Mark Jeffries, 26, from Corstorphine, has spent the past four days travelling from Koh Lanta, a remote island in Thailand, to Edinburgh.
Mark began work with the Lanta animal welfare charity that protects animals in the south of Thailand in late March after finishing his travels in Australia.
Four days into his time with the shelter, lockdown was announced in the Southeast Asian country, and so he spent from March until July looking after and training extremely vulnerable dogs.
Mark said: “At the centre they have a lot of cats and dogs. Sick, healthy, all ages and some with major trust issues. They can be very challenging animals.
“Lanta rely heavily on volunteers to operate and the doors are often kept open by tourists not only donating but also adopting the animals.”
He added: “It costs roughly £1,000 to bring a dog from Thailand to the UK. All costs are covered by those adopting the animals and includes all the jags, tablets, blood tests, crates for flying, flights, ferry and in my case taxis. The dogs do not have to quarantine as everything is sorted from the charity’s end.
Mark was able to adopt one of the rescued canines - Poppy - for himself after a mammoth fundraising effort thanks to kind friends and relatives.
He said: “Friends and family helped me get my dog Poppy home through fundraising over £3,000 to allow me to volunteer and get her home. The other three dogs belong to folk who were volunteering previously as well as other foster families but were awaiting a volunteer to chaperone them home.”
Mark’s mammoth, multi-trip journey was marred by a catalogue of unforeseen issues, culminating in the four dogs being misplaced when he arrived in Amsterdam.
He said: “We flew from Bangkok to Qatar which was about seven hours, then had a three hour layover where I couldn’t see them, followed by another seven hour flight to Amsterdam. After that I was off the plane for two hours and no sign of the dogs - panic alarms started to ring a little and then a member of staff approached me to say the dogs had been taken to the wrong side of Amsterdam airport but I got them back.”
The four dogs in transit were Poppy; Tippy, with three legs; Max, who was attacked with a machete in early life; and Flea, who had previously been infested with, you guessed it, fleas.
Mark said: “I’ll certainly miss Lanta animal welfare. I didn’t really want to leave but it was time to get home and get a job again.
“If anyone at all can help support the charity then you can find out more by visiting their website.”
And Mr Jefferies is far from done yet.
Mark plans to bring home another dog named Tarn next year after it had stolen his heart whilst volunteering.
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