Soi Dog Foundation stems distemper outbreak at Phuket Stray Dog Shelter

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A Soi Dog vet vaccinates a dog with a combination vaccine plus a rabies vaccine.

The Soi Dog Foundation conducted an emergency vaccination campaign at the Phuket Stray Dog Shelter in Thalang – also known as the government kennel – to stem an outbreak of the distemper virus.

Transmitted through direct contact and airborne exposure—namely, sneezing, coughing, and sharing food and water bowls—distemper can spread quickly, often with fatal consequences, in a protected environment. There is no definitive cure for the viral disease, and dogs are instead given supportive care and treated for secondary infections.

A total of 248 at-risk dogs were vaccinated against the disease on-site and those already infected were taken to Soi Dog’s shelter in Mai Khao for treatment.

As part of Soi Dog’s long-standing commitment to the hundreds of dogs at the Phuket Stray Dog Shelter, a team of veterinarians, community workers and animal rescue officers visit weekly to ensure all dogs are neutered, vaccinated, dewormed, tick and fleas protected and treated for all other health problems. In the second half of 2021, the on-site team performed over 3,100 treatments and admitted 75 dogs to their hospital for critical care. (The Phuket Stray Dog Shelter was closed to outside help for the first half of the year.)

The shelter’s distemper outbreak is one in a series of recent incidents that have prompted Soi Dog to speak out about the dangers of housing animals uncontrolled. Just a few months ago, the foundation helped contain a similar outbreak on Koh Kood, which started at a government-run shelter and quickly engulfed the island’s stray dog ​​population, killing over 60% of the shelter’s dogs and many others across the island.

Recently, the foundation shut down an illegal animal shelter in Surat Thani and rescued 17 dying dogs that were left in a cramped and dirty space with no food or fresh water available. The dogs were extremely malnourished, infested with ticks and fleas, and suffered from chronic skin infections and other untreated conditions.

“We at the Soi Dog Foundation are opposed to shelters as a strategy for managing the dog population,” said Dr. Alicja Izydorczyk, Soi Dog’s International Director of Animal Welfare. “Not only has it proved completely ineffective as such, but because most of these shelters are underfunded, understaffed and without competent leadership, they are quickly turning into dog death camps.”

The risk of contagious disease is increased when dogs are herded together.