A British vet who left her party lifestyle to start a street dog charity in Sri Lanka has revealed how a trip with her ex-boyfriend soon after they broke up changed her life forever.
Janey Lowes, 32, of Barnard Castle, County Durham, started her Sri Lankan animal charity, WECare Worldwide, in 2014 after a vacation there inspired her to move permanently to the Indian Ocean island.
To talk with the mirror, the vet said she was moved to help an unhealthy mutt she saw on the trip to Sri Lanka she took with her rugby player friend Alex, who she’d been dating since she was 14.
She revealed that the trip would almost never happen, as the couple broke up while waiting to board their plane, but decided to continue the vacation ‘as friends’.
Six years later, Janey says the trip completely changed her life, and she told her story in her book Janey The Vet.
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Janey, 32, from County Durham, started a street dog charity in Sri Lanka in 2014 after breaking up with her boyfriend at the airport. The couple still traveled “ as friends, ” but Lowes says her life changed forever after helping a mutt there. (Pictured with Ben Fogle in 2019 on the Channel 5 series New Lives in the Wild)
Janey says she wanted to be a vet since she was a kid growing up in County Durham, adopting an abandoned puppy named Finn when she was 16, which sparked the special bond she has with dogs today.
As she prepared to board the plane to Sri Lanka in 2014, her relationship with Alex, whom she had been with since she was 14, crumbled.
The pair moved in together after Janey completed her vet qualification at the University of Nottingham, and she says she had ‘the life of her dreams’ at the age of 25.
But as the couple moved in together, cracks began to show, with Janey returning home stressed and tired, and Alex, a professional rugby player, exhausted from hours of training on the rugby pitch.
Janey said she wanted to help as many stray dogs as possible when she set up her charity, assuming she would be back in the UK within a year (pictured at her vet practice in Sri Lanka)
The couple decided to go on vacation to Sri Lanka in May 2014 to break their routine and get their relationship back on track. However, they ended their romance at the airport, while still waiting to board the plane.
Their decision to travel as friends completely changed Janey’s life, she now says. Once on the island, the British vet was shocked by the number of mutts she saw, many of which were sick.
She revealed that she had seen a dog with a nasty cut under the eyes and tried to get it treated by a local vet.
“ I asked several vets, but despite offering to pay, no one wanted to treat a mutt because they weren’t considered worthy, which shocked me and I didn’t know what to do, ” she says.
Janey grew up in County Durham, but moved to Sri Lanka two years after graduating to found her charity WeCare Worldwide.
Janey moved to Sri Lanka and brought this property to the outskirts of the coastal town of Talalla, in the south of the country. She converted it into a veterinary practice
Back in the UK, Janey said she couldn’t shake the dog – whom she had named Tom – out of her head, and looked up charities in Sri Lanka, but couldn’t find one set up by a vet. .
Now that Alex and I have split up, it would have been easy to move and get on with my fine, comfortable life, but I realized there was nothing now that tied me down. Why don’t you go to Sri Lanka and start treating these animals? ”, She said.
With enough savings to survive a year, Janey packed her bags and left for Sri Lanka.
Now that Alex and I have split up, it would have been easy to get on with my fine, comfortable life, but I realized there was nothing now that tied me down …
Thanks to a £ 10,000 loan from her former owner and after researching what could best help mutts in the country, Janey founded her charity WECare Worldwide.
She left the UK in October 2014, assuming she would be back to her home country next year.
She set up camp in the seaside town of Talalla, in southern Sri Lanka, where she had met Tom, and treated her first dog, which had been bitten by another mutt and covered in maggots.
Determined to make the charity a success, Janey taught herself how to build a website, how to raise money, and how to generate publicity for WECare Worldwife.
She now has 17 staff, including five vets, three nurses and several interns, and has adopted five dogs herself named Mali, Benji, Stitch, Lottie and Tilly.
Janey’s incredible story might not have happened if she hadn’t decided to still travel to Sri Lanka with her boyfriend after they broke up (pictured at her Sri Lankan practice)
Since starting her charity six years ago, Janey has helped more than 12,000 stray dogs in Sri Lanka.
In 2019 she appeared in Ben Fogle’s New Lives in the Wild for Channel 5, introducing the presenter to her way of life.
She revealed that she had been bitten by dogs many times, including some with rabies, and that she had been given several injections that sometimes made her sick.
She also revealed that some unfriendly locals insulted her for thinking she was crazy, but despite these challenges, Janey said the adventure was worth it.
The former party girl has changed her life by moving to Sri Lanka and setting up her own veterinary charity to treat some of the country’s millions of stray dogs.
The vet explained that she came back to the UK twice a year to undergo a medical appointment and beauty treatments, such as going to the dentist, hairdresser and waxing her legs.
She also said she raised some money in the UK before returning to Sri Lanka, and that living in the Asian country had changed her priorities.
Speaking to Fogle in 2019, Janey admitted that she used to be quite ‘self-obsessed’ and bought a new outfit to hit town every weekend.
She now never wears makeup during the day and goes surfing at least once a day. She said she lives frugally and eats fruits and fish, but misses British treats like wotsits and chocolate.