PHUKET: THE Soi Dog Foundation’s future (SDF) on Phuket is uncertain. Currently situated on 11.5 rai in Mai Khao, the foundation, which has been tackling Phuket’s severe stray dog problem since 2003, purchased half of the site in 2009.
They are now facing pressure from the landowner to buy the other half, which SDF currently utilizes, by October for 10 million baht – something they simply do not have the funds to do.
“Many crucial facilities are on the un-purchased land. The land SDF owns outright is not big enough to accommodate all our facilities,” SDF Director John Dalley explains.
SDF houses some 250 dogs at any given time, in shelters and dog runs, and there is also a hospital and staff accommodation on-site. All this demands plenty of space. SDF has managed to raise 5mn baht worth of funds for the land, and needs to raise the rest in six months, or the land will be bought by one of two commercial organizations that have expressed interest in it.
The recent outbreak of canine distemper among Phuket’s stray dogs increased SDF’s operating costs enormously and unexpectedly. The vaccination program has cost them over a quarter of a million baht on top of the 1mn baht SDF routinely spend each month sterilizing and treating stray dogs.
To help raise the additional 5mn baht needed, a Sunday brunch event was held at Evason Phuket & Bon Island on May 22. “If the money is not raised the future of SDF [as an organization] is not in danger, but its future on Phuket is,” John says.
They may be forced to move to cheaper land north of Phuket, in Krabi or Khao Lak, he continues.
“We have been offered financial assistance to move there. Both local government and commercial businesses have seen what has been achieved on Phuket and want us to do the same there,” he says.
But a Phuket without SDF would not be a pretty one, as Mr Dalley points out: “Expect to see a huge population explosion in stray dogs. Particularly as the number of puppies being brought onto the island from puppy farms for sale at weekend markets, for example, is growing rapidly.
“This is not only adding to population growth, but poses a serious rabies risk as these puppies are coming from areas where rabies is not under control,” he says.
“Local people and businesses here fail to realize just what impact sterilizing over 32,000 animals in the past seven years has had, and what the situation would be like now if this hadn’t happened. “The benefits to both tourism and the local community have been immense,” added John.
If able to remain, SDF would not only continue saving countless animals from suffering, but the situation on Phuket would see a significant improvement.
“At present the population is stable and with our planned expansion, Phuket would see sterilizations increased to 10,000 animals per year, which would see a further marked decrease in the stray population over the next five years,” he says.
The time is now for Phuket residents to show our appreciation and raise the necessary funds for this extraordinary and invaluable charity that we have been lucky to host.
— Alexandra Andersson