Today we received the sad news that Gill Dalley, co-founder of Soi Dog Foundation has passed away after a short battle with cancer aged 58.
The news comes shortly after the organisation announced that their work with other organisations led to the news that South Korea is due to vote shortly for harsher penalties for animal cruelty, in the hope of creating a brighter future for the country’s animals.
In a statement released by Soi Dog Foundation, they recapped some of her achievements:
Gill was the inaugural winner of the Canine Hero of the year award at the 2011 Animals for Asia conference in Chengdu China.
She was also the first non-Asian by birth to be named an Asian of the year by Channel News Asia Singapore in their annual awards.
Building Soi Dog Foundation
Gill and her husband, John, moved to Phuket in 2003 from Yorkshire. The couple had witnessed the horrendous stray dog and cat problem while holidaying and wanted to do something. It was then that the couple teamed up with Margot Homburg, a Dutch retiree who had registered Soi Dog Foundation as a Dutch foundation the year before and had been sterilizing dogs in her home city of Bangkok, before moving to Phuket.
Battling Adversities & Tsunamis
Working together as dog catchers and nurses the three of them started to run mobile clinics, utilising volunteer vets from overseas, mainly at their own expense. Barely a year later, Gill who had been weakened by a broken rib, darted a dog which ran into a flooded former rice paddy. In retrieving the dog she unknowingly became infected by a rare soil borne bacteria. She developed septicemia a few days later and was given a 10% chance of survival.
Beating the odds, she did however, lose both her lower legs and suffered damage to her arms. In December 2004, she discharged herself from hospital determined she would be home by Christmas. Three days after discharge the Asian tsunami struck, killing her best friend and volunteer Leone Cosens. Gill, still wheelchair bound, initially counselled survivors and relatives of victims before commencing to work at mobile clinics throughout the area.
She taught herself to walk again, and for the past 12 years refused to ever use her wheelchair, despite her stumps often being covered with blisters and ulcers, and enduring the pain that involved.
Fighting the Dog Meat Trade & Helping Street Dogs
With Margot forced to take early retirement through ill health, she became the driving force in expanding the work of Soi Dog Foundation, including the establishing of its first shelter.
Whilst husband John focused on the illegal Thai dog meat trade, it was Gill who took the lead in expanding Soi Dog’s sterilisation programme, preventing literally millions of unwanted puppies and kittens being born with no future, and at the same time fulfilling Leone’s dream to establish a shelter for dogs that had been victims of cruelty and abuse, and discarded puppies too young to fend for themselves.
Over the past three years, she designed and oversaw the building of the largest hospital entirely dedicated to street dogs in Asia, and a shelter facility that is probably unmatched anywhere in the world. A perfectionist by nature, everything had to be right, even to the type of screws used to attach fittings. Every building at the shelter including the cat hospital was designed by Gill, determined to provide the best possible care for those dogs and cats that had nowhere else to turn.
A diplomat she was not. She had no interest in politics. To Gill, only the animals mattered and anybody who failed to meet her standards was soon gone.
Today Soi Dog Foundation is the largest foundation in Asia working with stray dogs and cats.
Read more about the life of a dog in Thailand, recapping Gill’s work and the work of Soi Dog Foundation here
Currently employing nearly 200 staff, registered in seven countries and aiming to achieve 100,000 sterilisations per year, and end the cruel Asian dog meat industry, it is expanding its operations to other countries in the region as well as throughout Thailand. Without Gill and her determination to carry on and beat the odds, Soi Dog Foundation simply would not exist today, and the stray dogs and cats of the region have lost one of their greatest champions.
Sadly, despite fighting bravely for the past few weeks she faced a battle that even she could not overcome.
She leaves husband John to continue their work and her family of rescued dogs and cats.
Our thoughts go out to John and all at Soi Dog Foundation.