Saltdean father and son help Thai street dogs
Phuket, Thailand, July 31, 2018: Big-hearted David and Daniel Aitchison from Lenham Ave have travelled thousands of kilometres to help dogs – some found with horrific injuries or diseases – that have been rescued from the streets of Thailand, or from the vile Asian dog meat trade.
Instead of just soaking up the sunshine on the fabled beaches of Phuket, Daniel and his father David have been working with the Soi Dog Foundation as volunteers.
David explained how they got involved. “I discovered the Soi Dog foundation and the incredible story of how it was established in 2003 by John and Gill Dalley. I was inspired by the work being done to help the dogs and cats of Phuket and I promised myself that, when time allowed, volunteering would be my No 1 priority.
“The opportunity came in early July this year and I made the journey accompanied by my 19-year-old son Daniel. We were not disappointed. Our time here in the company of the dogs and the great many new friends that we have made along the way has been rewarding beyond words.”
He explained that each day the volunteers gather at 9am to be given bags containing essential equipment for the day ahead, including leads and harnesses, a folder listing the individual dogs details, a daily walking log and a grooming brush.
“As we approach the run we are enthusiastically greeted by the 23 dogs in our care. After a brief ‘Good morning’ to them, we start the walks. These are around 20 minutes, so its either twice around the lake or to the off-lead fields where the dogs can roam freely.
“We repeat this until as many of the dogs in the run have been walked as is possible in the time we have. We fully appreciate that the walks are the highlight of the dogs’ day, so we always do our best to ensure that this is quality time.”
All the dogs, he says, are individuals “and you quickly learn their preferences and habits. Patience and perseverance is required, especially with the shy, quiet ones.
“Another important part of our day is spending time in the enclosure socialising with our dogs. This is hugely rewarding as many of the shy dogs that that may have been wary of you when you first meet, get to know you, and trust and confidence builds – which is an essential part in the process of helping the dogs to find new permanent homes.”
John Dalley, founder of the charity, said, “It’s wonderful having people like David and Daniel giving up their time to help us.
“Although we have paid employees such as our veterinarians, we rely very much on volunteers to do much of the essential work. We are always most grateful for their generosity. We couldn’t do it without them.”
About Soi Dog
Soi Dog Foundation (“soi” is Thai for “alley” or “street”) was founded 15 years ago on Phuket. It is now the largest animal welfare charity in Southeast Asia, with the most modern animal hospital in Asia, working with stray animals.
Apart from rescuing sick and injured animals (and finding new homes for them – 600 were rehomed worldwide last year alone), the foundation’s main aim has been to control dog populations by neutering and vaccinating as many as possible, with the animals being returned to where they came from.
Soi Dog currently sterilises and vaccinates around 6,000 animals per month and more than 220,000 have been sterilised since operations began. This includes over 80% of Phuket’s stray dog population, a programme that has resulted in a much reduced stray dog population and Phuket being declared Thailand’s first rabies-free province
Soi Dog Foundation has now taken on a much bigger project – bringing the street dog population of Bangkok under control.
Soi Dog Foundation was also instrumental in wiping out the organised illegal dog meat trade that saw thousands of dogs, including people’s pets, stolen from Thailand and trucked in horrific conditions across Laos to Vietnam, where they were brutally slaughtered and their carcases sold to restaurants.
All these achievements come at a price – Soi Dog needs 15 million baht (approx US$430,000, €385,000, £342,000) a month to cover running costs. This comes entirely from donations.
The Soi Dog Foundation www.soidog.org
Soi Dog Foundation