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Issue No. 410 February 2017

For the love of dogs

Brian and Annelisse Yanko love dogs.

“If I had my way and we had the land I’d surround myself with as many dogs as I could manage,” says Annelisse.

The couple, who work at the RNZPC, provide a home for recently retired Aika – a grandmother in the police dog breeding programme. And they like spending time at the sharp end of animal welfare.

Last year Acting Senior Sergeant Brian, Business Product Co-ordinator Mobility, and Annelisse, a Project Coordinator in ICT, spent a week at the Soi Dog Foundation, a shelter for street dogs and cats in Phuket, Thailand.

Annelisse had supported its work from afar and describes the chance to volunteer there as “a bucket list experience”.

They were given their own pack of 18 dogs in one run and tasked with getting to know them and earning their trust to help prepare them for adoption.

Brian and Annelisse get to know their pack.

There were alpha male Ying and sidekick See-Nin, friendly dogs, cheeky dogs and nervous dogs. “You learn quickly that Thai street dogs have a completely different psyche to dogs back home,” says Brian.

“Some loved human interaction; some were ‘street institutionalised’ and very independent. They would enjoy a small amount of attention but after a short time wander off to do their own thing”.

The emotional scars of abuse leave some dogs unadoptable. One such is Ying, the Yanko pack’s top dog – Brian and Annelisse now sponsor his upkeep.

Top dog Ying.

While in Thailand, they also visited Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary (BLES) in Sukhothai, helping with the dogs and other smaller animals living alongside the rescued elephants.

Their tasks included a hands-on role in sterilisation and inoculation clinics for animals in the local village, in 40-plus degree heat.

The trip had a positive spin-off for Police as they came home with the idea for the Dog Training Centre’s new exercise ‘fort’, based on structures for the dogs at Soi.

Annelisse says the experience inspired her to begin a veterinary nursing correspondence course to prepare her for future missions.

They remain in regular contact with Soi and BLES but have also been looking into other Thai sanctuaries.

“We’d love to go back,” says Brian. “We’d go tomorrow if we had the chance.”

Soi Dog Foundation - http://www.soidog.org
BLES - http://www.blesele.org/

This is a story from Beyond the Blue, a project to highlight the many ways Police staff spend their time away from work.

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