Soi Dog Foundation
SOI DOG – PHUKET
Soi Dog in Phuket is one of the largest dog rescue centres in Asia and they currently home around 800 dogs. They campaign tirelessly to end the dog meat trade in Vietnam, Cambodia and other Southeast Asian countries where it is prevalent and campaign to improve animal welfare right across Asia. They have a strong spay and neuter programme and support other rescue centres in this important cause.
Location: 167/9 Soi Mai Khao, Phuket 83110
Daily expenses: 100 bht per day pick up minibus, 50 bht per day lunch on site, 300-800 bht per day accommodation, evening meals around 100 bht per night.
Accommodation: Soi Dog send you a list of recommended accommodation ideas or you can look yourself on Booking.com. The preferred area for anyone staying is Nai Yang, which is around 5 minutes from the main Phuket airport and located in a quiet beach resort. Accommodation prices vary from private bungalows to budget hotels and hostels but Phuket is one of the more expensive islands so if you are on a budget then hostels are the only option. The first time I stayed I had a private bungalow on a small resort for 800 bht per night. The second time I stayed at the Luna Hostel for 310 bht per night right by the airport. Mention you are visiting Soi Dog when booking to get a discount. A lot of my group stayed here and it was quite social, plus the hostel is actually lovely with a really nice communal area to relax in, and a good breakfast included in the morning. The shared female dorm was clean with comfortable beds. The only downside was being next to the airport people were always coming and going throughout the night so if your a light sleeper it may not be for you. The volunteer bus picks you up just around the corner at 7/11 around 8.30 in the morning. Wherever you stay location wise just make sure you are by the pick up points for the pickup bus that comes in the morning. If you miss the bus its an expensive taxi ride in. Soi send you all the information you need in terms of picking up and where to stay.
Tasks: Walking the dogs from your assigned run. You are allocated a run on arrival and given a bag with your essential equipment, a folder with info about the dogs, and some leads. The runs vary in size but mine had around 27 dogs in. There are walking areas around a big lake which is nice and shaded and other areas the dogs can run freely around which you need to book a slot in. You are normally assigned 2 people to a run so its possible to get all the dogs walked by the end of the day. When I was there they picked a few dogs a week to go to the beach as a treat. At the time of my visit we could also volunteer and help out at the government dog shelter not far from Soi Dog. You will need to check if this is still the case.
What I loved: Very organised and well run, great atmosphere with the whole group and a really good sense of teamwork. There’s a lot of nationalities from many different countries and different walks of life . The dogs were really happy and well looked after. When you first meet your assigned run it can be a bit overwhelming as you can’t believe you could ever remember all the dogs names or their personalities but after a few days you really get into the swing of it. There’s no better feeling than seeing the dogs getting really excited when you arrive and realising you’ve been accepted into the pack. At lunchtime everyone gathers to eat, everyone always excitedly shows off photos of “their dogs” and the conversation is always positive and fun. The enrichment for all the dogs is key to their wellbeing and Soi focus on this fact by ensuring all the dogs are walked as much as possible. It’s very rewarding knowing you are making them so happy. After lunch, and before the afternoon walks start again you can go and hang out with the cats for lots of socialising and cuddling. You can also go and visit the puppy run which is always a lot of fun. Everything throughout the centre is clean, well maintained and modern. Most evenings we would all go to the beach straight after work for a dip in the sea and then out later for dinner. I made a lot of friends from here.
Other things to note: In the height of season it is very very busy, so when you first arrive it can be a little daunting until you find your feet. It doesn’t take long to make friends though. You only do dog walking at Soi Dog unless you are a vet or veterinary nurse, as the staff do the feeding and cleaning throughout the day. I really enjoyed the dog walking, but be warned, in the afternoon it can get incredibly hot so make sure you bring a hat and drink plenty of water. The second time I visited was great but I did feel like I wanted to do a bit more. If you do decide to help out at the government dog pound its more hands on with cleaning and bathing and lots of other things to do as well. That said I would definitely go back to Soi to help again a 3rd or even 4th time. I loved every moment. Oh and you will definitely get upset saying goodbye to your dogs when its time to go home! Which probably explains why they get so many people returning to Soi , you can’t help fall in love with “your” run.
Do I recommend here: Yes