Michael Baines conveyed the following story via phone conversation to a reporter.While relating his story he didn’t miss a beat while feeding the roughly 80 stray dogs that hang out along his daily route in Chonburi, Thailand. It was early on a Saturday morning, not long after he woke up. He prepared their food and drove to the first of the three locations that he stops at to care for the dogs that he’s been feeding for five years. While on this important mission, he didn’t drop his phone once, and the reporter, well he got to go along for the ride with him by phone from 8,387 miles away.
The dogs that he feeds and takes care of have come to trust Michael, and they wait expectantly for him every day. He is definitely a very big part of why and how they survive in a country that isn’t usually very kind to dogs.
“Many people see an animal here and will hit the dog with sticks, stones and machetes, and use knives or kill them with guns,” said Baines. It isn’t unheard of for some people to throw boiling water on dogs or even poison them he said. This is exactly why Baines carries a $10 bottle of antidote in his vehicle.
Baines was born in Scotland and moved to Sweden when he was 2 years old. After he had spent a few holidays in Thailand he decided that he needed a change, so he found a job and moved to the country in 2002. Baines, who is 48, is now the chef and general manager of a restaurant in Chonburi called, Carrot.
Baines makes a total of 17 stops, along three different routes that he takes and feeds the dogs once a day. From his house to work, he stops eight times and feeds 30 dogs. After the restaurant serves breakfast, he gathers the food for the second run of the day, and makes eight or nine stops to feed another 30 to 35 dogs. Then he feeds another six dogs outside of his restaurant, and four to five dogs when he’s on his way home after work.
The dogs are fed dry food and boiled rice mixed together with vegetable oil and bouillon with a boiled chicken, pork or fish mixture added for taste. Once every month, Baines puts a powder into the food that prevents the dogs from getting various worms, ticks and fleas. Most every penny he spends is self-funded or given through donations.
When Baines first set out on his mission, he had a restaurant in another area of Thailand. A dog just showed up at the back of the building. She was covered in sores and had numerous infections- and she had recently had puppies. “I started to feed her and that was the start,” said Baines. “I looked into her eyes. In [them] she said, ‘Help me. I’m hungry.’ She touched me. I started to see how they suffer and how friendly they are. I started to interact with them more, and started to feed them. It escalated and now it’s [been] five years.”
Whenever he gets to one of his regular stops, the dogs always know that he’s coming by the sound of his car. “A few of them are really friendly,” he said. “I can hug them and play with them. Some are really scared, even after two years. One of the best feelings is when you have an old dog who has been abused all her life and you can actually touch them and hug them. It can take two years, but when it happens, it is amazing.”
Many of the dogs on Baines’s daily stops are regulars. In March, 15 of the streets dogs were poisoned by someone. They were along Baines’s route. “They put coolant on the street, and the dogs drank it and they died,” Baines said. “I could only find three bodies.” Sometimes new dogs show up because a common solution to a pregnant dog is to throw all of her puppies into the woods, said Baines.
Watch the video on the next page