Thai staff at a dog shelter have rebelled at the unorthodox methods of the French founder, 50-year-old Michael Chour. These include forcing them into dog cages to get to know the canines, some of whom are aggressive. Certain staff at the facility also feel that this practice is a form of degrading punishment which, added to Mr Chour’s hot-tempered management style, has led them to act. The latest police complaint was filed on Christmas Eve at a police station in Buriram.

A French man whose pioneering work caring for abused dogs in Buriram and in establishing a sanctuary for them, this Christmas finds himself under investigation after staff at The Sound of Animals project filed complaints of abuse against him with police claiming, among other things, they were forced to enter dog cages to offer to succour the canines being cared for at the facility.

A groundbreaking charity dedicated to the rescue of street dogs and those displaced by the now-banned dog meat trade in Thailand is under fire this week after employees of the Buriram based Sound of Animals centre lodged an official complaint with the police at Ban Kruat police station in the province on Christmas Eve.

The 50-year French man Michael Chour (left) addressing staff at The Sound of Animals dog shelter. On Christmas Eve, staff filed complaints with police at a Buriram police station alleging abuse by the Frenchman who they claim forced them into cages.

It followed a visit and inspection of the facility the day before by senior officials from state agencies including Police Colonel Adul Chaiprasitkul of Buriram police station. This followed an earlier report from staff at the facility to police filed at Ban Graud police station.

The organisation has been a local success for nearly a decade in its mission to rescue and care for dogs

The move must have come as a shock to the French director of the facility which includes the Blue Dream animal shelter for dogs released into the extended local area when the military-installed Thai government put an end to the slaughter of dogs for human consumption some years ago.

It is reported that 50-year-old Michael Chour and his Thai wife Tanyarut, were in Bangkok on Monday with other staff from the institution promoting its work when the inspection took place at the shelter in Buriram.

The Sound of Animals has been seen as a  success for nearly a decade expanding its operations in 2017. Its mission is to expand human kindness through its care for dogs.

Management style of founder Michael Chour in the spotlight as staff revolt against work conditions

It appears that the root of the problem lies in the management style of the pioneering founder of the centre.

Mr Chour, in his passion for the work, is reported to have deployed an irascible and unpredictable style with the staff employed at the shelter who receive a salary of ฿10,100 per month.

The immediate cause of the complaint against the European is a practice where he has ordered staff at the facility to enter the cages with the dogs for extended periods to befriend and get to know them.

Staff member told to spend 20 minutes at a time in a cage and to kiss the dogs to put them at ease

One of the staff members, identified as La-or Kaewprakon, told the media this week that she was ordered to enter the cages and kiss the dogs for 20-minute sessions. She explained that Mr Chour saw this as a way of making the dogs feel more loved and relaxed.

It is understood that some workers were decidedly nervous about this practice since many of the dogs are quite aggressive.

There is also some suggestion from the staff that such interventions are seen by them as a form of punishment or degrading treatment meted out by Mr Chour when he is displeased with their work.

Frequent incidents of dog bites from a growing canine population also driving tensions and malaise

Part of the problem for the staff at the facility is that there are frequent incidents of dog bites at the sanctuary where hundreds of canines are cared for.

Most have been deprived or abused by humans before being rescued.

Workers have complained that the French boss will not let them finish work early if bitten to report to a hospital and that they have to then pay for medical treatment from their own pocket.

Some suggestion of salaries being paid late

It is also beeing reported that, in recent times, the monthly salary of workers has not been paid on time and that Mr Chour’s eccentricity and temper has become more pronounced.

This includes forcing workers en masse to sit in the dog cages until break time or the time arose to finish work.

Secretary to Mr Chour has spoken out against the practices at the dog shelter calling them improper

Criticism of the animal centre founder has also come from his secretary and the administrator at the facility.

Mr Konan Poompan told the media that he was bringing to light what was happening at The Sound of Animals as it struck him that the treatment of staff was improper.

He also disclosed that the French founder had recently and arbitrarily cut his salary by 50%. He said he wanted authorities to look into how the shelter was being run.

Frenchman’s Thai wife admits he has a hot temper because he is passionate about his work for dogs

The French man’s wife Tanyarut readily admitted that her husband has a fiery temper. However, she explained that this was because he was passionate about his work and his mission. She said that while his methods were unusual, it was the work that the staff at the shelter were being paid to do.

She strongly denied claims by some staff members that they were being held against their will in cages without access to water or food and consequently becoming dehydrated.

‘If the dogs don’t get enough care, he gets mad,’ she revealed. ‘But the claim that they were detained is untrue. The doors weren’t locked so they could have gone out anytime they wanted.’

Work of the Frenchman widely praised

The work of the French man and The Sound of Animals has been widely acclaimed and praised particularly for Mr Chour’s deep commitment to the welfare of man’s best friend and his opposition to the dog meat industry now banned in Thailand but which continues to flourish in Cambodia and Vietnam where millions of dogs are slaughtered and eaten each year.

He has presented his mission as a way of raising the level of humanity’s compassion and passing on those values to younger generations, including those working at the facility.

However, in recent days at the facility, that message and those values are in danger of being lost sight of after Mr Chour has found himself embroiled in controversy and now official enquiries.

Further reading:

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