Tribute paid to Leeds-born champion of animal welfare

Gill Dalley.
Gill Dalley.
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A Leeds-born animal welfare pioneer who founded a charity for dogs in Thailand has died aged 58.

Gill Dalley helped establish the Soi Dog Foundation in Phuket after retiring with husband John in 2003 to help with a stray cat and dog problem.

They teamed up with Margot Homburg, a retiree who had registered Soi Dog Foundation as a Dutch foundation the year before and had been sterilising dogs in her home city of Bangkok, before moving to Phuket.

Working together as dog catchers and nurses the trio ran mobile clinics, with volunteer vets from overseas, mainly at their own expense.

But while rescuing a dog from a flooded rice paddy she became infected by a rare soil borne bacteria. She developed septicaemia and lost the lower part of her legs but learned how to walk again. A spokesman for the charity said: “Whilst 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.”

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She founded an animal hospital for street dogs in memory of her friend Leone Cosens, who died in the Asian tsunami of 2014.

The spokesman said: “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.”

The charity now employs more than 200 staff, is registered in seven countries.

The spokesman added: “To Gill only the animals mattered.

“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.”

Visit www.soidog.org to donate to the charity in Gill’s memory.

Michael Tennant.

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