Niall Harbison, 43 is a man who dreams big. He has pledged to be able to sterilise 10,000 dogs a month. In his first year, he managed 1,200 dogs, according to The Guardian.
Niall was in a “dark place” when he went to live in Thailand in December 2018. For a man with undiagnosed ADHD who’d been a prize prankster at school and expelled at 17 with no qualifications, he’d already done exceptionally well. He had several successful online food businesses under his belt, money in the bank and a devoted rescue dog, Snoop.
He raises funds on social media, his 579,000 followers checking in on the dogs he has treated or saved, including his own three rescue dogs, Snoop, Jumbo and Tina. Harbison weaves in updates on his own mental health, which encourages others to share their own mental health struggles.
Most people hide it. There’s still a big stigma about mental health, Niall Harbison said.
There are thousands of street dogs on Koh Samui, an island off Thailand.
Harbison had encountered his fill of sick or maimed stray puppies by 2021.
Rescuing puppies “without changing hearts and minds is like sticking a plaster on a heart attack. But it’s not my culture, I’m a foreigner, so I have to be cautious”, Harbison said.
“I wanted to get to the root of the problem.”
Working with local vets who taught him the neutering procedure, he began sterilising the dogs to curtail the stray population, saving them from hardship and suffering, and paying for their vaccinations. The attitude to dogs on the island varies from hatred to love, with the vast majority being indifferent.
There are around 300 dogs in shelters on the island already.
He owns dog sanctuary, comprising two containers on an acre of land gifted to him for a nominal rent by a dog-loving islander which is a sterilisation centre.
For now, the building site puppies are with Harbison, himself a survivor against the odds, and now a rescuer.