Karin Hawelka and Corinna Gogel
and Corinna, caring for dogs.
Regardless of whether you travel to Chiang Mai as a
tourist or live here as an expat, it is not possible to avoid the street
dogs. When I first arrived, I was shocked to see so many dogs, some in
terrible condition and I would always find the time to befriend a couple.
Now, like so many other people, I tend to look above them when I walk down
the street; I have become blind to them.
Karin Hawelka and Corinna Gogel are two ladies from Germany who refuse to
ignore the problem. They made a promise to themselves and to the stray dogs
of Chiang Mai that they would help. They set up a shelter called Care for
Dogs, hoping that they could rescue dogs in need as well as sterilising up
to 20 female strays, temple and village dogs per month.
Karin first moved to Thailand 12 years ago. She was working in Human
Resources in Chiang Mai and Bangkok and stayed for three years. It was on
this trip that she made her first canine friend, a street dog that she named
Dao. ‘I fell in love with her and decided that I was taking her back to
Germany.’ Back in Germany she met her husband and by pure chance, 3ฝ
years ago, he got a job with the same company that first brought Karin to
Thailand all of those years ago. ‘Me and Dao were finally heading home to
It was not long before they were all settled in Chiang Mai and Karin was
once again moved by the plight of the street dogs. She began to rescue them
and take them back to her house. ‘My husband is so understanding and
luckily loves dogs himself. The only request he made was that he wouldn’t
like to end up with 10 dogs (at that time we had only Dao).’ Today, they
have 11 living at their house and a further 65 at the dog shelter which is
located next door. The shelter was set up in July this year to provide a
sanctuary for street and temple dogs. There are currently 14 adult dogs for
adoption, 12 adult dogs receiving medical treatment or after-care following
sterilisations, and 39 puppies, including two newborn litters of 17 puppies.
Her partner at the rescue centre is Corinna Gogel, a single parent with two
children and 17 dogs! She told me ‘I did have 24 dogs living with me, but
this was too many. When we set up the shelter, I re-housed seven.’ She has
always loved dogs, as have her children. Like Karin, she cannot simply walk
past a dog in pain; she must stop and see if she can help. ‘If I do not
stop, I have nightmares and cannot sleep.’
Corinna has also been living in Chiang Mai for 3ฝ years. She spent
years travelling back and forth between Thailand and Germany and finally
decided to take the plunge and move out here. ‘I spent one winter in
Germany and that was enough to convince me,’ she said. Before establishing
Care for Dogs, Corinna volunteered for another dog rescue organisation. She
did not know Karin when she first came to Chiang Mai, but it was not long
before they both met and realised that they shared a mutual love for dogs.
Together, with the help of an American, Amandine Lecesne, they established
Care for Dogs.
I arrived at the sanctuary to meet Karin and Corinna and was welcomed by
them both, as well as dozens of gorgeous puppies and dogs. I was immediately
made to feel welcome - by both the dogs and the volunteers! Corinna showed
me around the shelter including the enclosure for the very sick dogs and the
enclosure for the new dogs, where a mother lay nursing her two-day old
puppies. Every dog there has a story and all of them are looking for a new
I was particularly moved by the plight of Hannah, a three-legged homeless
dog that was rescued after being in a road accident. Her leg was amputated
after Karin and Corinna found her. She’ll probably never find a home
because most people want cute puppies or loyal guard dogs. The truth is that
Hannah is one of the most loveable and playful dogs you could meet.
Poor Valentino is almost totally bald from the severest mange I have ever
seen. Again, he is looking for a home, but it is doubtful he will find one
while he is undergoing treatment. When Amandine and Corinna found him, it
took her weeks to gain his trust and bring him the shelter. He was
incredibly nervous of humans but today came out to say hello, tail wagging
and head held up high. It is hoped that within two months he will have a
full coat of fur and maybe then someone will adopt him.
Unfortunately, Care for Dogs can take only urgent cases into their care as
the sanctuary is almost full to capacity. When I asked what Corinna and
Karin really need, they told me ‘We urgently want to re-house these dogs
into good homes. They all deserve to be looked after and loved for the rest
of their lives.’ The organisation also needs sponsorship. ‘Caring for
these dogs costs a lot of money. While we will always do our best for the
dogs in our care, we cannot afford everything. Vet bills can be very
expensive, dog food can be very expensive, treatment can be very expensive.
If people cannot adopt any of these dogs, we would very much appreciate the
chance to be considered for sponsorship.’
When asked about the future, Karin and Corinna have no plans to change the
way they are living. The dogs mean everything to them and they are not about
to give up their fight. They do hope to set up their own mobile vet clinic,
but like everything this needs financing. They already visit temples and
villages on a weekly basis to feed and take care of the dogs, as well as
treating any minor ailments. They take female dogs to the vet for
sterilisation, a procedure that is often too expensive for many owners, and
spend time playing with them.
Both of the women are extremely modest about what they are doing. They run
the shelter because they love dogs and because they cannot ignore suffering.
I asked Karin if she ever got discouraged by the mammoth task that they have
taken on. She quoted a sentence from their website: ‘Saving one dog
won’t change the world, but surely, the world will change for that one
dog.’ As she said it, my hair stood on end and I got a lump in my throat.
I was sitting among dogs that had been saved from a world of fear, abuse and
What these two women are doing is truly remarkable. They are offering care
to animals that would otherwise go unnoticed by so many; it is much more
than a full time job. The list of daily duties is endless. If you love dogs
and would like to help out, you can contact Karin and Corinna for
information. Equally, if you think you could offer a home to any of the
dogs, you will be rewarded with a loving and loyal companion. Please visit
www.carefordogs.org for more information or you can email them on:
[email protected] and [email protected]
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