Considering a new pet is not an easy task, especially if the friend is not one of the popular breeds around. Some animals that have experienced the bitterness of life might have gone through things that we humans can’t even phantom. Despite needing a forever-loving home, they are often excluded and forgotten. Strays tend to be mixed breeds, making many of us give these poor friends in shelters or on the street, the cold shoulder.
The Soi Dog Foundation is an organization that has begun its journey in 2003, as an attempt to help the stray population in Phuket, Thailand, in a humane and sustainable manner. Looking for ways to improve the lives of our forgotten friends, they have now expanded all throughout Asia, allowing all animal lovers from around the world to give these strays a second chance at life.
Today, MyFriend would like to take this opportunity and introduce you all to Soi Dog and its humble beginnings, the importance of adoption, and the process of taking in a new fluffy friend. With the help of K.Aum, the PR and Marketing officer of Soi Dog, all the way from Phuket, we get to learn all about the foundation’s mission and values! 🐶🐱🧡
Disclaimer: This interview has been done in December 2022
Hello, I’m Oum, the PR and Marketing Officer of Soi Dog Foundation
Our foundation started from 3 foreigners: there was a husband and wife, Gill & John Dalley. Both of them were English who have retired from England, They’ve visited Phuket before, many years ago. So when they retired, they wanted to settle down in Phuket. They traveled here and spent their time around the island, and they noticed that there were a lot of strays! By the way, this was more than 20 years ago. There were so many, and they were sick, ill, and malnourished. It was a sad and pitiful sight for both of them, as animal lovers, the couple felt they wanted to help all of these dogs. They want to give them a better life.
Then, they met another foreigner, a Dutch man named Margot Homburg. Margot Homburg has been helping the animals in the area already, so these three started discussing, and found they had similar values. That’s when the rescue mission to save dogs began! At first, it was a small small group of volunteers that helped if an ill animal came about, they’d take them to the hospital or emergency care if the dog was in a car accident or so.
But after a while, it started to feel like a never-ending quest. Then they realized that the real issue stems from the fact that there are too many dogs! With no regulations, so sterilizing these friends was the start of Soi Dog and why we value sterilization, and also vaccinations, since the beginning.
So in terms of help, the method changed from taking animals to the doctors, to having volunteers catch strays in order to spay, neuter, or give them vaccinations, then send them back. So they can continue their lives in their familiar territory.
A pivotal moment for Soi Dog was around 2004 when the Tsunami hit. Many were affected. There were deaths, people who needed medical help, missing people, and there were also animals in the area that were affected. There were international agencies helping people, and the three founders also looked for volunteers from all over to help dogs that were impacted by the tsunami.
There were vets from abroad, even those who were just pet lovers that came to help the dogs from the aftermath. Soi Dog started to become known for helping animals, specifically in Phuket, Thailand.
After that, the help kept pouring in as time went by. There were volunteers who traveled to work with our founders. Then, the foundation was established! with proper legal authorization and acknowledgement. They then started to look for a location to continue their mission of helping dogs and cats. In the beginning, animals were brought to private veterinary clinics in Phuket. As time went by, and we started expanding, Soi Dog realized that we need our own vet. Not only that, a rescue team that capture dogs, to help them from the streets they stay on, and that’s how we started expanding till today.
From helping strays get off the streets, or helping animals going through abuse, we handle everything. Taking them to the hospital, after they’re taken care of physically, once they are healthy again, we have a team for animal behavior that will help animals with their mental health directly. If they were abused by humans, after they have gone through behaviour rehabillitation, they can learn to trust humans again and their confidence comes back. Then the re-homing process begins.
Only for this year, 2022 and including the Phuket branch, as well as our mobile sterilization unit in the south, in Bangkok and surrounding areas, there would be 6,000 cases for this year (2022). The cases increase annually. I compared statistics from last year, and the treatment cases were at 5,000. If we look at earlier years, you can notice a decline. 4,000 or 3,000 cases, so treatment has been increasing gradually. There are two main factors for this.
First, our foundation has expanded our operations. Compared to the beginning where we were just in Phuket. We slowly expanded until the whole Bangkok Metropolitan Region. Then we expanded our mobile sterilization unit to new provinces, every single year, so our officers have higher access. Plus, they can help more stray animals that need the assistance.
Secondly, we feel like the overall population and citizens are starting to understand stray animals in the community, that they are also their responsibility. Recently, we feel like those in the community would call to inform us about the cases. Whether through Facebook or phone calls, they contact us about animals that need help. So it’s a promising sign that people are giving strays more importance.
In regards to the animal shelter specifically, the rehoming program is the most important aspect. Because if we can’t find a home for them, they stay here, and there is no rotation or movement of strays. That means we can’t accept more animals to help. Those who need a shelter to assist their needs, if older animals don’t find a home, new ones don’t even have a chance.
Secondly, because our foundation has a mission to improve the welfare of strays, we want those on the streets to have a better life. When animals get a new home, they’re also safe. No risk of car accidents, abuse. Just a full stomach and cozy bed every day. This is the main aim of our foundation. So it’s really important for us at Soi Dog.
Adoption also helps reduce dog breeding farms as well. Or even cat breeding farms that are illegal. Or even businesses that don’t care for their well-being. Adoption helps reduce these businesses.
Adopting from Soi Dog means you don’t have to worry about anything! No need to be scared to talk to the officers, shamed, or any issues. None of that happens here. We’re happy to advise you throughout your whole journey. There are people who also come to meet their potential pets too, to see if their chemistry matches together. And there’s another group who follows us on Social Media Facebook, Instagram, we have posts looking for homes everyday. You can contact us and talk to us anytime.
For adoption, you can also adopt from abroad. We have all the information on our site. You can find them at Soidog.org. Our re-homing team is more than happy to assist you and your future pet’s journey from Thailand, to the destination country with no costs. For adopting friends and when flying them abroad, they will travel on flights with our volunteers. We also call them Flight Volunteers. So the new pet parents, can wait at the destination country’s airport. Soi Dog will take care of all the documentations and medical procedures needed. We take care of it all.
Lately, we’ve been trying to promote to expats in Thailand to adopt from Soi Dog as well. All of the adoption process, will be exactly the same as Thais. But in the case where they need to travel back home, we also assist in that as well. In this case, the pet parent will be in charge of all the payments, but in terms of processes, Soi Dog will take care of everything. Or another case, we can also send them over like previously mentioned, with the Flight Volunteer. But there are also cases where the person adopting is in a country that we can’t send the cats or dogs into. Or their breed might not be allowed on flights and such, such as dogs that have shorter snouts, or brachycephalic breeds might not be able to travel. We’re willing to fix this issue with you, they might need to be rehomed instead. But all in all, we try to focus on the fact that we will help and give advice when needed. We’re more than happy to stick with you until the problem is resolved. Don’t just leave them!
Mainly, for those who would like to support our work, you can volunteer to take them on walks at our shelter in Phuket! Where I’m sitting right now, you can see dogs walking in the background. All of them need new homes. We need them to get used to leash walking, so if they get a home abroad They have strict laws that dogs must be on leashes at all times. You have to use a leash, including Thais. That’s why we encourage everyone to take them outside with a leash on! Another point is that they were originally stray animals. They used to live on the streets, and might not be used to people. There are volunteers to help in this aspect, providing them socialization, playtime, getting used to people. Another thing is giving them the exercise they need. So they have a healthy heart from all the walking! Another way you can support us is through adopting a friend through Soi Dog. Our team is always happy to advise you, in all areas. We also have a sending off service, so no matter what area you live in, you can always ask us for assistance.
Another thing you can do to help Soi Dog is expanding our foundations mission and mindset to be more widespread and known.
An example would be about vaccination and sterilization. It’s such a crucial element for both strays and pets. Or through adoption rather than buying pets from breeding farms, is another thing too. If more people are aware and understand this, our mission of improving stray’s welfare can be accomplished faster as well. Thank you.
MyFriend would like to thank K.Aum and Soi Dog Foundation for being so welcoming and eager to be our friend and conduct this interview! As well as sharing heart-warming and wholesome stories of the journey Soi Dog has taken. 🐶🐱
If any of you are interested or would like to consider adoption, or even have friends who are abroad that are interested in providing a forever home for these strays, don’t forget to send them this interview and check out Soi Dog’s website for more information. www.soidog.org
Who else is MyFriend going to introduce you to? Stay tuned for next week’s Meet MyFriends!
💙 Meet MyFriends! is here to take you all to get to know new friends! Whether it’s fellow parents, business owners, or professionals in the field, pet lovers get to hear all the wholesome stories they have to offer!
🐶🐱 MyFriend, your pet’s app. Where pet parents can find all services and content to take better care of their best friends!