Volunteering with Dogs at the Elephant Nature Park in Thailand
Gill from the United Kingdom went to volunteer at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand and she loved the experience so participated twice.
Here she shares her experience and top tips if you are considering to apply.
What is the Elephant Nature Park?
Elephant Nature Park is a sanctuary for elephants in Thailand and animals like dogs and cats. The first time I was volunteering with elephants and then the second it was time to go “hard core” and work with dogs which is very hands-on, very busy and super rewarding!
How much did it cost?
Per week: THB 5000.
What did I ﬁnd useful to wear/bring?
- Long sleeved shirts for the evening.
- Long trousers for the evening.
- Insect repellant (I preferred the long cloth for the evenings as I hate being bitten/stung by mossies and other insects)
- Toileteries and towel
- Flashlight to go to bathroom in the night
How to get there?
Volunteers can either go to the ENP ofﬁce in Chiang Mai or ENP can collect you from your accommodation within the city.
What happens on arrival?
Drop luggage at the house, a show around and explanation of the project, lunch
8 am - 4.30 - 5pm with a lunch break
Routine and daily tasks:
- Looking after the dogs in the clinic - feeding, walking, grooming, cleaning out their homes., giving them love.
- Taking dogs from other runs on walks.
- Tick removing.
Working with therapy dogs:
We also had speciﬁc tasks too and mine was helping the “therapy dogs”. This was so rewarding.
There are 3 dogs in a special run where they have a tiled ﬂoor as they cannot walk properly and would hurt themselves dragging themselves along on dirt. 2 of us volunteers would work with them on a daily basis, helping with exercises to strengthen and re-align the back legs of 2 of them, and hitching the other little lady onto her wheelchair which supports her rear as she only has a withered leg left there and the wheelchair enables her to go out for walks and strengthen her front legs.
Absolutely amazing to see the progress these dogs are making. It’s also another example of the depth of help that Lek, Darrick and team are prepared to give animals under their care.
Other tasks included:
Returning “clinic dogs” home after treatment. Sometimes packs need to be re-arranged, so volunteers help to move dogs around and stay with them for a period of time to ensure that the newcomers to the pack are safe and welcome.
International volunteer facilities and what is provided:
Accommodation: We had our own house with 3 bedrooms (up to 3 people per room) and a verandah and garden, where 11 dogs hung out and slept. There were also 2 x showers (hot and cold water) and 2 toilets.
Food: There’s a communal lounge/dining area for volunteers (elephant and dog volunteers), day visitors, overnight guests and regular staff members. Volunteer fees include breakfast, lunch and dinner. Food was vegetarian/vegan which makes sense in an animal welfare facility!
Laundry: You can have laundry done by local ladies for a very reasonable charge.
Massage: Local massage ladies offer sessions at reasonable rates. They're available every day from the afternoon to about 10pm. I found it a great way to ﬁnish a day.
Why volunteer at the Elephant Nature Park?
I wanted to do something meaningful on my seniors gap year in Thailand, and loved the experience. Here is why you should consider helping:
- It creates awareness and spreads education of a more compassionate world.
- Funds are needed to help their work at all levels.
- There’s a lot of work to do and willing, compassionate people are always welcome.
- There are lots of dogs there who deserve the love we can give them.
- You can also volunteer helping elephants - incredible!
Was my volunteering experience at ENP worthwhile?
It certainly was! I really enjoyed being part of a dedicated, friendly team of people who genuinely cared for the dogs. Apart from my ﬁnancial contribution I felt that the work I did was appreciated. It was an amazing time and as is the case with many volunteers, I was sad to leave. I had booked for 2 weeks and ended up staying for about 4! If you would like to do something similar search volunteering programs in Thailand today!