Soi Dog Foundation closed as ‘warning’

PHUKET: The Phuket Provincial Livestock Office (PPLO) on September 16 ordered the Soi Dog Foundation (SDF) in Tambon Rassada to suspend operations on the grounds that it is not in compliance with Thai law because it is not registered under the name of a Thai veterinarian.

PPLO Chief Sunart Wongchawalit told the Gazette that Phuket has up to 17 animal rescue foundations. Under Thai law, each must employ a graduate in veterinary science from a Thai university and be registered with the PPLO. Such permission is generally granted within a week, he said, provided the foundation meets all criteria.

K. Sunart explained that the SDF was the second animal rescue group ordered closed by the PPLO. The other one formerly worked out of Chalong, he said.

He added that the SDF closure was only a warning, but added that the force of law could be applied if the clinic continues to operate without proper licensing.

As for the real reason behind the closure, K. Sunart admitted it was because the SDF had failed to post an apology on its website for comments it formerly posted there critical of the Mid Road Dog Shelter in Thalang, which is run by the PPLO.

“They were even warned by the Thai branch of the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) to remove the comments on the website,” he said.

The Soi Dog Foundation is one of many WSPA-affiliated groups.

“The information was all wrong,” said the Livestock Chief. “They apologized to us on September 16, promising to remove that information from their website and issue an apology. They removed the information, but have yet to post an apology.”

Animal rights advocate Margot Homburg-Park, head of the SDF, said she was shocked by the closure order. She said the SDF clinic would cease operations until it came into compliance, after reapplying under the name of a Thai veterinarian already in their employ.

“I was told we could operate as a clinic until we had formal foundation status, then get the proper license. There is another clinic that doesn’t have a license and they are not closed down,” she said. “So I think there’s a personal issue.”

She said that the clinic was complying with the order by not sterilizing any animals, but that it had a moral obligation to continue caring for the many dogs that had been “dumped” there.

“We have now applied for the license in the name of our Thai vet. All the paperwork has been submitted, so I hope we get the license and can start operating again, because we are losing a lot of time – normally we sterilize 30 animals a day,” she said.

She said WSPA had never complained to them and that the SDF had already apologized to K. Sunart about the website information, which was removed long ago.

“If there is anything wrong, somebody has written a letter to the PPLO complaining about the pound, making very strong statements, and signed that letter “Soi Dog Foundation”. But we did not write that letter,” she said.

“We had meetings with the PPLO about ways to help the Mid Road Shelter. Why would I write a letter of complaint?” she said.

Robin Holding, WSPA Asia Region Director, told the Gazette that he had never talked to the SDF directly about the problematic website information.

“I was informed by Roger Lohanan of Thai Animal Guardians [another WSPA-affiliated group] that he had advised Margot to remove the information from the website, otherwise it would make life difficult for SDF – or even have them forced off the island. That’s all I know about it, really,” he said.

Phuket News
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