Soi Dog Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation established in 2003, is a legally registered charity in Thailand, the United States, Australia, the UK, France and Holland. Our mission statement is to improve the welfare of dogs and cats in Asia, resulting in better lives for both the animal and human communities, to create a society without homeless animals, and to ultimately end animal cruelty. John Dalley, co-founder and vice president, is available for interview. For more information please visit www.soidog.org or www.facebook.com/SoiDogPageInEnglish.
by Mike Pullen
Anybody staying in Phuket or who is a regular visitor to the island is familiar with the street dog and cats phenomena of Thailand, where these mostly friendly communal animals roam free, owning the road or sleeping in shopfronts to take advantage of the cool air escaping from the air-conditioned convenience stores. Street dogs or cats may be strays, pets which may have got lost or allowed freedom to roam by their owners, or may be feral animals that have never been owned.
Reasons for the large amount of stray animals vary, from pet owners abandoning their animals once they have outgrown their cute puppy or kitten stage to owners who have not had their animals neutered or spayed, resulting in unwanted puppies or kittens being born and being dumped at temples or in remote areas. In addition, existing street animals have been allowed to breed unchecked, adding to the number of street animals in Thailand.
Soi Dog Foundation realised since its inception in 2003 that the unchecked and growing population of street animals was resulting in the needless suffering of the stray dog and cat population in Thailand, as a large number of these animals suffered and died from a range of injuries, diseases, starvation and neglect.
With the donations and support of animal lovers worldwide, Soi Dog, with the help of the local Thai authorities, has humanely reduced the stray population in Phuket through their programme of mass sterilisation, medical treatment for the sick and injured, vaccination and sheltering and re-homing of these animals all over the world. This has reduced the suffering of street dogs and cats, and made the environment a safer and healthier place for the people and the street animals within their local communities, with Phuket also becoming the first officially rabies-free province in Thailand.
Whilst most of these street animals are extremely friendly and loyal, some have experienced extreme hardship and trauma, and as a visitor does not know the background of the dog in question, it is always advisable to exercise caution when approaching street animals.
Some visitors are tempted to help these animals by feeding them, if so, please do so well away from hotel and restaurants venues. Feeding these animals near hotels or restaurants can be counter-productive, as some of the hotel and restaurant managers believe that they are a nuisance to their customers, resulting in a potential loss of trade. This could lead to extremely negative consequences for these animals when they are removed from these environments.
When coming across a sick or injured street dog or cat (not owned animals) in Phuket, visitors and residents can call the Soi Dog shelter for assistance. It is important to make a very clear assessment and distinction between emergency and non-emergency situations. An emergency would be a serious road accident or serious injuries sustained during an attack leaving the animal in a critical condition, whilst nonlife-threatening situations can be handled during normal working hours, leaving the Soi Dog emergency responders free to deal with genuine life-threatening situations.
During normal shelter operating hours from 8am to 5pm, seven days a week, people can call 081 788 4222 for assistance for suffering, critical or not critical animals, and Soi Dog will, depending on availability, send a truck to pick up the animal and take it to the Soi Dog shelter for treatment.
Outside normal shelter hours, people can call 098 927 9698 for emergency assistance only. In situations like this, Soi Dog will ask you, if possible, to take the animal to one of the Soi Dog-contracted vet clinics in Phuket for emergency treatment.
In all cases, critical or non-critical, when calling for assistance, please try to take some photos of the animal or get a full and accurate description of the animal, be ready to give the precise location of the animal, a brief description of the injuries or the symptoms of the illness, and your name and mobile phone number.
Soi Dog invites local residents and tourists to visit the Soi Dog shelter in Mai Khao to learn more about street dogs and cats. The shelter is open to visitor tours from Monday to Friday at 9:30am, 11am, 1:30pm and 2:30pm, after which visitors can spend some time socialising with the puppies and kittens.
People wishing to volunteer can visit the shelter Monday to Friday between 9am-noon and 1pm-3:30pm. Soi Dog would like to thank the local Thai authorities and Thai communities, as well as the expat community and visitors to the island for all of their support to help end the suffering of dogs and cats in Thailand.