After living and teaching in Yangon for a couple of years, I was more and more disturbed by the plight of the stray dogs. They were everywhere, and many suffered from hunger, disease, injuries, and the risk of being poisoned. One particular dog I saw on my way to school every day, caught my attention because she looked so forlorn and was so skinny. I named her Lucy and started feeding her. She was extremely fearful in the beginning, but soon learned that I meant her no harm. I would feed her and spend time with her every day. We formed a very strong relationship. I did what I could for Lucy and the rest of her family and all the dogs on the streets where I lived. I fed them, got them vaccinated and whenever possible, spayed and neutered. I also tried to get as many as I could fostered or adopted.
Sadly, Lucy and her family were poisoned, and I was devastated. I will probably never get over the loss and heartache I felt, and that was when I realized that there were many “Lucys” on the street suffering, and all deserve to be helped. Something more needed to be done to help the strays in Yangon. Just feeding the dogs in my area and hoping that they would survive poisoning, illness or injury was not enough.
Together with a fellow animal loving teacher and a wonderful parent of one of my students, we decided to set up a shelter. Thanks to the generous donation of some land, our first shelter was established. Initially, our goal was to house 40-50 dogs, and use the TNR (trap-neuter-return) method to decrease the stray dog population in the long run. However, our efforts to stop the poisoning of street dogs have been unsuccessful, and therefore, releasing dogs back onto the street was not an option.
Our shelter was soon full, as we would constantly receive calls from people begging us to take in more dogs. Fortunately, another larger, piece of land was generously donated and the shelter was relocated. We are currently at capacity with approximately 500 dogs. It is heartbreaking to have to tell people we cannot accept any more dogs, but it is a struggle financially to care for the dogs already at the shelter.
We will continue to try and persuade the local authorities to use more humane dog population management. Our hope is to bring in organizations who will help with TNR to reduce the stray population and mass vaccinations to prevent the spread of diseases like rabies. Many of these organizations however will not provide their services until the poisoning stops. Campaigning against dog poisoning is thus a priority of YAS.
As one can imagine, running YAS is costly, and as we receive no government funding, we rely totally on the generosity of people who donate, foster and adopt. There are so many wonderful dogs at the shelter looking for their forever homes. Please, contribute to the Yangon Animal Shelter. With your help, we can ensure that Lucy’s sad story does not keep repeating itself.
Yangon Animal Shelter is registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Refer to: CH49815