Before I start, let me say one thing.

I know, there are those out there, who say, that there are more worthy causes, than rescuing abandoned and sick dogs.

Curing cancer or AIDS, ending world hunger and protecting children.

And of course, they are right, no doubt about that!

But how many of those who say that actually choose to do anything like that and get out of their usual routine of getting up, going to work, going shopping, watching TV and going back to bed?

How many of us actually go the extra mile and make an extra effort? At least the guys at the Soi Dog Foundation choose to do something, instead of sitting around and complaining how bad the world is.

Soi Dog” is a made up word from the obvious “dog” and the Thai- word “soi” which practically means “street”.

There are thousands of abandoned dogs in Bangkok Others are roaming the villages and beaches of Thailand. Many of them are in a really awful state of health.

Not a horror- movie! This is real!

To understand why this happens here – not only here, though- is a bit hard to do without using some unwelcome stereotypes and simplifications…but here we go!

In rural areas and small villages, a dog (or a cat for that matter) is not so much a “pet” or “man’s best friend” as a “tool”. They serve a purpose of keeping the rats away, alarming people of snakes or intruders, guarding the property etc.

But as much as you wouldn’t play with- or pet your lawnmower, the owners are often not very nice to their dogs.

In the cities, things are a bit different or even worse. Even though Bangkok has a number of caring dog owners, there are people who keep dogs as a kind of “fashion- accessory”. Paris Hilton carries one around in a handbag and she is rich and famous. So her behavior has to be copied.

Take a stroll across the Chatuchak Market on a Sunday morning and venture into the “pet”- section- you will see hundreds of little, fluffy puppies. Some of them are said “handbag- dogs”. Some are “real” dogs like Huskies or Retrievers.

What many don’t understand are some basic facts:

a) a dog is not a toy to be used at random. It needs food and care. You need to walk it, groom it, wash it and -yes- it poops and pees!

b) they don’t stay cute and fluffy! They grow and get big, old and sick…and sometimes even pretty “ugly”.

c )you just don’t pay a few hundred Baht and that is it. Food, health- care etc. cost additional money.

d) most apartments are not fitted for dogs or don’t even allow them. So if daddy has to move to another city for work and the new apartment does not allow dogs…what then?

There are only a few animal shelters. The other, which is a far more horrible option (killing Rover!), is not an option, as killing a living creature means bad karma in the Buddhism.

So many people here choose to just set the dogs free and let them take care of themselves. That’s mainly the reason why there are many stray dogs in Bangkok, roaming the streets at night in search for food. Many dogs are in a very poor state of health, undernourished, injured.

During the flood in 2011, things turned from bad to worse for the “soi dogs” since some were trapped in empty houses or just surrounded by water and without food. This was just one very obvious case where the Soi Dog Foundation rushed to the rescue.

Founded in 2003, Soi Dog Foundation is a not-for-profit, legally registered charitable organization in Thailand, the United States, Australia, the UK, France and Holland, aiming to help mistreated and abandoned dogs. The organization is not only about the rescue but also about the prevention and showing ways to humanely reduce the number of unwanted dogs and cats, for example, by sterilization. As of March 2013, they have had as many as 49,000 dogs and cats neutered to prevent overpopulation.

Looks like a happy ending!

There are many ways to help the Soi Dog Foundation.

If you are living in Thailand, you can contact their shelters and take a cat or dog home with you. You can sponsor a dog or a cat that has not been adopted or donate your money or even your time as a volunteer. Just go to www.soidog.org and see what you can do and how you can make a difference.