A one-eyed stray puppy in Thailand has become the millionth animal to be neutered and vaccinated by animal welfare organisation Soi Dog Foundation.
Aptly named ‘Million’, the homeless puppy was taken in by one of the foundation’s mobile sterilisation teams after she was found on the streets of Nakhon Si Thammarat, and soon after became the millionth animal to pass through its large-scale spay/neuter and vaccination programme since its founding in 2003.
It is the first time in history that this number of stray animals has been neutered and vaccinated by a single organisation.
“This incredible achievement simply would not have been possible without the support of our donors around the world,” said Soi Dog Foundation co-founder and president John Dalley MBE.
“Dogs like Million deserve so much better than to be born into short lives of suffering on the streets. It is, and has always been, our mission to get to the root cause of that suffering by means of sterilisation, and we are grateful to have supporters who wholeheartedly believe in that mission too,” he added.
John and his late wife Gill, who hail from Yorkshire, UK, established Soi Dog Foundation in Phuket in order to address the overpopulation of stray dogs – known as ‘soi’ dogs – after retiring to the Thai island in 2003. From humble beginnings, it has steadily grown to become the largest stray animal welfare organisation in Southeast Asia and this year celebrates its 20th anniversary.
The foundation’s spay/neuter and vaccination programme – known as its CNVR (Catch, Neuter, Vaccinate, Return) programme – has been at the forefront of its work from the very start. The CNVR approach is widely recognised as the most humane and effective way of reducing the overpopulation of stray animals and stemming the spread of disease, including rabies.
“In our first three months, we managed to sterilise 175 animals and just over 1,200 the entire following year. Although those numbers sound small, as with anything in life you have to start somewhere,” said John.
Fast-forward to today, and the foundation is now neutering and vaccinating more than
20,000 animals like Million every single month through its mobile teams and partner projects across Thailand.
The programme has produced clear results in Phuket, where sustained efforts have reduced the stray population by over 90% and where disease control is such that the island is set to officially become Thailand’s first rabies-free province.
Yearly surveys conducted by the International Companion Animal Management Coalition (ICAM) show similarly positive results in Greater Bangkok, where the foundation has neutered and vaccinated over half a million animals. The large stray population in the capital is steadily declining, and a more compassionate attitude towards animals is being fostered by local communities.
Supporting these efforts in Greater Bangkok is Dogs Trust Worldwide – the international arm of the UK’s largest dog welfare charity – who have funded half of the programme there since 2016. Soi Dog Foundation receives no government funding to carry out its work and is solely dependent upon donations from kind individuals and grant-funding organisations like Dogs Trust Worldwide who share its passion for improving the lives of stray animals.
“We’re so proud to have been an integral partner to the project in Bangkok since 2016,” said Director of Dogs Trust Worldwide Karen Reed.
“We are committed to improving the lives of dogs and the relationship dogs have with the communities in which they live all around the world, so we know just how important this project continues to be for every single dog and cat.
“On behalf of everyone here at Dogs Trust Worldwide, we congratulate Soi Dog Foundation on reaching this milestone,” she added.
Soi Dog Foundation also operates rescue, treatment, humane education and community outreach programmes from its shelter in Phuket. It was at the shelter’s state-of-the-art dog hospital that Million herself underwent further surgery to remove her right eye which had been badly injured after she was hit by a car – sadly an all-too-common occurrence for stray dogs who are left to roam the streets freely.
With the stray dog population in Thailand sitting at an estimated 10-12 million, the foundation is committed to continuing to grow its CNVR programme, operating it in tandem with its other programmes which all form part of its holistic approach to enhancing animal welfare in Asia.
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