Five years ago, the broken heart of one person ignited a series of events that transformed the lives of many dogs. Today, that person is known as the celebrated “dog rescuer.”
Fifteen years ago, Michael J. Baines, a restaurateur from Scotland, decided to relocate to Thailand with his wife as they both fell in love with the country during their trip there. They left behind their previous home in Sweden to start a new restaurant business in Thailand.
During a regular day at work, a skinny and famished stray dog approached a man in need of sustenance. This chance encounter had a profound impact on him, as the dog appeared to be pleading for assistance through her eyes. Upon closer examination, he observed that she was undernourished and had recently given birth to puppies. It was heartbreaking for him to witness her misery, so he started feeding her regularly. This incident prompted him to develop a passion for aiding other dogs in similar circumstances, as he couldn’t bear to witness their anguish.
Baines experienced a moment of realization upon observing the miserable condition of the unattended dogs in his locality. He felt compelled to take action and decided to feed these strays on a regular basis with unwavering dedication. His endeavors included halting at 17 different spots along three separate routes to ensure that each dog received adequate sustenance. Baines made eight stops while en route to his workplace and provided meals to 30 dogs. Following breakfast, he geared up for his second round by procuring food and making eight or nine additional stops to feed another 30-35 dogs. Six more dogs were fed outside his eatery, and four to five dogs were given food during his commute back home from work. Baines’ unwavering resolve to care for these animals has had a significant impact on their lives.
The cuddly dogs are provided with a blend of dry kibble, boiled rice, and vegetable oil mixed with bouillon. Their palates are pleased with a delightful mixture of chicken, pork, and fish that are all boiled together. To ensure these adorable canines remain healthy, Baines provides them with a monthly dose of worm and flea prevention powder. All the expenditures for their well-being are either covered by Baines himself or generous contributions. In 2003, Baines and his partner, Gill Dalley, founded The Soi Dog Foundation, which is a not-for-profit organization committed to offering a secure habitat for stray dogs.
Their goal is to improve the welfare of dogs and cats in Asia, which will bring benefits to both animals and humans. They are working towards creating a world without pets and ultimately ending animal cruelty.
At the moment, Soi Dog Foundation has two hospitals, one for cats and another for dogs. The dog hospital is the most extensive and state-of-the-art in Asia and perhaps worldwide. It’s dedicated to serving the medical needs of stray dogs only. Gill, who was passionate about her furry friends, spent four years designing and overseeing the construction of the dog hospital before she passed away. It was her commitment to fulfilling the promise she made years ago to provide top-notch care to her beloved street dogs.
Baines remains committed to his promise of helping the stray cats and dogs through his work with the Soi Dog Foundation. His contributions towards animal welfare in Southeast Asia were rewarded when he received an MBE during Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday honors ceremony in 2020.