Emmeline Manzur is a Montreal Vegan Animal Advocate. Full of charisma and a bubbly personality, she advocates not only for rescued companion animals but also for people to understand why it is important to adopt a vegan diet.Emmeline is a philanthropist and she loves to travel to meet other cultures. During her last trip to Japan, Laos and Thailand, she was able to volunteer for The Elephant Nature Park. This park is no Parc Safari, on the contrary it is a place where elephants can live out their life free from any form of human exploitation. That’s right…at Elephant Nature Park there is no such thing as riding elephants or having them in captivity for the amusement of others. And although this sanctuary is called Elephant Nature Park…you will be surprised to know they also rescue companion animals.
Emmeline was very surprised to discover that this haven for animals was established by a fellow Montrealer Darrick Thomson. He is a past member of the very well-known animal advocacy group Sea Shepherd. Him and his wife have dedicated themselves to save elephants and dogs. They call it The Dog Rescue Project. According to their website, this initiative to rescue dogs started as a result of catastrophic floods in Bangkok in 2011. The elephant rescuers became dog rescuers. They rented boats and Elephant Nature Park volunteers rescued dogs trapped on rooftops desperate for help.
“Of the 2,000 dogs pulled to safety, 155 were brought to Elephant Nature Park to begin their second chance at life. Large ‘dog runs’ were built with all kinds of things for the dogs to climb on, swim in, and play amongst. A small animal hospital was constructed and a full time vet and clinic manager have been employed to care for ENP’s new family”
MDB: Emmeline tell me what it meant for you to volunteer during your trip?
Emmeline: I was a volunteer for Elephant Nature Park but of course, living the experience does not only get people closer to the elephant cause but also to the other animals living there. Most of us spend at least one day of our volunteering period, helping, assisting the dogs which includes walking with them, removing their ticks, bathing them, feeding them, playing with them, having a laugh with them. Everything you can do with such gentle creatures enjoying their second best opportunity in life till they find a forever home.
MDB: What experience did you love the most?
Emmeline: These sweethearts are and intrinsic part of this beloved sanctuary. I loved bonding with them. I loved having one of them, and elderly dog lady wake up just outside my room every single day. I loved seeing them running behind the elephants and being company to the mahouts. I loved them hanging around the platform and being open for a hug or a kiss. I absolutely loved meeting Tootsie and removing her ticks, such a challenge in a weather and environment like the one in Thailand. I loved the doggies that became settled companions for specific elephants and mahouts. They gave me the impression of being guardian angels to them. They are happy, that makes me happy. It’s a dream to see happy dogs, happy elephants, happy cats, happy water buffaloes, happy humans and even a happy pig among all the chaos we live in our world on a daily basis.
Intrigued by the story behind the sanctuary, Emmeline decided also to interview one of the vet-techs working for The Dog Rescue Project. Her name is Amy Shroff. She now shares with MDB the questions and the answers given by one of those behind the care of so many dogs:
1. What are the biggest challenges dogs face in Thailand and how is the ENP dog rescue program becoming a game-changer in that country?
I believe the largest challenge is the over population [of dogs] with too few owners to give them the care they need. Along with overcrowding in shelters, as there are not enough, the diseases that they face and the lack of good veterinary care, ENP has made a dent in this as they have rescued and given good homes to over 400 dogs and 250 cats.
2. You manage a successful program of international adoptions for the dogs. Approximately, how many dogs do you place internationally per month and what are the countries that mostly adopt the dogs from ENP?
So far this year, over 20 dogs have been adopted out with more on the way. ENP has put together a great team of staff to oversee the process. The dogs have gone to the United Kingdom, Europe, Canada, USA and even Australia.
4. In regards to Canada, there are still cruel and barbaric methods used in the countryside as a response to the dog overpopulation problem (gas chambers, shootings, poisoning). It still happens right outside of Montreal. Being Canada a developed country where these practices unfortunately still take place, what are your thoughts and recommendations to put an end on them?
Sadly, many developed countries have their black spots as far as animal welfare and cruelty. The key to ending these methods is education and getting the word out that [cruelty] is not needed. Speaking more of our environment, vegetarianism, veganism and how this can [help] end the animal cruelty problem. Canada is a large meat producing country…so these ideas will take a lot of effort to gain a foothold on society. All in all, no animal should have to suffer, ever. If Canada would stick to this Mantra… it would make a difference [for all animals].
6. Quebec is known as the “puppy mill capital of North America” and this is one of the worst challenges faced by companion animals in this Canadian province. How, in your opinion, could activists effectively contribute to have a ban status instated over this business by the provincial Government?
Education is [the key] and making people aware that a dog purchased and not rescued is harming dogs everywhere. Mass bred animals like in puppy mills or backyard breeders have disease and contributing to animal overpopulation. No regulations with respect as to how and who is exploiting the animals. Yes, why not? It has been effective in other countries.