SPOTLIGHT: Soi Dog Foundation

The Joyous Living: Spotlight on Soi Dog

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Hello! I am thrilled to introduce my first SPOTLIGHT feature focusing on the incredible Soi Dog Foundation and Marketing Team Leader, Steff. I first heard of Soi Dog thanks to their help when my own dog, Hastings Alyosha, needed medical treatment after being rescued from a dog meat slaughterhouse. We’ve been grateful ever since and so I was thrilled to connect with Steff so I could share some more about Soi Dog with you all. Enjoy!

Steff, How did you get involved with SOI DOG? 

The Joyous Living: Spotlight on Soi Dog Foundation
Steff and a rescue dog at Soi Dog (c) Soi Dog/Steff

I was heavily involved with animal rescue in my home country of England, and had always planned to visit the Soi Dog shelter during my backpacking trip round Asia. I was already aware of Soi Dog Foundation and had always wanted to see their work first hand.

Once I arrived, I quickly realised it would be difficult to leave! I volunteered for 8 weeks before a paid opportunity arose within the Fundraising Team. I was over the moon when I found out I was successful, as I had never planned on moving to Thailand permanently but it was an opportunity I could not let pass me by.

A year later, I then moved onto my current position as Marketing Team Leader.

Many folks think we should be focusing on dogs and cats in our local shelters and communities. How do you answer the need to help the dogs and cats in Asia?

Soi Dog Foundation is based and operational in Thailand. We adopt many dogs and cats into loving homes here every year. We also adopt dogs and cats into loving homes throughout Europe, Canada, the US, and other countries around the world.

Ultimately, it is up to an individual whether they choose to adopt a rescue dog or cat from an organization abroad or from within their home country, e.g., the US.

Many of the dogs and cats in our care have endured a great deal of trauma and suffering, as a result of years spent struggling to survive on the streets. Others have been rescued from the dog meat trade, which involves brutal torture prior to killing dogs for their meat. Still others were rescued from neglect and abuse situations. Because spay/neuter is relatively uncommon in Thailand (though we are actively trying to change that and to date have sterilised more than 315,000 dogs and cats), there is an enormous stray dog problem. In Bangkok, for example, there are approximately 640,000 stray dogs. This means that many dogs are born on the streets into a lifetime of suffering.

Many people who choose to adopt from another country, such as the US, do so because they want to give a second chance to a dog or cat who has suffered significantly. It is not uncommon for our adopters to also have rescue dogs and cats from local shelters as well. In other words, they care about saving the lives of animals both locally and internationally.

Have you adopted from SOI DOG? How was the transition for your dog/cat?

The Joyous Living; Spotlight on Soi Dog
Steff at Soi Dog (c) Soi Dog/Steff

I am a hospice carer for dogs at the shelter. This means I care for ones who are terminally ill to give them life in a home for their final chapter.

I currently have two. Pola is a 7 year old pitbull mix with lung cancer, and Fides is a 10 year old boxer mix with skin cancer and a problem with her hind leg so she struggles to walk. They both settled in right away! Pola did have an owner previously so was already house trained and used to a lead etc. Fides was a street dog so it took a while for her to understand the house was not a toilet!

Seeing them happy in a home far outweighs the sadness I feel when they pass, although palliative care is definitely not for everyone as it can be very difficult.

How do dogs and cats get to the UK if they cannot be flown there with flight volunteers? 

For animals to be adopted to the UK from Soi Dog, they travel on a journey we call the ‘Super Six.’

This is a long and complicated journey which is why flight volunteers can’t be used, and instead only experienced members of shelter staff. Two members of staff accompany six dogs as this fits with regulation limits for the flight from Phuket to Bangkok, then Bangkok to Amsterdam.

Once in Amsterdam they are met by kind volunteers who host them for the evening with all 6 dogs.

The next afternoon, they travel by ferry to the UK, and meet the adopters at Harwich port.

It takes around 48 hours in total and this journey happens around 6 times a year depending on the amount of animals that are adopted to the UK.

I have done this trip myself, and it was one of the most fantastic experiences of my life. I will never forget the emotional feeling when we walked through the doors in the UK greeted by excited adopters ready to embark on a new journey with the animals.

SOI DOG has been fortunate to have the backing of celebrities such as Dame Judi Dench, Laura Carmichael, Ricky Gervais. Were they paid for their appearance in the SOI DOG video advertisement?

No, they were not paid in any way. They offered to feature in our video as they are compassionate towards animals and want to see the end of the dog meat trade as soon as possible.

Can you tell us a bit about your team at SOI DOG?

There are around 250 paid staff who work for SDF, and many volunteers. The marketing team consists of 7 people who are all very talented and compassionate towards animals. We have a graphic designer, a photographer, a PR person, a person who deals with admin, and three people who design merchandise, the brand and marketing campaigns along with social media.

What is your most pressing need for volunteers at SOI DOG?

Volunteers are absolutely essential and are the true hero’s at the shelter. Their primary role is to walk and socialise the animals. This is very important to finding them new homes.

We also have volunteer vets and vet nurses who assist in the hospital, and many volunteers around the world who provide home-checks, assistance to adopters and fundraising events.

All of our board members are also volunteers.

What advise do you have for anyone who feels called to make a difference by starting their own non profit or charity?

While the knee jerk reaction to animal suffering is often to set up a shelter, shelters are very expensive, limited in their capacity, and once they are full they are full. Shelters may need to be registered as well with the government, depending on your location. I’d urge you to consider programs which involve curtailing the stray dog population issue such as a spay/neuter program, community outreach/education program, or potential [sic] a low-cost clinic.

The Joyous Living: Spotlight on Soi Dog Foundation

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22 Comments

  1. This was a very interesting article and it was helpful to read because I have a rescue dog from Korea and people ask me why I didn’t rescue from America. But I just know I love my little fur baby!

    • Yay for your first comment on THE JOYOUS LIVING. I thought perhaps you’d like this post because it points to a non profit. Have a couple christian non profits coming up soon too. I appreciate you taking time to read and comment back. Yes not everyone is into animals but we can agree when good work is being done. x

  2. It’s great to read about such an incredible organization. I have been active in rescue here for a while, with my personal strength being to offer a ‘rehab’ home for medical purposes. After the animal has had a surgery or major procedure, we use our spare room as a rehab room until they are ready to go into a regular foster home or adoption situation.

  3. It’s reassuring to know that there are people in all parts of this world doing everything they can to make every life count. It is a bit overwhelming to think about all the animals in this great big world that have no homes and are in need of basic care, I am truly grateful for all that this foundation does.

  4. I have three dogs and my husband breeds bullies. This is a great organization and I have not heard of the, but I also have not adopted a animal. Great information to share with those who are thinking about adopting.

  5. You cover alot of hard questions here. For instance, I have to agree, it is hard to justify saving animals from another country over your own. But I think a life saved is a life saved, one way or the other. Very cool discussion of an amazing foundation! Thank you for sharing.

  6. I am quite speechless. I knew that dog was something that is eaten around the world. That even cats get eaten. But never did I think there were actually dog meat slaughter houses. I find it repulsive to say the least. Soi Dog sounds like a great initiative though! Thank you for writing such an eye-opening post.

  7. Thank You for all you do! It’s great to read about such an incredible organization.
    I also do my part. Even if it’s nothing. I’m alone for 7 years since I came to the US.
    I always did have a god back in Europe. I wanted it so bad, but I decided to not to have any because I’m not confident it will have an amazing life with me traveling very often. So I rather remain alone.

  8. This sounds like a great foundation that divides needed medical treatment to the dog community and its owners. It’s great that you and your dog were able to benefit as well.

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