Soi Dog Foundation
|Founder||Margot Homburg Park|
|Registration no.||Phor.Gor. 39/2548 (Thailand)|
|Purpose||Control of stray dogs|
The Soi Dog Foundation is a nonprofit organisation for the welfare of dogs. Its headquarters is in Phuket, Thailand, and it has been legally registered in the United States, Australia, France, United Kingdom, and Netherlands. Its primary goal is to care for homeless and abused dogs in Thailand. It was established by British couple John and Gill Dalley with the help of Margot Homburg Park in Phuket in 2003.
The foundation has saved dogs from illegal trades, particularly for meat, and tries to reduce free-ranging dog populations through sterilisation. Soi is a Thai word for "street", a reference to the fact that smaller streets in Thailand often teem with stray dogs. The sterilisation programme has been extended to stray cats. It gets support from international celebrities including Dame Judi Dench, Laura Carmichael, and Ricky Gervais. The foundation's 2014 campaign led to the enactment of the Prevention of Animal Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act, the first animal welfare act in Thailand.
Background and origin
Thailand has traditionally been known for its stray dogs and dog trade. There are dog butchers, dog tanneries, and holding centres for captive canines. Many dogs are exported to Vietnam and China for dog meat. The dog trade involves smuggling by organised gangs. Thailand's largest island, Phuket, is the major centre of such activities, and is the home of many stray dogs. The Thai Veterinary Medical Association reported that in 2011, half a million dogs were traded to Vietnam and China.
These dogs are trapped and collected to be sold in the market or passed on to traders for export. The animals often suffer during transport due to congested packing in crates, and many of them suffocate and die in the process. Seeing this appalling situation, American-born Margot Homburg Park decided to join hands with a British couple, John and Gill Dalley, to try and end the suffering of dogs in Thailand. John Dalley is a retired chemical engineer from Leeds, England, and Gill a former bank employee. Gill Dalley died after a short illness on February 12, 2017.  The couple had moved to Phuket for a retired life. John Dalley remarked, "We had a dog back home [in Leeds], but I wasn't particularly involved with animal rights. But you see these dogs [in Thailand] suffer, and you want to do something to help them."
In 2003 they established the foundation by opening a clinic and recruiting veterinarians on a volunteer basis to take care of homeless dogs. For their name, they chose the Thai word soi, which means "street", hence, the organisation literally means "street dog foundation". They began by sterilising and vaccinating stray dogs. In 2005, the foundation was officially registered, becoming the first animal welfare organisation in Thailand. In 2011, a permanent clinic was opened in Bangkok, the nation's capital. The foundation's slogan is "Trade of Shame". As a result of its vaccination effort, Phuket is the only Thai province that is declared free of rabies.
The foundation sterilises over 10,000 stray dogs every year to reduce the population living on the streets. It keeps around 1,000 homeless dogs under care. Soi Dog Foundation has now started sterilising stray cats as well. Its task force has intercepted a number of dogs intended for transport to Vietnam. The workers from Soi Dog have exposed illegal dog butchers, dog skin tanneries, and holding pens, resulting in the rescue of many dogs. Dog export has been reduced to one-third of that in 2011.
British celebrities Judi Dench, Laura Carmichael, Peter Egan, Penelope Wilton and Ricky Gervais launched a public campaign to support the causes of the foundation in 2014. The foundation also created a public petition for the government of Thailand to take action on cruelty to dogs and dog meat trading. The petition was signed by close to 1,200,000 people.
The campaign was a success in terms of political action. The National Assembly of Thailand passed its first Animal Welfare Bill on 13 December 2014. On 27 December, the government enacted the Prevention of Animal Cruelty and Provision of Animal Welfare Act, which was the first animal welfare act in Thailand.
Apart from the officials in the foundation, honorary ambassadors include Dena Kaplan, an Australian actress, singer, and dancer; Natalie Glebova, a Russian-Canadian model, writer, and holder of the Miss Universe 2005 title; and Kyle Leask, an autistic boy, and his dog Miracle, winner of the Eukanuba Friends For Life award.
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