Powerful Woman Turns ‘Speck of Gold’ into Haven for Animals
Written by Marianne Willemse of Love Animal House in Thailand
In the rolling hills 13 kms north of Chiang Mai, a speck of gold dust barely visible on Google Earth has become a haven for over 100 abandoned pets and abused farm animals. We have 30 cattle and buffalo, rescued from slaughterhouses. Abandoned and abused dogs and cats are always “flying” over the gate. And then there’s the illegal dog meat market. We’ve been on its tail for 6 years now, rescuing more than 1,000 dogs and inching toward a law that we are told will be fast tracked once 50,000 Thai nationals sign the petition.
Our sanctuary, Love Animal House, is known by the locals as “the house that loves animals.” We never had a sign up, but people and animals always found us. You could call it jungle traffic.
“Yes, that’s them, down the road there,” people say. “You can’t miss it. The only house around with a foreigner, a bear and a pig in it! You’ll hear the dogs barking.”
Back in the day, I was the only person around who would trek 20 kms to rescue a poisoned elephant in the middle of the jungle, or pull a burning buffalo out of a collapsing barn, catch escaped monkeys on rampage or pick a mangy dog off the street. I had no prejudice. I didn’t care what species it was. If it needed help and no one else did anything, I HAD to help it. I never thought about tomorrow. I would always find a way. But now today, I must admit, I do need help.
A Time for Others to Circle Around These Animals
My personal resources are now gone. Three years ago, everything I brought with me to Thailand had been spent, dissolved into fuzzy friends. Now I take to the streets of Chiang Mai, spending hours each night to collect $100 – $200. New generation Thais want change. They love what I am doing, but animal welfare is still new.
I have become popular as ‘the animal lady’ and have counted a lot of baht (Thai currency) in coins over a year. Everybody gives a little bit and so it is nearly enough to take care of the animals in need, but I have to collect it myself. People used to give me 10 baht (30 cents US) because they’d seen me on TV but after seeing me picking up cats and dogs everywhere I campaign, people have started to donate 100 baht ($3 US) and lots of hugs! Sadly, my volunteers have no luck collecting donations as they are not ‘recognized’ as I am and people simply won’t give to them.
This has been going on for three years now and I’m drained. A lot of work has been done, but I need help now so as not to collapse physically. I can’t keep doing 18 hour days and begging for help at the market for hours each night. I usually get to sleep at about 2-3 am and then I start work again at 6 am. I’m over 60 and need to sit down and let my experiences flow so that people may learn from them. (see Marianne’s book)
I will never retire from my mission to liberate the souls of animals. It’s just come time for me to ask for help.
To make a charitable donation to the Love Animal House haven for rescued animals, click here