Five years back, a man’s broken heart led to a remarkable transformation in the lives of stray dogs wandering around Thailand’s roads. He is now widely recognized as the “hero for dogs” due to his unrelenting determination to save these furry creatures.
After exploring Thailand alongside his spouse, Scottish eatery owner Michael J. Baines opted to establish himself there and begin a restaurant venture 15 years ago. While he was working one day, he stumbled upon a stray dog who was starving and in dire need of sustenance. This occurrence transformed his life the moment the dog gazed at him and seemingly communicated, “Please assist me! I’m wounded and famished.” Baines was emotionally affected by the dog’s predicament and this experience left an indelible impression on him.
One day, he stumbled upon a skinny mama dog who had just given birth to some cute little puppies. Seeing her unhealthy condition struck a chord in his heart, and he couldn’t stand by without taking action. Thus, he began feeding the hungry canine every day with great compassion. This kind gesture ignited his passion for animals, which flourished from then on. The heartwrenching sight of dogs in agony or distress became unbearable for him, so he made it his mission to aid them whenever possible.
Baines experienced a sudden realization one day that he wanted to assist the destitute stray dogs in his locality. From that point forward, he has dedicated himself to feeding these dogs once each day, charting out three different routes with a total of 17 stops. During his everyday commute from his residence to work, he halts at eight locations, offering food to about 30 dogs. After having breakfast at his restaurant, Baines prepares additional food and embarks on his second round, stopping at eight or nine spots to nourish approximately 30 to 35 famished canines. Additionally, he feeds six more dogs outside his eatery and another four to five dogs on his way back home after a taxing day at work.
Baines provides his beloved pets with a balanced diet consisting of dry food, boiled rice, vegetable oil, and bouillon. For added taste, he adds a mixture of boiled chicken, pork, and fish. As a precautionary measure, he includes a preventative powder every month to ward off parasites like worms, ticks, and fleas. He funds this on his own or through kind contributions.
In 2003, Baines and his partner Gill Dalley established The Soi Dog Foundation. This charitable organization provides shelter for stray dogs, with a focus on promoting the welfare of cats and dogs in Asia. The foundation’s main goal is to improve the quality of life for both animals and humans. They aspire to ensure that there are no more homeless animals and to completely eradicate animal cruelty.
At the moment, the Soi Dog Foundation has an exceptional facility for feline friends and a state-of-the-art medical center for canines. This makes it the most comprehensive hospital not only in Asia but possibly across the globe. The hospital’s sole mission is to provide top-notch medical care for stray dogs. For four years, Gill tirelessly worked on building and overseeing the dog hospital before her passing. Her commitment to giving her beloved street dogs the best medical attention possible was fulfilled through this spectacular hospital.
Regrettably, Gill passed away due to cancer in the beginning of 2017, leaving a huge void behind. In spite of this, Baines has remained devoted to the Soi Dog Foundation and the stray felines and canines. His unwavering commitment has been recognized and appreciated, as he was recently honored with an MBE during Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday celebrations in 2020 for his outstanding contributions towards animal welfare in Southeast Asia.