In the previous post, we wrote about two selfless animal rescuers from Germany, Lara Hofmann, and Patrick Specht. They shared their personal rescue stories and experiences and provided some useful insight for the beginner rescuers.
How to Win the Hearts of Animals
Today, we would like to present the story of another private animal rescuer in Cambodia. Christine volunteers most of their free time and is committed to saving the lives of street animals every day. She does her “job” silently and quietly, without drawing much attention to her big and small successes. So, we would like to take some time to appreciate her valuable work.
Christine Nebel is originally from Germany and works part-time as a lawyer in Cambodia. She is also known for her passionate animal activism in Cambodia.
A few years ago, life brought Christine and her husband to South East Asia. She has two cats, which traveled with her from the UK to Australia and Cambodia, a foster cat from our ARC center, and a rescue kitten from Wat Thann.
Being a huge cat lover, Christine knows a lot about how to care, nourish, and treat the animals. In 2017, Christine got to know Animal Rescue Cambodia and wanted to get involved, contributing her valuable time and knowledge.
Animal Rescue Cambodia’s Work
Pagodas have become a place where people dump their unwanted and “untreated” (most likely, sick) animals. The main goal of ARC’s work there is to treat, neuter, and spay these animals, as well as educate the community on animal welfare.
However, this work never ends. As Christine observes, “People just bring animals and leave them in front of the main gate or push them through the fence. Every new feral cat brings with it a potentially life-threatening disease. So, it is extremely important to keep the colony vaccinated and spayed to prevent the spreading of infections and diseases to other animals.”
For many months, Christine visited What Tann pagoda for up to three hours per day. She quickly built a strong bond with the residents as well as the 40 cats and dogs at the pagoda. She carefully examined them all, one by one, during every visit. She cleaned their ears and eyes and inspected their skin/fur for any possible parasite infestation. All the medicine and food, including antibiotics, and eye drops, Christine purchased and paid for in advance.
When we asked about her rather selfless approach, Christine answers, “I simply cannot see the suffering of an animal and do nothing about it. Especially, if there is the slightest hope or a chance that the animal can survive and get better.”
Time and again, animals at the pagoda were sick or badly injured, and even required urgent hospitalization. In these cases, Christine usually sought advice or help from NGOs like ARC. And when their centers are full, she took the animal to a vet herself.
The majority of the animals were soon released to their familiar surroundings, often the pagoda premises. However, Christine explains, “Some animals are just not fit to go back to the pagoda. The biggest challenge, for now, is to find a safe space where the sick or injured animals can be kept”. Fortunately, there have also been some inspiring success stories, with some of the sick animals being adopted into forever homes.
Christine also loved to engage with the residents at What Tann “Generally, locals are quite friendly and respond well to my work.”
Some locals at the pagoda even warmed up to animal welfare so much to offer more support. A nice woman who has a working fridge – the only one at the entire pagoda premises (fridges are a luxury for most of Khmer households) helps by storing the medication and vaccines in her fridge.
Those rescuing or helping homeless animals may confirm: it is not an easy task. Not at all! At times, it can be extremely difficult and exhausting, both psychologically and physically.
“You usually start off with great a motivation, having a bluntly idealistic and enthusiastic thought: ‘Oh, I’m going to make a huge difference! All the animals at the pagodas will be healthy and fed!’ But once the reality kicks in you become a little more modest and realistic in your outlooks and expectations”.
Christine beams, “any rescuer’s biggest reward is to see their animals healthy and happy! All of these cats and dogs have such short troubled lives. Why not try to make their days a bit happier and brighter? I see them all running around on a beautiful sunny day and think to myself: ‘That’s what this is all about.’ And, yes, it is absolutely worth it!”
Today, Christine successfully “finished” her work at What Tann. But she is still a passionate animal activist. She always keeps out an eye for street animals in need and helps them by talking to the nearby residents, bringing injured/sick animals to our center, or taking them in herself.
The world surely needs more passionate people like Christine, who don’t walk past someone in need but decide to do something. Sometimes that can just be a phone call or a chat with a nearby person.
How can YOU help?
- Do what you can! While you may not be able to change the world, you can change an animal’s world forever. You may not be able to save all, but why not start by bringing some stray animals around your home or nearest pagoda some food and water.
- Volunteer. Volunteering with ARC, or any rescue organization is not only a great way to effectively use your time to help animals but to meet new people and gain new skills.
- Join ARC’s Paw-Goda Tour. Click here to learn more about our Community Outreach Program.