Connect with us


Opinion: Sterilizing Phuket strays

Legacy Phuket Gazette



John Dalley, originally from Leeds in the United Kingdom, is the president of the Soi Dog Foundation. John worked as a chemical plant manager for many years before retiring in 2002. In September 2003, he became involved with the Soi Foundation when it first started in Phuket.

Here, he talks about the soi dog problem in Phuket, and Thailand, the approaches the Soi Dog Foundation has taken to reduce the number of genuinely stray dogs on the streets and what needs to be done in the future.

PHUKET: The stray dog issue draws a number of comments from foreign residents, especially those who tend to compare Thailand with their own countries.

To understand the issue, it is first necessary to understand Thailand. Dogs here fall into four categories. The first group are owned dogs kept in the confines of the owner’s property; the second are owned dogs who are allowed to roam free; the third are those classified as community dogs, who are
accepted by locals and fed, but with nobody accepting outright ownership. It is the second and third categories that make up the majority of dogs in Phuket. The fourth is made up of true strays that are generally wild and avoid human contact.

The number of dogs living in an area is determined by the human population living in that area. Dogs, as we know them, are descendants of dogs who were domesticated thousands of years ago from the wolf.

Although still exhibiting many characteristics, dogs have lost the ability to hunt in packs as their ancestors did. Dogs rely on man for food, and when not fed directly, will rely on scavenging amongst food waste thrown out by humans.

There are only two ways to reduce the number of dogs on the streets. The first is euthanization of all dogs not confined to homes, but achieving this is controversial and has never been successful in developing countries. Thai society, being predominantly Buddhist, does not accept mass killing of dogs.

The second, a proven method, is mass sterilization. In the same way that vaccinating 70 per cent of dogs against rabies will eliminate the disease, sterilizing 70 per cent of dogs will stabilize the population. Once the figure of 70 per cent is passed, a reduction can be seen.

The Soi Dog Foundation has completed a three-year program, working in collaboration with local authorities, that has seen close to 30,000 dogs sterilized on Phuket.

It is now proving difficult for our teams to find unsterilized dogs on the street.

Over the past 10 years, the population of dogs on the island has decreased and will continue to do so. However, a maintenance program will be needed, as many owners do not agree with sterilization and resulting puppies are dumped. Also, hundreds of unvaccinated puppies are imported each year from commercial puppy farms for sale at pet shops and markets. This can not only compromise the island’s rabies-free status, but unsold puppies end up being dumped, and a significant number of purchased dogs are abandoned when health or behavioral issues arise.

Most people, including local authorities, are looking for a quick fix.

Removing dogs to under-funded dog pounds or other areas will not work long term and can have a detrimental effect when vaccinated, sterilized dogs are removed.

Left in place, these dogs not only have a built in herd immunity to rabies but they cannot breed.

Assuming a food source is there and existing dogs have been removed, other genuine stray dogs seeking a better source of food will move in, and if not sterilized, the problem starts again.

The number of stray dogs in Thailand can be reduced dramatically, but while owners continue to allow their pets to roam, the sight of dogs on the streets will always be a feature of Thailand.


Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forum
🔔 Subscribe to our daily newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram


Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Coronavirus (Covid-19)9 hours ago

Expert says Delta Plus could be up to 15% more transmissible than Delta Covid variant

Thailand10 hours ago

Thailand News Today | Dirty medical gloves, Thailand defends spending 100m on New year celebrations | Oct. 26

Thailand11 hours ago

Digital platforms to be subject to new regulations following draft decree

Sponsored12 hours ago

Don’t wait!! Book your berth or booth at the Thailand International Boat Show

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Bangkok11 hours ago

Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport prepares for November reopening

Coronavirus (Covid-19)11 hours ago

Tuesday Covid Update: 7,706 new cases; provincial totals

Thailand12 hours ago

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha addresses Southeast Asia leaders at 38th ASEAN summit

Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Thailand15 hours ago

November reopening concerns majority of Thais, Department of Health survey shows

Thailand15 hours ago

British divers say they risked arrest for giving boys ketamine during cave rescue

World16 hours ago

US President Biden to join ASEAN summit as leaders poised to discuss key regional issues

Thailand17 hours ago

Prayut orders investigation into used medical gloves exported to the US

Coronavirus (Covid-19)17 hours ago

Health officials play down concerns over Thailand’s first case of Delta Plus variant

Bangkok18 hours ago

Chulalongkorn students drop royal parade on grounds it promotes “authoritarianism”

Thailand18 hours ago

Thailand Top Stories | TAT explains entry for travelers outside quarantine exemption list | October 26

Phuket18 hours ago

Thai PM defends plan to spend 100 million baht on New Year’s Eve celebrities

Tourism19 hours ago

Government’s domestic tour package subsidy receives lukewarm response

Thailand1 month ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism8 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism8 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism8 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand9 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand10 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand10 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand10 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand10 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11