Soi Dog Foundation Rescues Cinderella & Leanne from Thailand Dog Meat Trade

Life With Dogs is reader-supported. We may earn a small commission through products purchased using links on this page.
Leanne (left) and Cinderella have just arrived at Helen Woodward Animal Center after being rescued from the Thailand dog meat trade by the Soi Dog Foundation (All photos/videos: Helen Woodward Animal Center.


Helen Woodward Animal Center has just put out a wonderful press release about orphan dogs Cinderella and Leanne.  They have just arrived at the center from Buriram, Thailand, where they were rescued by the Soi Dog Foundation, they are now awaiting the opportunity to have forever homes.

The following press release, which includes information for anyone interested in fostering these newly arrived canines, provides some amazing details about the rescue.

Helen Woodward Animal Center has been saving the lives of animals-in-need from Southern California and beyond for more than 40 years, but the “beyond” of the latest arrivals is further than ever before.  On Sunday, October 2nd, two female adult dogs named Leanne and Cinderella made the long journey from Thailand to Helen Woodward Animal Center in search of their forever homes.  Rescued from the dog meat trade by Soi Dog Foundation (a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping the homeless, neglected and abused dogs and cats of Asia), and with the assistance of Helen Woodward Animal Center staff, trainers and fosters, Leanne and Cinderella have a new journey ahead of them – one that will find them the loving adoptive families they so deserve.


Soi Dog Foundation, established in 2003 in Phuket, Thailand, expanded its focus from stray animals to meat trade dogs in 2011 with its “Trade of Shame” campaign.  The campaign’s intent was to end the illegal export of an estimated 500,000 Thai dogs per year to Vietnam for use as dog meat. The foundation employed undercover agents to hunt down smugglers and butchers and tanneries within Thailand, worked with the governments of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam to enforce existing legislation, campaigned for stronger animal welfare laws in the region, and is now expanding efforts to Vietnam itself where an estimated 5 million dogs per year (mostly stolen pets) continue to be consumed.  Through the foundation’s efforts, thousands of dogs have been rescued and dozens of arrests have been made.  However, with no government budget to care for the rescued dogs, many of the canines were dying of disease in overcrowded livestock shelters.  Soi Dog supporters rallied and by 2015 a huge complex of shelters was built on government owned land in Buriram to keep the dogs healthy while efforts were made to find homes for them.


“Helen Woodward Animal Center was contacted and explicitly asked to assist these dogs,” stated Helen Woodward Animal Center President and CEO Mike Arms.  “We are concerned with the welfare of animals not just here but all over the world.  We are honored to assist Soi Dog Foundation which has played such a major part in illegalizing the abduction and trafficking of dogs for consumption in Thailand.  The 750 dogs in the Buriram shelters represent the last of the dog meat trade in the area. But while these dogs are in limbo, without homes or families, there’s still work to do.  By helping find forever families for Cinderella and Leanne, we are doing our small part in ending the dog meat trade.”


Cinderella and Leanne still have quite a journey ahead of them.  They each require a very special long-term foster to help with their socialization and to provide a safe place for recovery as they receive medical care.  Leanne, a female 6-year old “Thai cross breed,” and Cinderella, a female 9-year old “Thai cross breed,” have received full medical exams from the veterinary team at Helen Woodward Animal Center and are in the process of testing and treatment for a variety of conditions associated with their former lives.

“Leanne is waiting for knee surgery now,” stated Center veterinarian Dr. Oba. “It’s too soon to tell how much recovery time she will need,” but both dogs are in good hands with us and we will make sure they get everything they need to live happy, healthy lives.”


While on medical recovery, the foster families will be a crucial part of Cinderella and Leanne’s emotional recovery.  Center adoptions staff member Janet Conley was there when the dogs arrived at LAX.   “The flight alone had to be a huge ordeal for these dogs,” stated Conley, “and the original circumstance they both came from was very traumatic.  But animals are amazing.  They have an incredible capacity to forgive and a desire to learn to trust again.  Both of the dogs are very sweet. Cinderella is a bit more friendly and open to human contact but I was actually amazed at how quickly they both seem to be adjusting.  It’s as though they can sense there are good things on the horizon. ”


Helen Woodward Animal Center is hoping to assist even more of these meat trade dogs through the Soi Dog Foundation in two ways. The Center is currently reaching out to the over 4,000 animal welfare organizations who partner on the Home 4 the Holidays campaign in hopes that they may be able to assist a couple of these canines with medical care, fostering and eventual placement in forever homes.


“If a large enough number of the organizations can each take even two,” explained Arms,” we can clear them out of Buriram and officially declare the Thailand dog meat trade nothing but a bad memory.”


Additionally, the Center is actively seeking the help of some outstanding animal-lovers to play an important role in the life-saving rescue of additional Soi Dogs.  The placement of these canines with very specific temporary fosters is crucial to the success of their transfer and ultimate adoption.  Undoubtedly, the former lives of these dogs included little to no kindness and thus, the dogs often lack confidence and trust in humankind.   The Soi Dog Foundation has done an excellent job with the beginning stages of their socialization and exposure to compassionate human beings.  The fosters will need to understand that patience and time are two of the key components to bringing these dogs around to their full potential as trusting family members.

If you would like to be a foster parent to one of the Thailand Soi Dogs, please make sure you meet the following requirements:

  • An experienced dog owner – This foster will have had experience dealing with canine apprehension, and is very comfortable handling a potentially insecure 50 lb adult dog;
  • A very flexible schedule – This foster is either retired or working from home or has the ability to set their schedule to avoid spending long periods (more than 3 hours) away from their foster dog;
  • A mature household – In this foster home, ideally all household members will be 18+, although mature older teens might qualify.  And a stable family situation in which everyone can be on the same page with the foster dog – no roommates – is important.
  • A home with a securely fenced (min 6 ft.) yard – We don’t want to lose anyone!
  • The ability to stick with the foster assignment for at least 8 to 10 weeks – Stability is a key to building confidence and a sense of independence in these dogs.
  • Most importantly, this foster will be amenable to learning how to interact with their foster dog, be able to follow a training regimen set by our trainer, and be willing to devote sufficient time to the project, starting with a home inspection visit and then a pre-foster briefing at the Center. Subsequent as-needed visits to the Center for medical or behavioral support, and perhaps some phone consults or even a visit or two to the foster’s home by our trainer may also be needed.


This foster may have other dogs or cats (some testing will be done to ensure everyone stays safe).  And this foster will need to set structure and discipline and routine to help build confidence.

Image result for helen woodward animal center san diego

Individuals who would like to foster but do not meet all of the above requirements are still asked to apply as kitten or puppy fosters!  Helen Woodward Animal Center is constantly seeking wonderful families who are willing to open up their homes for even a short amount of time to allow mother cats and dogs an opportunity to nurse their young in a safe environment.  All supplies necessary are provided by the Center.  All that is required is a big heart, a little space and some time to care.


For more information on Cinderella and Leanne, please contact Helen Woodward Animal Center at  To inquire about fostering Soi Dogs or others, please contact the Foster Department at: 858-756-4117 ext. 375, email [email protected]  or stop by at 6461 El Apajo Road in Rancho Santa Fe.


About Helen Woodward Animal Center

Helen Woodward Animal Center is a private, non-profit organization where “people help animals and animals help people.” Founded in 1972 in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., the Center provides services for more than 57,000 people and thousands of animals annually through adoptions, educational and therapeutic programs both onsite and throughout the community. Helen Woodward Animal Center is also the creator of the International Home 4 the Holidays pet adoption drive, the International Remember Me Thursday® campaign and The Business of Saving Lives Workshops, teaching the business of saving lives to animal welfare leaders from around the world.  For more information, go to: