Volunteering at Soi Dog has definitely been one the highlights of my round the world trip so far – it’s so good I’ve been 3 times already! The shelter is in Mai Khao, which is in the North of Phuket island. Volunteer hours are 9-4 Mon-Fri and you can volunteer for as little or as long as you want. It is a definite must if you love dogs and want to volunteer somewhere for free in Thailand.
The Soi Dog Foundation was founded in 2003 by three people; Margot Homburg Park and John and Gill Dalley. They are a nonprofit charity organisation which operates not only in Thailand, but Australia, France, Canada, Holland, the UK and the USA. Soi Dog is now the largest organisation in Asia which helps stray animals.
Their mission is:
”To improve the welfare of dogs and cats in Asia, resulting in better lives for both the animal and human communities, to end animal cruelty, and to ultimately create a society without homeless animals.”
Soi Dog cares for stray, abused and neglected dogs and cats. One of the most effective ways to reduce the suffering of these animals is by sterilisation, of which Soi dog has now sterilised over 125, 764 dogs and cats. They also have a vaccination programme which helps to stop the rabies virus. Thanks to Soi Dog’s hard work, Phuket Island is now completely rabies free.
This year at their shelter in Mai Khao, the largest and most modern animal hospital in Asia was opened. The hospital can treat over 100 dogs at one time. They also have around 400 dogs at the shelter which have been abandoned or abused. Dogs which are healthy and suitable for adoption will be adopted out to families in Thailand and overseas.
Soi Dog also does amazing work to raise awareness and help end the dog meat trade. In 2014 the Thai government changed its laws so that it is now illegal for dogs and cats to be consumed and transported to other countries to be killed for food. Dogs that have been rescued from the illegal meat trade are held at a shelter in Buriram, just north of Bangkok. As soon as there is space available at the Soi Dog shelter in Mai Khao, a number of dogs are taken there to be socialised for adoption and most of them are then sent to shelters in America/Canada.
These were some of the lucky Dog Meat Trade Dog survivors that I was blessed enough to meet. They are the friendliest and loveliest bunch of dogs!
Lots of people who plan to volunteer for a week end up staying for longer because they love it so much. The job of the volunteers is to socialise the dogs so that they can be adopted, which means lots of walking and cuddling. If you are volunteering for a week or more, you will probably be put into your own run, which can have upto 20 dogs. There is a mixture of dogs in these runs, some of which have illnesses that cannot be treated, so they will spend the rest of their lives there. Others will only be there for a short while if they are lucky enough to be adopted. Many of these dogs have been subject to cruelty from humans, so some of them might be missing legs or eyes, and they might be very wary of you at first. There’s nothing more rewarding though, than a dog that won’t come near you to begin with, but after you gain its trust it becomes your best friend by the end of your time there.
You can also spend your time there by playing with the puppies…
Visiting the old and small dogs…
Or chilling with the cats…
Also, I just want to mention that it’s super easy to eat vegan in Thailand. Just look out for the JAY/JAI symbol which means vegan in Thai. When ordering food in a restaurant, remember to ask for no oyster sauce or fish oil. There’s always lots of vegan options and the local markets are a great place to pick up fresh fruit and veg.
Jay symbol for vegan in Thai ⬇⬇⬇ (looks like number 17)
Soi Dog is also a great place to make animal-loving friends from all over the world (even if you are kinda anti-social like me!) Most people choose to stay at Nai Yang beach where there is a free pick up and drop off for volunteers everyday. The beach has got the most beautiful sunsets and the friendliest beach dogs that you will ever meet! I can guarantee that if you come to volunteer, the dogs will steal your heart and you will never want to leave. 🐺💛
If you would like more information about Soi Dog or how to donate/volunteer, please visit www.soidog.org 🐾