Rugby WAG turned street vet reveals how a row with her ex at the airport changed her life forever – after they went on holiday to Sri Lanka ‘as friends’ but she decided to STAY and set up an animal charity
- Janey Lowes, 32, from Barnard Castle, moved to Sri Lanka after the break up
- Romantic break went wrong at the airport but couple travelled there as friends
- Vet says the trip completely turned her life around, and gave her a purpose
- Set up a charity to help street dogs after seeing how many animals were dying
A British vet who left behind her party lifestyle to start a street dog charity in Sri Lanka has revealed how going on a trip with her ex-boyfriend moments after they’d broken up changed her life forever.
Janey Lowes, 32, from Barnard Castle, County Durham, started her animal charity in Sri Lanka, WECare Worldwide, in 2014 after a holiday there inspired her to move to the Indian Ocean island permanently .
Talking to the Mirror, the animal medic said she was moved to help an unhealthy street dog she saw during the trip to Sri Lanka that she took with her rugby player boyfriend Alex, whom she had been dating since she was 14.
She revealed the trip came close to never happening because the couple broke up while waiting to board their plane but decided to go on with the holiday ‘as friends’.
Six years on, Janey credits the trip for completely changing her life, and has 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 went on the trip ‘as friends’ but Lowes says her life changed forever after she helped a street dog there. (Pictured with Ben Fogle in 2019 on the Channel 5 series New Lives in the Wild)
Janey says she had wanted to be a vet since she was a child growing up in County Durham, and adopted an abandoned puppy named Finn when she was 16, who ignited the special bond she has with dogs today.
As she prepared to board the plane to Sri Lanka back in 2014, her relationship with Alex, who she had been with since she was just 14 was crumbling.
The pair moved in together after Janey completed her vet qualification at Nottingham University, and she says that, by age 25, she had ‘the life of her dreams.’
But cracks started to show during the couple’s time living together, with Janey coming home stressed and tired, and Alex, a professional rugby player, exhausted from long hours of training on the rugby pitch.
Janey said she wanted to help as many street dogs as she could when she set up her charity, thinking she’d be back in the UK within a year (pictured working at her vet practice in Sri Lanka)
The couple decided to holiday in Sri Lanka in May 2014 to shake 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 still go on the trip as friends changed Janey’s life completely, she now says. Once on the island, the British vet was shocked by the number of street dogs she spotted, with many of them unwell.
She revealed she spotted a dog who had a nasty gash under the eye, and tried to get him treated by a local vet.
‘I asked several vets, but despite me offering to pay, none would agree to treat a street dog, because they weren’t viewed as 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 from university to set up her charity WeCare Worldwide
Janey moved to Sri Lanka and brought this property on the outskirts of the coastal town Talalla, in the south of the country. She converted it into a veterinary practice
Once back in the UK, Janey said she couldn’t shake the dog – whom she had called Tom – out of her mind, and that she looked up charities in Sri Lanka bur couldn’t find one that had been set up by a veterinarian.
‘With Alex and I now split, it would have been easy to move out and carry on with my nice comfortable life, but I realised there was nothing tying me down now. Why not go to Sri Lanka and start treating these animals?,’ she said.
With enough savings to survive a year, Janey packed her bags and departed for Sri Lanka.
Thanks to a £10,000 loan from her former boss and after researching what would best help street dogs in the country, Janey set up her charity WECare Worldwide.
She left the UK in October 2014, thinking she’d be back to her homeland the next year.
She set up camp in the beach town of Talalla, in the south of Sri Lanka, where she had met Tom, and treated her first dog, whom had been bitten by another street dog and was covered in maggots.
Determined to make the charity a success, Janey taught herself how to build a website, how to fundraise and how to generate publicity for WECare Worldwife.
She now has 17 members of staff, including five vets, three nurses and several trainees, and has adopted five dogs of her own, called Mali, Benji, Stitch, Lottie, and Tilly.
Janey’s incredible story might have not happened if she had not decided to still go on a trip to Sri Lanka with her boyfriend after their break up (pictured at her Sri Lankan practifce)
Since setting up her charity six years ago, Janey has helped more than 12,000 street dogs in Sri Lanka.
In 2019, she appeared on Ben Fogle’s New Lives in the Wild for Channel 5, where she introduced the presenter to her way of life.
She revealed she had often been bitten by dogs, including some with rabies, and had had to receive several jabs which had sometimes made her sick.
She also revealed some unkind locals had been abusive towards her because they thought she was crazy, but in spite of these challenges, Janey said the adventure has been worth it.
The former party girl has transformed 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 she came back to the UK twice a year to undergo some medical appointment as well as beauty treatments such as going to the dentist, hairdresser and getting her legs waxed.
She also said she undertook some fundraising in the UK before heading back to Sri Lanka, and that her life in the Asian country had changed her priorities.
Talking to Fogle in 2019, Janey admitted that she used to be quite ‘self-obsessed’ and buy a new outfit to go out on the town every weekend.
She now never wears make up during the day and goes surfing at least once a day. She said she lives frugally and eats fruit and fish, but misses UK treats like wotsits and chocolate.
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