June’s Trip From Phuket, Thailand to Los Angeles, California
This is John Dalley, the co-founder of SoiDog Foundation holding June
just before he takes her home that night before her flight.
Here is June with a SoiDog volunteer on her drive to the Phuket airport,
where she will board a plane to Bangkok.
June’s trip started Thursday evening, February 9, in Phuket, Thailand. June arrived in Bangkok Friday afternoon, and she was met by other SoiDog volunteers and her flight volunteers, Tom and Lisa, who were returning to San Diego, after visiting Kate and her husband in Thailand.
They escorted June’s crate from one flight to another and then waited to board the plane.
Here are June’s flight volunteers, Tom and Lisa, on the right and Kate and her husband on the left, who live in Thailand, waiting to board the plane to Taiwan with June’s crate in the foreground.
Goodbye Thailand! Thanks for Everything!
Here I Come California!
June and her companions flew from Bangkok to Taiwan, where they refueled, some passengers got on and some got off. That flight was several hours. The flight from Taiwan to Los Angeles was 12 hours, non-stop over the Pacific Ocean. Due to the time difference, they left Taiwan Saturday at noon and arrived in Los Angeles at Saturday at 2 PM. Weird! No wonder they looked exhausted when I saw them.
I did make sure that I had plenty of time to get to the airport in case I got stuck in traffic. I left my house at 4 AM on Saturday. The flight was due in at 2 PM that afternoon. I got to LA around 11:30 AM. I had time to walk the dogs and get some food. I parked at a fast food place just outside the entrance to the airport, and at noon, I drove into the airport.
In the design of the airport, they do make is very clear between arriving flights and departing flights, so that part was simple. I went toward the arriving flights. Then, this is where the fun begins. The arriving terminal is not divided into domestic and international flights. Instead, all the flights are centered around a horseshoe shape road with a multiple level parking lot in the middle and the terminals on the outside. According to my paperwork from Kate, I was supposed to go to terminal “TB12.” I kept looking for terminal TB12, but couldn’t find it. I drove around and around looking. Then I spotted signs for, “Tom Bradley International Terminal.” I figured I had found the right place. I pulled into the massive parking lot, and I found a parking spot, luckily, very close to the opening of the international terminal. I parked and made my way into the terminal, not having any idea what I would find.
What surprised me was how small it was. I was expecting this massive and endless building that I would get lost in. Actually, there was a single area that was sectioned off with railings in a “U” shape pattern. I walked back and forth to confirm I had the right spot. I asked somebody if this is where international flights come in, and he said, “Yes.” Then I looked up and saw the “Incoming Flights” board, and I found the flight by EVA Air coming in from Taiwan. Yes! I was in the right spot. There was still over an hour for June’s flight to arrive.
International flights were arriving every few minutes, so there was an on-going flow of people coming up the ramp from the planes off-loading to the terminal leading them to the outside and parking lots. I had a lot of fun just watching all the people and their reaction to see their friends and loved ones as they came up the ramp to their apparent long-awaited reunions. The giant “U” was packed with people two to three deep waiting for friends and family to meet them. While waiting for the plane, I did have a nice conversation with a gentleman waiting for his wife to come back from a vacation in the Middle East after visiting relatives.
The other fascinating thing for me was observing all the different styles of uniforms that the flight attendants wore. All the flight attendants in the international flights were female, and the pilots were all male. Some flight attendants wore skirts, some wore pants and all were very professionally dressed in suits and ties, not like the American flight attendants who tend to wear polo shirts and khakis.
The most fascinating flight attendant apparel was the outfits on the woman coming from Dubai Air. Though they were in tan plants and blazers, the woman wore bright red veils attached to tan berets on both sides of their faces that rested under their chins and then lightly wrapped around their necks. It was stunning!
Finally, I recognized Lisa and Tom coming up the ramp rolling a dog crate on a luggage container. I practically screamed! I ran over to the exit of the giant “U” for them to exit the terminal. There was June looking just like the photo on Facebook. I gave them big hugs, which was slightly bizarre since they were total strangers, but I had so much to thank them for, that was the least I could do.
We wheeled the luggage cart with the crate out to my parked car. I took June out of the crate and immediately put on her slip collar with ID tag that I had made just for this occasion. I have heard of too many stories of dog becoming freaked out at airports and taking off, so I came prepared.
I gave her a small lamb treat, and then we walked her out to a small green area, and eventually she did pee. June was very calm and very friendly.
I knew that Lisa and Tom were eager to get back on the road for their long drive home to San Diego, so, after helping me load June in her crate into my van, I thanked them again and gave them hugs again and let them be on their way. I also wanted to get out of the parking lot since I was being timed and charged for each minute.
I had planned the trip to LA to match up with another dog event nearby, south of LA, so I got back onto the highway and headed south to San Marcos, where I stayed in a Motel 6 with all four dogs.
Here is a photo of me and June in the motel taken by the camera on my laptop.
Early the next morning, we attended a UKC weight pulling contest, where eventually Dino did finally earn his third and final leg for his title. And, Rusty earned two weight pulling legs. We were finished finished by 10 AM, so I made the entire drive home back to the Bay Area that day. It was a long two days, but worth every minute!
Each country has their own unique rules and regulations for allowing an animal to come into the country. Some countries require quarantines, some need blood tests and others, like the US and Canada, don’t require either. These two countries do require a current rabies vaccination within one month of the flight.
Here is a breakdown of each of the requirements per the SoiDog website:
These are the requirements for the United States and Canada:
No blood test required.
Transport as "cargo" (non accompanied). Cost: $800 to $1300. With many airlines if the animal is taken as "accompanied baggage" the cost is considerably less. This does depend on the airline. A number of "flight volunteers" have helped by taking animals as accompanied baggage.
Flight Cage: Between $80 and $160 (provided by our supplier wholesale)
No quarantine period.
Once I knew that June was able to come out of the shelter and was available for adoption, I contacted a friend who I remembered had adopted a dog about a year ago from Thailand. I sent her an email, but apparently the email I had was an old one, and she did not respond for over a week. Once we made contact, I showed her the photo of June and told her I was interested in adopting her. I asked her if her friend, who helped with the adoption of her dog from Thailand, was still in Thailand. She said, “Yes!” She gave me Kate’s email and I contacted Kate directly.
Soidog Foundation did not charge me any type of adoption fee and I was not charged for all the transportation of June from the NP shelter, to Bangkok and then down to their shelter in Phuket. I also was not charged for her spay surgery and I was not charged for all the health checks and vaccinations she received while in their care. I did add a donation in the money I sent to them along with the money for the transport and flight kennel.
June with Reggie, the SoiDog shelter Manager
Kate said she was very happy to help with the adoption of June. Kate is very active in the rescue and adoption of dogs in Northern Thailand and she was very familiar with SoiDog. I gave her the email addresses of both John Dalley and Cindy at Soidog, the two people who were helping me coordinate June’s adoption.
Another stroke of luck came my way. Kate said that she was having some friends from Southern California visit her at the beginning of February, and she said she would contact them to see if they would be willing to have June accompany them as their baggage on the flight home. The email I got back was that they were happy to! Whew! That saved me several hundred dollars since the cost of accompanied back was much less than her traveling alone, plus she would have somebody taking her from step to step.
The plans were for me to meet them in Los Angeles on February 12 when they would be returning from Thailand. All plans were made, passports were checked, tickets were purchased and everything was confirmed.
I expressed my discomfort in dealing with LAX, since I had never been to that airport, but only heard horror stories about it, and I have very little experience in dealing with any type of major airport. It is not my preferred type of travel. This was the response I got from Kate, a very seasoned international traveler:
“LAX will be okay......it is really only terrible when your have a departure flight, but I think it should be very straight forward when you are meeting June and her traveling companions.”
(These three articles were originally printed in the Summer edition of, "Mixed Reviews," the
newsletter for the Mixed Breed Dog Clubs of America.)
From the Dog Meat Trade to Adopted!
I first saw June posted on the Facebook page of a private rescue group and shelter called SoiDog Foundation. This was mid January 2012.
I found out about SoiDog Foundation when I looked into the groups who were helping all the animals in Bangkok, Thailand, during all the flooding that was occurring there in the Fall of 2011. I sent them a donation for all the incredible work they were doing to help save the thousands of dogs and cats in peril. In return, I got onto their newsletter and onto their Facebook page.
I was unaware that there was such a thing as a “dog meat trade” in SouthEast Asia and China. I knew that dog meat was a delicacy in those countries, but I was completely unaware how those dogs were obtained. I thought the dogs were bred specifically for the trade. Through SoiDog I discovered the massive black market that exists throughout the countries of Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and China, that includes smuggling and horrible conditions before the dogs are inhumanely slaughtered.
In the middle of January, I saw photos posted on the SoiDog Facebook page that shook me to the core. There were photos of hundreds of dogs crammed into tiny metal cages and the dogs were distorted inside the cages as they attempted to survive. Many times, there were five to 10 dogs stuffed into a single cage. These cages were stacked about ten high and five wide onto numerous flatbed trucks. The trucks were lined up along the Mekong river on the NorthEast Thailand/Laos border, as the cages were to be loaded onto barges and shipped to Vietnam and other neighboring countries. In order to get the cages down the hill to the barges waiting below, the cages are pushed off the trucks and rolled down a tall, sandy hill to the river below. Many dogs received horrible injuries just from these roles down the hills.
June was on one of these trucks and was bound for a dinner plate in Vietnam or Laos or Cambodia, all the countries that border Thailand. Luckily, the Thai government was tipped off about this smuggling ring and the trucks were confiscated as the drivers fled into the nearby jungles. All the trucks and cages were transported back to a government shelter in nearby Nakhon Phanom, the name of the same province.
One of the volunteers of SoiDog Foundation, who goes by the Facebook name of “Bitter Brownie,” went up to this shelter, from her home in Bangkok, a drive of several hours, and photographed all the dogs who had come in. Part of her hope was that people who had their pets stolen would come to the shelter to reclaim their dogs. She was also hoping that people would be willing to adopt some of these dogs. Upon her return home, she posted all the photos of the dogs on the SoiDog Facebook, and this is when I saw June for the first time.
For me it was about 11 PM and I was just about to go to sleep when I decided to check in on the SoiDog Facebook page. This is when I saw the horror of all the dogs stuffed into the small cages piled onto the flatbed trucks and the fate that they almost went into. I was looking through all the photos, and so many of the dogs were just cowering in the corners of the shelter. Thai shelters don’t have separate individual runs. Instead they have massive, open complexes where all the dogs run loose, males and females combined, breeding and fighting. There is limited covered areas from the unending heat with long troughs of food bins. This particular shelter had sand in a large section of their runs.
Then I saw June’s photos. Here was a dog who had already been to hell and back and in one of the most scariest situations known to man, and in her photos she was up and happy in front of the camera. Her ears were up, her tongue was hanging out and she happy and alert. She was covered in sand, her coat was filthy and she had patches of missing hair, but she smiled big for the camera.
This is June at the Nakhon Phanom government shelter in Northeast Thailand, near
the Lao border and the Mekong River. Notice the large patches of hair missing from her chest.
I immediately posted a comment on the Facebook page about this dog in the photo and asked what the procedure was for adoption. I knew it was a super longshot, but I had to know about this dog. By the time the photos were taken and Bitter Brownie drove back home, posted them on Facebook and I saw them, one week had already gone by. Next morning, I got a response to contact Cindy at SoiDog for all adoptions. I believe there is a 12 hour difference between Thailand and California, so any responses can have a big delay.
I contacted Cindy, but I didn’t know how to indicate to her the dog I was interested in. I tried to tell her the line of the Facebook page, but she didn’t understand. At this point, I learned how to download a photo from Facebook. I downloaded all of June’s photos and emailed them to Cindy.
I didn’t expect to hear positive news, but I waited. I had heard from other comments on Facebook that so many dogs don’t survive in those shelters because distemper is so common. It had already been a week.
This was the next email I received, two days later:
“Hi again Jackie
I have found this dog. She is apparently friendly, healthy & female.
Lomis, CA - September 15, 2012: As part of the Terrier Fun Day, these races were set up. The first part is June practicing for her first time. The second part is the competition where she is running for two minutes, and the winner is the dog who covers the most ground in the two minute timeframe. June got Third out of the showing females.