'Inspiring' South Woodford animal lover honoured for dedication to rescuing dogs in Sri Lanka
PUBLISHED: 09:26 15 October 2019 | UPDATED: 09:26 15 October 2019
An animal lover and former social worker from South Woodford will be honoured for her outstanding dedication to rescuing sick and injured street dogs in Sri Lanka.
Kim Cooling, 62, has rescued tens of thousands of dogs at her sanctuary in Sri Lanka, as well as providing vaccinations and neutering to many more street dogs, and permanent refuge for around 200 disabled canine residents at any one time.
Kim will receive a special award at the International Fund for Animal Welfare's (IFAW) Animal Action Awards event, presented by TV wildlife presenter Bill Oddie at the House of Lords today (Tuesday, October 15).
Kim's journey to setting up the centre began many years ago when she and her husband Gary, a roofer, met and fell for an emaciated street dog named Rama while on holiday in Thailand.
After bringing the dog back to the UK to live with them, the seed was planted to devote her life to helping as many other dogs in a similar position as possible, and in 2007, Kim opened Animal SOS Sri Lanka.
After raising funds to purchase a plot of land and a small clinic in Midigama, Ahangama, in south Sri Lanka, the charity became operational in 2009 and has quickly grown to try to cater to an ever-increasing demand for their services.
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With few other refuges in the country and a lack of available veterinary care, Kim's charity provides a vital lifeline to many dogs who otherwise would suffer greatly and likely have a poor chance of survival.
"Despite many challenges the work is very satisfying," Kim said. "One of the most fulfilling aspects is giving a sick or injured dog the benefit of the doubt and the chance to recover.
"We recently had a disabled dog which learnt to walk again after a year. Part of our ethos is to give animals a chance.
"When I got the phone call telling me I was to win an IFAW award I was so pleased, just to know I'm appreciated for this work really means so much."
James Sawyer, UK director of IFAW, said: "Kim's commitment to improving the lives of so many vulnerable street dogs is outstanding and she is a great example of animal welfare in action.
"We hope that her efforts will inspire the next generation of animal welfare campaigners and carers.
"She is a very deserving winner of IFAW's International Animal Welfare Award."