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Sabrina of Phangan Animal Lovers has helped more than 50 stray dogs and cats leave the island for a new life with owners in different Countries just this year, she also feeds over 30 stray dogs each day! We speak to her about how you can help and be a flight volunteer to accompany these animals when they leave...
Sabrina first came to Koh Phangan in 1994 and fell in love with the nature of the island and the nice parties in Haad Rin when the Full Moon party was still a beautiful celebration.
“I came here until 1998 about for about 4 to 6 months a year and had a nice Party Posse around me. Backyard was my Living Room. I stopped going to the Full Moon Parties in 1996 as it got too commercial for me”.
Sabrina left Phangan for good in 1998 on the 2nd of January but came back in 2005 for holidays and settled with her 2 year old daughter a year later.
Tell us a about what you do on the island?
I started a little Business making Jam. The idea came from a Restaurant we would hang out in in Haad Rin before in 1995, ‘The Old Lamp’ who had their own wholemeal bread and banana jam. Phangan Jam which is supported by Khun Nira and her family (Niras Bakery) was started in 2008 by myself.
Then in 2010 I rescued a Pony from the side of the road as I am a passionate Horse lover and then more Ponies came from all over the island to me as the Thai people here called me the ‘Horse Doctor’ which I wasn’t but I had to learn as there was no vet for Horses available here at all and most of them were sick cases.
Then I started rescuing Dogs from the Road and ended up with 24 dogs at one point at my house. I started to rehome them abroad and got deeply into the export. We sent them with Cargo until I figured out the way to do it with the Flight Volunteers which is way cheaper for me and the adopters.
How did the flight volunteer scheme work?
I have Foster Dogs which People fall in Love with while on holiday here or it can be people who are living here but suddenly have to leave but they wish to take their dog.
I prepare the dogs until they are ready to fly. That counts as well for Cats.
For Europe they need to stay 4 - 5 months here with their vaccinations, blood titer test from Europe and 90 days quarantine. For America and Russia it’s quite easy, the animal can leave 30 days after the Rabies Vaccination.
In the meantime I look for flight Volunteers who can take them with them on the flight as checked in Luggage.
It’s pretty easy to do right….?
Very easy for the Flight Volunteer. We want to keep all work and troubles away from them. I only need a copy of their Passport and flight itinerary. We need at least 10 days before to arrange all the paperwork for the dogs and to book the dog or cat on their flights.
What are the benefits for the dogs and the humans?
The benefit for the animals is that they have the chance to live in a safe place in a forever home and the benefit for the Island is that we have less strays and less need to find new homes for them here.
For the Flight Volunteer the benefit is that they make the pet and adopter very happy and are a part of saving a life. It doesn’t cost them anything extra but we also cant pay them accept I always ask the adopters to bring something nice for the Flight Volunteer on their arrival.
How can people get involved?
People can contact me on my facebook page or join flight volunteer groups in Thailand on facebook.
Can all flights to all Countries do this?
Not all flights allow pets and some have high airfares for the pets. I like to book pets with Aeroflot, Lufthansa, KLM and Austrian Air to Europe. To America there are plenty of airlines with good fares, like Eva Air or China Air.
What is your opinion on the stray dog situation now on Koh Phangan?
It's definitely getting better but there is still a lot to do. I think sterilisation for Thai owned dogs should be for free.
I fight against poisoning and shooting and got myself into trouble with this so I started to do it differently now. I started to collect all the strays from my area and also owned dogs and brought them for sterilisation which I mostly support with the income of my new business of health food products ‘My healthy Me’.
I don’t live off donations. My goal is to get together with Phangan Animal Care, a Thai veterinarian and get as many animals spayed as possible and I try to get as many dogs off this Island and find adopters abroad.
How can people help whilst here on the island?
I would say that long term tourists who fall in love with this island and adopt a dog or cat should make sure that they get their vaccinations and tick/flea treatment to prevent diseases which take expensive treatment and make sure to sterilise males and females.
If visitors decide to take a pet on they have to take the responsibility and take it home with them. Be aware and prepared for that. It’s not a holiday companion which you can just leave behind when you go. It causes lots of trouble for the animal and the environment, starvation, diseases and poisoning.
Short term holiday makers should not take a puppy from the side of the road and take it to their bungalow for a few days.
Leave it where it is and feed it there! Collect some deworming and tick/flea treatment either from the local vets or Pacs. If they want to take it home they can always contact me.
And leave us with your life philosophy…
My life philosophy has changed over the years, I used to help people here on the island and all my life which all changed with my daughter's birth, I was mainly focused on her and nowadays I prefer to help animals in need. Animals are way more grateful and make me happy no matter of all my effort when it drains me physically and financially.
Every time I come home and get such a hearty welcome from my dogs, horses and my cat and all along the roads where I feed the street dogs. I’ve done this for 4 years every single day even though many Thai people are not happy about this, stones get thrown onto my road but I never give up and I fight hard for what I do.
In Thailand things can change from one second to the other and big plans can be destroyed, that’s why it’s always good to have a Plan B in the pocket, no expectations, no disappointment, that’s my Philosophy and that’s why I don’t try to make it right for everyone and just do what I think is best!!!