

A New Place For All Of You

Moving is always a bit stressful, but it’s worse for dogs since they don’t know what’s going on. Since they are part of your family, you need to get some answers before moving. Then slowly pack up your belongings and find a dog sitter for moving day. Once everyone is in the new place, help your dogs adjust to their new environment. This way, all of you can love your new home.


Written by Cindy Aldrige

RAD Dog Rescues: Mitchell

"The story of how my dog, Mitchell was born starts with a couple of amazing women, Jen & Michelle doing outreach helping dogs on Long Island. In February of 2015 they had their eyes on helping these 3 chained pitt mixes, 2 small dog mixes and a litter of emaciated puppies that were being sold off. The puppies were living inside the house while the others were chained / kept outside with no shelter. The owners of the house used it for a prostitution ring, drug dealing and dog breeding for dog fights. There was an unfortunate event where several dogs mauled a person in the house and those dogs had to be euthanized. Soon, something needed to be done about the remaining dogs. As PMAR took on the two small mixes it became obvious that one female was pregnant, fearing she would need a c-section as she was only about 25 lbs to the males 80-90 pounds. 


This is where Mitchell's story actually starts, being born in a warm and loving foster home in VT. This foster home also took care of his mom and aunt and did everything to save the puppies. Not everyone in the litter survived and Mitchell was almost adopted out to another family but because he was seen to have hind end oddness (that he most likely got from being squished in his little momma) they passed on him. Today, Mitchell is healthy and athletic. He loves to run and play. He even joins Vermont Dog Pack’s Camp to run with his friends. He’s living a great life along with the other dogs and puppies that came out of this horrible situation. 


Pibbles and More Animal Rescue took the two small girl dogs together (the same bitch that gave birth to Mitchell 2 weeks later). A Home Fur Now Rescue took the 3 chained boys. And Victory 4 the Voiceless Animal Rescue took some of the other puppies. This is more of Mitchell’s families story and what she and the other dogs and puppies went through in Long Island.


This story is a bit long and complicated, but that’s probably how most of our dog’s parents lives were and how rescuing dogs can be. It’s easy to stop at our personal dogs story but if we look back we see how bad it has been for some of their parents and how that misfortune is passed down or sometimes turned into a fortunate situation thanks to the volunteers and shelters. I’m fortunate to know the true story that is the rescue that lead to my dog, Mitchell’s life."