A man who devotes his life to saving stray dogs in Thailand after a confrontation with death has revealed how he hopes to change the lives of dozens of animals – including an unwanted pet who almost died after being attacked with a hammer.
Niall Harbison, a recovering alcoholic originally from Ireland but now living in the Far East, lives with about 80 dogs and plans to one day help 10,000 street dogs a month.
He told MailOnline he vowed to turn his life around after being admitted to intensive care following a drinking binge brought on by depression and anxiety.
Among the many dogs he’s rescued so far is a puppy named Rodney, who he picked up after watching him starve, covered in sores and gasping for breath in the street.
In just two weeks, the puppy began to recover thanks to medical treatments, including oil baths for his skin, nutritious meals and plenty of sleep.
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Recovering alcoholic Niall Harbison, who is originally from Ireland, has dedicated his life to helping transform the lives of rescue dogs in Thailand
Harbison spends about $2000-3000 a month running his dog shelter, in addition to crowdfunding through his social media platforms, with donations helping to pay for the veterinary care of the dogs he crosses his path.
His Instagram account has jumped from just 800 followers a year ago to 272,000 today — with fans eager to see content about how he transforms the lives of the dogs he comes in contact with.
He explained how he started rescuing stray dogs after nearly losing his life to alcohol abuse.
“I started the mission after I ended up in the ICU at the hospital. I almost drank myself to death because I was suffering from anxiety and depression. I spent three days there and when I almost died I vowed to change my life and do something meaningful.
He said he started looking after one dog, Lucky, but “the bag of food just got bigger and bigger, from four to eight, and finally to eighty dogs a day.”
Among the pets he rescued is King Whacker, who survived a vicious hammer attack and now thrives in Harbison’s care.
The dog is now thriving after being rescued…Niall says he feeds about 80 dogs a day as he drives around on his scooter with food
Little Rodney, the puppy, was near death when he was rescued by the shelter, and Harbison says his fortunes changed in just two weeks – after receiving essential care
Niall says he is still battling his own demons but says he hopes sharing his story on Instagram will help others in a similar situation
On his donor box page, the dog lover says the only way to “stop the suffering” of stray dogs is through an effective neutering and spaying program.
Harbison says it’s not always good for his mental health to care for so many rescue dogs, and that he recently suffered a burnout from trying to help and feed so many dogs — dog food alone costs $30 a day.
He said, ‘I just do it on my scooter and in a jeep. I work with other people helping dogs and we all muck out. I have now expanded it so that I feed 800 dogs on the island and have a lady cook it for me. I give these to volunteers who hand them out.
“I funded it all myself starting with my savings, but people have started helping with vet bills and microchipping when they see dogs in need that need more expensive care.”
Discussing his ongoing struggle to stay sober, he said he still needs to keep his demons “at bay,” saying, “It’s not easy and I openly share that.” I’m doing that purely to hopefully help someone somewhere who needs it.
“I will never stop talking about that, because there is still a huge stigma attached to it and it is seen as a weakness in society.”
The little dog was struggling to breathe when he first arrived and was covered in sores
Hello boy! The pet as he looks now; Harbison says Rodney has put on weight and his skin condition has improved tremendously
Recently, a golden retriever came into his care after someone saw the neglected dog tied up with a short chain.
After seeing an image of the ailing female dog, which had been used for breeding “for years,” the animal lover said he couldn’t get the picture out of his mind and rushed to save her.
A vet confirmed the dog weighed just 12.5kg, half what she should.
But with just 24 hours of TLC — including a bath to treat yeast infections and several treatments at the vet — the dog ate well and was back chasing a ball.
Go to to donate to Niall’s stray dog rescue donorbox.org/helping-thai-street-dogs-2