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The creator of an organization responsible for saving stray animals and drafting the first-ever animal welfare legislation in Thailand received a prestigious award earlier this month from the British monarchy, though in a recent interview the man himself played his role.
"This is 17 years of work, with thousands of supporters and volunteers," John Dalley, of the Soi Dog Organization, said. "It's nothing that I could have done myself."
"The mission will continue until long after I die, which is to avoid having stray dogs and cats in Thailand," he said.
On Oct. 10, Dalley, 71, was made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, or MBE, for his animal protection campaigns in Southeast Asia. The foundation he created helps to sterilize and decrease the population of stray animals in Thailand, as well as to draft the law on animal welfare that entered into effect in 2014.
His citation was named in the Birthday Honors List of Queen Elizabeth II, which also awards multiple honors and awards to several notable Commonwealth people. It is the third-highest royal decoration that the British monarch has handed out.
After retiring to Phuket with his late wife, Gill, Dalley, who hails from Leeds in the UK, began Soi Dog in 2003 to golf, scuba diving, and save street dogs they saw while on vacation.
There were thousands of hungry dogs, "he added," and there was nobody doing anything about it.
The pair offered their all, risking the limb for their cause and losing it. In 2004, when a rare infection entered her skin and almost killed her, Gill lost both of her legs when rescuing a dog in a flooded field.
From pink to blue, she turned. She nearly perished, but we managed to save her arms,' recalled Dalley.
Only four days later, the pair who had flown to Bangkok to be hospitalized had returned to Phuket. The tsunami of 2004 has just struck, and Soi Dog was working around the clock trying to save the devastation from the animals.
By Dec. 2019, 500,000 dogs and cats, half of them in the last two years, had been sterilized by Soi Dog. Today, Soi Dog has eight mobile teams, six of them in Bangkok, and they still work in Chonburi and Nakhon Si Thammarat.
In 2014, Dalley drafted the country's first law on animal welfare on the drafting board, and he is one of the few foreigners to ever address the Thai Parliament.
While Dalley recommended that the maximum penalty be used to punish animal abuse, it is now rare to enforce punishment of two years in prison and a 40,000 baht fine in the law.
Nothing has ever happened like that. This law is not yet been taken seriously, especially in Phuket,' said Dalley. "It's just reckless cruelty. Those who are cruel to animals are also cruel to humans and children as well.
One of Dalley's dogs, Cola, had a man with a ceremonial sword hacking both her legs off because she had been nibbling on his boots. The man received just three months of probation, Dalley said.
Just recently, in Phuket, an Australian guy beat a metal bar dog and paid off the owner of the dog, who didn't prosecute the case. During a storm, an Irishman threw a dog out of a car and was charged with a fine of 3,000 baht.
In the most recent case published, a Chinese woman was convicted of kidnapping stray cats for torture by a court in Krabi province, taking their nails out and locking them in a refrigerator. The woman's six-month jail sentence was postponed.
"This should not be the case. Dalley replied, "It should go to court; you should not be able to buy yourself out of it." "If nobody pushed, in most cases, nothing would happen."
The organization still has a dearth of volunteers due to coronavirus travel restrictions, as many were foreigners who walked dogs and flew dogs to adopters overseas.
Soi Dog continues to capture, neuter, vaccinate and return stray animals; the organization is strictly averse to putting dogs in government animal shelter facilities that leave unneutered dogs behind bars to reproduce and die.
Either contact them directly or donate via Charity Navigator to donate to Soi Dog.
Source: Khao Sod English