About

Soi Dog Foundation, the fastest growing animal welfare organization in Southeast Asia, manages an animal shelter with around 400 dogs and dozens of cats. Soi Dog provides emergency veterinary treatment to street dogs and stray cats, runs widespread sterilization (spay/neuter) programs, adopts animals to permanent homes around the world, and is working to end the cruel and illegal dog meat trade between Thailand and Vietnam. Soi Dog is based in Phuket, Thailand and has a small but expanding operation in Bangkok.

Website
www.soidog.org
Founded
2003

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Belinda Davis

Belinda Davis volunteered at Soi Dog Foundation in October 2011 and June 2012, and is returning in June 2013. She is from Melbourne, Australia and works in the quality department for a beverage manufacturer. Belinda enjoys spending time with her cats Bobby and Lucy, making vegan food, listening to live music and watching horror movies. In her spare time, she loves to volunteer at her local farm animal sanctuary and is passionate about outreach work relating to animal rights issues.
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Why did you decide to volunteer abroad with Soi Dog in Thailand?

After volunteering for many years at a local animal sanctuary and having travelled overseas on many occasions, I decided it was time to combine my love of travel with my love of volunteering to help animals. I learned about Soi Dog Foundation when they held an information stall at a local pet expo; I decided they were an organization I would be honored to volunteer with. I contacted the head of Soi Dog Foundation to get more details and started planning my trip to Thailand. A friend heard about my planned trip and decided to join me. We were so excited about our trip that we held a movie night fundraiser before leaving to help raise money for the organization and we raised over $5000. I loved my time at Soi Dog Foundation so much that I returned for a second volunteer stint 8 months after my first trip and am about to travel to Thailand for a third time this month for my third volunteer trip.

Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

A typical day volunteering at Soi Dog Foundation would generally start with taking dogs out on walks around the small lake on site and spending some one-on-one time with individual dogs, which they love. In the heat of the day, I would sit in the runs with dogs and spend time socializing them and giving them the attention they crave. I would also spend time sitting quietly close by the more timid dogs to help them learn to trust people. Some days I would take brushes into the runs and give the dogs a groom and remove any ticks that may be found in their fur. Soi Dog Foundation also cares for street cats and a portion of each day would be spent in the cat facility, playing with the kittens and giving the adult cats some socialization. This is important for both the cats and dogs, to improve their chances of being re-homed. My favorite part of the day was spending time with the old age dogs. Some of them have had traumatic lives and I loved sitting, while patting or quietly talking to them. They really do appreciate the kindness shown by volunteers.

What made this volunteer abroad experience unique and special?

The most unique and special aspect of my volunteering experience was the time spent with the animals. I formed some very special bonds with some of the dogs, so much so that it was a very emotional experience for me when I had to return home. I fell in love with a very special elderly dog named Pimghon, who was quite confronting to look at due to injuries he sustained before being rescued by Soi Dog Foundation. Once I spent some time with him, I realized what a special dog he was and that he was happy living out his twilight years at Soi Dog Foundation. I also enjoyed meeting so many wonderful people who have dedicated their lives to helping the street dogs and cats of Thailand, as well as the opportunity to experience the Thai culture from a less touristy angle.

What did you wish you knew before going to Thailand?

I had previously travelled in Asia and Africa, so I was prepared for the cultural differences and climate. I believe I was given a great overview of what to expect when volunteering at the shelter and was given great advice about accommodation and the local area. The Soi Dog Foundation Shelter is not located near the main tourist hubs in Phuket, which suited me, but it is important for volunteers to understand this. The recommended area to stay is beautiful and has plenty of accommodation, restaurants and shops; however it does not have the night life or market culture that the main tourist areas do. I believe this made for a more pleasant stay for me but some volunteers may be looking for a bit more excitement on the weekends.

How has this experience impacted your future? (Personally, professionally, academically, etc.)

My Soi Dog experience has made me even more passionate about animal welfare and led me to being more involved with Soi Dog Australia, which helps to fundraise and build awareness. I am now on the committee and have been involved in organizing several fundraisers.