Visiting Soi Dog facilities in Thailand

By James Herlihy, Digital Strategy Director

I’ve been privileged to work with Soi Dog Foundation since 2013, helping the great Thai charity raise millions of dollars and build a big online community to support its fantastic animal welfare work.

But while I’ve known all about Soi Dog’s programs for years, I found out a few weeks ago that it’s a whole different thing to experience them in the flesh.

Stuart Ghent, Pareto’s Creative Director, and I travelled to Soi Dog in Phuket for two days of intensive workshops on bequests, retention and lead generation. Luckily for us, our trip incorporated a visit to the Soi Dog shelter to see first-hand its extensive programs and facilities – the latter recently renamed the Gill Dalley Sanctuary in honour of its late co-founder. Most of the animals at the Sanctuary are either awaiting adoption, or failing that, will live out their lives safe, fed and looked after by Soi Dog and its donors.

The compound was a hive of industry, with scores of volunteers taking care of animals alongside local staff and highly trained vets and specialists. Facilities include a state-of-the-art animal hospital, facilities for sick and injured cats, and scores of runs for dogs rescued around Thailand (some from the dog meat trade). The dog runs include seniors who cannot be adopted out or repatriated, and the puppy run, an obvious favourite for visitors.

The tailored care that is given to animals with very specific injuries and conditions is impressive to say the least. Dogs that have permanently lost their hair to fungal infection are at risk of skin damage and infection, so have moisturiser and sun cream applied to protect them from Thailand’s strong sun. There are special wards for cats with specific conditions like Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, and tailored wheelchairs for dogs who have lost the use of their limbs. No animal – whether treatable or terminal – is ever turned away or refused treatment by Soi Dog.

I was also impressed by Soi Dog’s integration of fundraising into its facilities. Shelter from the elements is very important in Thailand, so Soi Dog has allowed individuals and organisations to sponsor salas (protective pergolas) in the dog runs – with proud signage recognising their contributions. The charity is working on a related idea for its bequest program at the moment.

Soi Dog also integrates its well-developed dog sponsorship program nicely into the facilities. Dogs available for sponsorship are introduced on cards affixed to their run’s fence. The card includes a QR code that you can scan to go to a mobile-optimised web page where you can sponsor that very dog you’re in front of with a minimum of fuss. Neat huh?!

We always appreciate all the work that our charity partners do. But getting out of the office and experiencing first-hand the impact and dedication you have for your beneficiaries still always blows us away – and we’re privileged to be able to experience that.

Thanks to Soi Dog and all our charity partners working to make the world a better place.

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