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How my volunteering turned into a much bigger project at home

In 2018 I spent a month volunteering at the Soi Dog (dog and cat) Rescue Centre in Phuket. While there I made it my duty to investigate and research the dog meat trade in Asia and I was horrified with what I discovered. An average of 80,000 dogs are killed for human consumption every DAY and many of these dogs are tortured while still alive in the mistaken belief that the adrenaline released by pain and fear somehow enhanced the taste and healing properties of the animal’s meat. Over five millions cats suffer the same fate every year … it is grotesque.

Upon my return to the UK I vowed to do something to help Soi Dog in its fight with the dog meat trade. I considered running marathons, sponsored parachute jumps and the like but I realised that these activities, however noble, were one-offs and that fighting the dog meat trade required something altogether bigger … something very visible.

My concept was to invite dog and cat owners to upload a photo of their pet to a website and these photos would then be used to create the world’s largest Stop Eating Dog advertising banner. This massive banner (the size of a large building) could be used by Soi Dog and other charities fighting the dog meat trade to generate publicity. The sheer size of the banner would make it impossible to ignore. Each photo download would cost just €10 and all the money raised would go to Soi Dog and other similar charities. In addition, the dog and cat owners would receive beautiful ePhotos of their pet in a Stop Eating Dogs frame and an eCertificate. This concept is now up and running and can be viewed at

The advantages to Soi Dog and the like are numerous. First the website helps tell the world about the horrors of the dog (and cat) meat trade. The website is independent of these charities, so is seen as an independent message deliverer … the more people who know, the greater pressure there is on Asia to review its animal rights laws. Of course, every pet registered raises €10 (or UK pounds or US dollars, depending on where you live) and this money is split 70% to Soi Dog and 10% each to three other charities. Stop Eating Dogs takes no fees or commissions, ie every euro raised is passed on. In time, when enough dogs/cats are registered, the advertising banner will be hugely beneficial as they will be unique. What better way of creating press interest than an invitation to the “Launch of the world’s largest Stop Eating Dogs banner”. In addition, pet owners can download material from the website to share on their own social media etc. Another hugely important feature of the Stop Eating Dogs website is its longevity. Unlike sponsored events which come and go, this website can remain live forever and, now that it is set up, it requires a low level of maintenance.

The ultimate irony of this project is that the subject matter is simply unpalatable for many people, ie they don’t want to even know about the dog meat trade as it is so grotesque. However sad it makes us feel, we can understand war, famine and children with cancer, but how do you explain that thousands of dogs and cats are skinned alive every day and then cooked? With this in mind, we are currently “softening” many of the images on our website as the first draft was, perhaps, too upsetting.

It is hoped that the Stop Eating Dogs program will continue to raise much needed funds for Soi Dog and similar charities in the years to come. Please do visit the website and take a look for yourself.

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