A man who’s dedicating his life to rescuing street dogs in Thailand after a brush with death has revealed how he’s hoping to transform the lives of dozens of animals – including an unwanted pet that came close to death after being attacked with a hammer.
Niall Harbison, a recovering alcoholic who’s originally from Ireland but now lives in the Far Eastern country, lives with around 80 dogs and plans to one day help 10,000 street dogs a month.
He told MailOnline that he vowed to change his life after being admitted to intensive care following a drinking binge sparked by depression and anxiety.
Among the many dogs he’s rescued so far is a puppy called Rodney, who he scooped up after spotting him starving, covered in sores and struggling for breath on the streets.
In just two weeks, the puppy has begun to recover thanks to medical treatments including oil baths for his skin, nourishing meals and lots of sleep.
Recovering alcoholic Niall Harbison, who’s originally from Ireland, has dedicated his life to helping transform the lives of rescue dogs in Thailand
Harbison spends around $2000-3000 per month on keeping his dog sanctuary running, alongside crowdfunding via his social media platforms, with donations helping to pay for veterinary care of the dogs that come his way.
His Instagram account has gone from just 800 followers a year ago to 272,000 today – with fans keen to see content on how he’s transforming the lives of the dogs he’s coming into contact with.
He explained how he began rescuing street dogs after he almost lost his life to alcohol abuse.
‘I started the mission after ending up in ICU in hospital. I nearly drank myself to death because I suffered from anxiety and depression. I spent three days there and when nearly dying I vowed to change my life and do something meaningful.
He said he started looking after one dog, Lucky, but ‘the bag of food just got bigger and bigger going to four dogs then eight, and then eventually up to 80 dogs per day.’
Amongst the pets he’s rescued is King Whacker, who survived a vicious hammer attack and now thrives in Harbison’s care
The dog is now thriving after being saved…Niall says he feeds around 80 dogs a day, driving around on his scooter with food
Little Rodney the puppy was close to death when he was rescued by the sanctuary, and Harbison says his fortunes have been transformed in just two weeks – after he received vital care
Niall says he’s still battling with his own demons but says he hopes that sharing his story on Instagram will help others in a similar situation
On his donorbox page, the dog lover says that the only way to ‘stop the suffering’ of street dogs is via an effective neutering and spaying programme.
Harbison says trying to care for so many rescue dogs isn’t always good for his mental health though, and that he’s recently suffered burn-out from trying to help and feed so many dogs – with dog food alone costing $30 a day.
He said: ‘It’s just me doing it on my scooter and in a jeep. I team up with other people who help dogs and we all muck in. I have built it out now so as I provide food for 800 dogs on the island and have a lady cooking this for me. I give this to volunteers who distribute it.
‘I funded it all myself to start from my savings but people have started helping out with vet bills and chipping in if they see dogs in need that need more expensive care.’
Discussing his ongoing battle to stay sober, he said he still has to keep his demons ‘at bay’, saying: ‘That’s not easy and I share that openly. I do that purely to hopefully help somebody somewhere who needs it.
‘I’ll never stop talking about that because it’s still got huge stigma attached and seen as a weakness in society.’
The little dog was struggling to breathe when he first arrived, and was covered in sores
Hello boy! The pet as he looks now; Harbison says Rodney has put on weight and his skin condition has vastly improved
Recently, a golden retriever has come into his care, after someone spotted the neglected dog tied up on a short chain.
After seeing an image of the distressed female dog, who had been used for breeding ‘for years’, the animal lover said he couldn’t get the photo out of his head, and made the dash to rescue her.
A vet confirmed the dog weighed just 12.5kg, half of what she should do.
However, with just 24 hours of TLC – including a bath to treat fungal infections, and various treatments at the vet, the dog was eating well and chasing a ball again.
To donate to Niall’s street dog rescue, visit donorbox.org/helping-thai-street-dogs-2
Read more at DailyMail.co.uk