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Help a Dog Rescue in Thailand with Points, Miles and More

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For this month’s installment of “Giving Tuesday,” a series designed to highlight travel-themed charities, TPG Contributor Jade Broadus  an avid traveler and owner of two rescue pups herself — shares how you can help an animal rescue in Thailand bring dogs to America to find their forever homes. (All photos by Soi Dog Foundation.)

Many travelers, especially those visiting developing countries, have passed dogs or cats in need and wished there was a way to make their lives better in the long run. Even those of us who haven’t been to a third world country have felt the urge to help after seeing cries for support of animals desperately needing care.

Pea Mai — a Soi Dog — before rehabilitation.
Pea Mai — a Soi Dog — before rehabilitation.

Enter the Soi Dog Foundation. Thai for “street dog,” Soi Dog is an animal rescue born out of the love and support that three strangers were able to give to the helpless, unwanted animals of Thailand.

Pea Mai - The After - A happy, playful pup. Photo by Soi Dog Foundation.
Pea Mai, after rehabilitation: a happy, playful pup.

Founded in 2002 by Margot Park, Soi Dog started as a single sterilization center for stray dogs in Phuket. When retired expats John and Gill Dalley got involved in 2003, they helped expand Margot’s clinics into several centers around the island, and the foundation has continued to grow by word of mouth. Soi Dog now has almost 1 million fans on Facebook, has spayed/neutered over 84,000 dogs and cats and is a registered not-for-profit charitable organization that seeks to rescue and rehabilitate stray dogs as well as end the dog meat trade in Asia.

As John recently told Think Design Magazine, “Gill and I effectively work seven days a week, often 14 hours per day. In reality we now work far harder in retirement for no pay than when we worked for a living!” He went on to say that “seeing a dog or cat with horrific injuries that most people would think should be immediately euthanized, [instead] transformed, and in some cases homed, makes it all worthwhile.”

Soi Dog was brought to The Points Guy’s attention by Janis Rosenthal, a native Oregonian, fellow traveler and animal lover, who caught a glimpse of the gruesome, illegal dog meat trade and couldn’t turn a blind eye.

The Before: illegally traded dogs. Photo by Soi Dog Foundation.
The Before: illegally traded dogs.

Since first researching Soi Dog, Janis has donated to four of their major charitable causes, and despite having never actually visited Soi Dog’s headquarters in Thailand, is one of organization’s most passionate supporters.

The After: Soi Dog has created severe rescues for the dogs to spread out. Photo by Soi Dog Foundation.
The After: Soi Dog has created several rescue pens in which dogs can spread out.

“They are not a super huge organization, so they are responsive and appreciative of every donation,” Janis said. “There is no direct mailing, and all charitable outreach is done through social media.” This strategy keeps costs low and allows donations to be used where they’re needed most.

Soi Dog during rehab. Photo by Soi Dog Foundation.
A Soi Dog during rehab.

Like Janis, you don’t have to visit Thailand to join the efforts led by Soi Dog that have already saved thousands of dogs. Partnering with several airlines and credit card companies, Soi Dog has made it possible to save the lives of animals in need by simply transferring some of your unused points and miles. Your donated credits are then used to fly dogs out of Thailand and to adoption centers and volunteers in America.

Just last week, with the help of some of Janis’ Amex Membership Rewards points, five dogs were safely flown to New York City to find their forever homes.

Soi Dogs on their way to America via Sponsored Points from Janis Rosenthal
Soi Dogs on their way to America last week via Amex points donated by Janis Rosenthal.
The dogs have made it safely to New York — and their new forever homes.
On June 29, 2015, those same five dogs made it safely to New York — and their new forever homes.

Do you love this idea and want to help out? The easiest thing you can do right now is sponsor a dog (or cat) for less than a dollar a day — roughly $26 a month. Or, you can adopt a Soi Dog and have it brought to an international airport or sent to you as cargo so that it can join its forever home with you in the US.

Or if you’re traveling to Thailand, you can become a flight volunteer and travel back to the United States with up to five dogs at one time, as checked baggage.

If you can’t make it to Thailand in the immediate future, however, you can donate some of your frequent flyer miles or points to a flight volunteer; your miles from Star Alliance (Lufthansa, Swiss, United), Qatar and KLM will be accepted, as will American Express Membership Rewards points.

Contact Soi Dog directly and they will guide you through the miles-/points-donation process, step by step. It’s a doggone wonderful — and easy — way to help.

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