I decided to visit the Soi Dog Foundation in Phuket having been a long term follower and occasional donator.
I was overwhelmed at how professional this (now) institution is and I was in no doubt that money sent here is being well spent. The facility is very impressive and even has its own hospital where training Thai vets learn to treat animals. This was the dream of the late co-founder Gill Dalley (2017) and her husband John as treating animals at local hospitals was proving too expensive.
It was due to this incredible women’s strength, will and support of those that donate to the foundation that this dream was realized.
Sadly the founder of the foundation, Gill Dalley passed away in 2017 (her statue is shown as this articles main image), however, her legacy lives on and her partner John continues the work here.
Gill and John married in Phuket in 1996 having left successful careers in the UK, Gill was in banking and John the chemicals industry. They decided to move to Phuket full time in 2003 and wanted to give back and contribute to the well being of the island.
Gill and John teamed up with a Dutch expat named Margot Homburg who had set up a charity called the Soi Dog Foundation and was independantly running a neutering programme to control the dog population. Agreeing that this was the best way to reduce the escalating number of stray dogs, Gill, John and Margot joined forces taking stray dogs to vets whenever possible.
Since its humble beginings, the Soi Dog Foundation has neutered over half a million dogs and cats including 80% of Phukets stray dog population. The sight of thousands of sick homless dogs in Phuket thanks to these incredible efforts is no more. With neutering programmes running throughout the Kingdom, the foundation claims that it is now neutering and vaccinating more stray animals than any other foundation in the world.
Visiting the shelter is not just a way of giving back, perhaps making a donation or feeling you’ve done something good with your time, it is also a great day out in as much as any tourist-related activity is concerned. I felt really at peace spending time with these great people and rescued animals (which you can pet and play with).
Volunteers are wanted here and will be required to walk dogs and even sit and spend time with cats and dogs to help them adjust to humans following in some cases horrendous ordeals. Our tour guide ‘Bed’ (shown in the group photo) was really helpful and informative and all the volunteers were eager to talk and answer questions.
Owen, a UK national now living in Phuket (shown on the right) was one such volunteer. Just spending five minutes with him talking about animal cruelty and how much satisfaction he gets from his work was enough for me to want to sign up there and then. The people, the area and the energy was at times serene.
I noticed that a lot of the dogs at the shelter had just three legs and Bed (our tour guide) informed me that this was really common as the animals had either been hit by a car or bike, been damaged in cages when trafficked or had been maimed by previous owners. That being said, all the animals here looked happy and healthy.
The dogs all have their own areas depending on age, size and ability to socialize with people.
A favourite area of mine was a dog pen where you can walk in and pet dogs of all shapes and sizes. TIP: If you can’t have a dog where you live for whatever reason then this is the place to get some TLC from animals that really appreciate your time. Watch your shoelaces and these dogs loved to undo them!!!
This gallery below shows the various dog housing areas, volunteers, recovering dogs following operations and a swimming pool to be used for therapy currently under construction.
This gallery below shows the cat sanctuary and recovery areas. From the left, a cat pen with cats sleeping on shelves, cats relaxing during the day, Bed (the tour guide) petting a cat and finally me petting a blind white cat that I really bonded with.
I made a donation again today will continue to support this incredible place. Thank you to all the staff here at the SDF and thank God for people like John and Gill Dalley.