The Soi Dog Foundation organized an emergency vaccination campaign at the Phuket Stray Dog Shelter in Thalang – also known as the government pound – to help stem an outbreak of the distemper virus.
Transmitted by direct contact and through the air – namely sneezing, coughing and sharing bowls of food and water – distemper can spread quickly in a sheltered environment, often with fatal consequences. There is no definitive cure for the viral illness, and dogs instead receive supportive care and are treated for any secondary infections.
A total of 248 at-risk dogs were vaccinated against the disease on site, and those already infected were transferred to the Soi Dog shelter in Mai Khao for treatment.
As part of Soi Dog’s longstanding commitment to the hundreds of dogs at the Phuket Stray Dog Shelter, a team of veterinarians, community outreach staff and animal rescue workers travel weekly to ensure that all dogs are neutered, vaccinated, wormed, protected against ticks and fleas and treated for any other health problems. During the second half of 2021, the team administered over 3,100 on-site treatments and admitted 75 dogs to their hospital for intensive care. (The Phuket Stray Dog Shelter was closed to outside help for the first half of the year.)
The distemper outbreak at the shelter is one of a series of recent incidents that has led Soi Dog to speak out about the dangers of unmanaged animal housing. Just a few months ago, the foundation helped stem a similar outbreak on Koh Kood that originated in a government shelter and quickly swept through the island’s street dog population, killing over 60% of dogs of the refuge and many others across the island.
More recently, the foundation closed an illegal shelter in Surat Thani and rescued 17 dying dogs languishing in a cramped, dirty space with no food or fresh water. The dogs were extremely malnourished, infested with ticks and fleas, and suffered from chronic skin infections as well as other medical conditions that had not been treated.
“We at the Soi Dog Foundation are against housing as a dog population management strategy,” said Soi Dog’s International Animal Welfare Director, Dr. Alicja Izydorczyk. “Not only has it proven to be completely ineffective as such, but since most of these shelters are underfunded, understaffed and lack competent management, they quickly turn into death camps for dogs.”