This past summer in Thailand while on Koh Phangan [Island] – I was so excited to venture into the jungle on in search of Phangan Animal Care for Strays (PACS). Having arrived on the island a week earlier, we had found temporary accommodation in the busy area of Haad Rin. Famous for its backpacker lifestyle, beach parties, pool parties and the full moon festival, Haad Rin was a fun, Westernised place. We decided to move a little more north though and settled on Thongsala, Koh Phangan. We booked into the extremely nice, comfortable Blessings Hostel right there in the middle of town; which I cannot recommend enough! From there, PACS is only a 5 minute journey by bike or cab for around 100THB.
Phangan Animal Care for Strays (PACS) was founded in 2001, until then there was no animal or veterinarian help on the island at all – a shock to me as there are just so many dogs on the island. With the arrival of so much tourism in recent years, the dogs have no shortage of food or company and the majority of them are well fed – plump even and they know exactly how to get their meals. You will see many dogs hanging around certain hot spots like 7/11 stores, grocery stores, malls, food markets and temples as they know that between the Thai people and the tourists, they will be fed. Unfortunately one area that is lacking is medical care. The dogs often succumb to a host of skin deceases and rashes, ticks, burns and of course car accidents. This is what Phangan Animal Care for Strays (PACS) deal with the most.
On arriving at the kennels, we were greeted by an all to familiar sound, the chorus barks that lets people know theres people arriving. First there was Boo, who is like 17 years old, he’s old and grey and has four legs but only three feet. He is an old man dog who sits in the porch just outside the offices and can get grumpy when not being included in the conversations in the nearby kitchen! We meet Paris too who I believe was born into a shelter and so lives at PACS full time as a resident, a sweetie pie with an eye for treats and thus – diets!!
We then are brought to the kennels to meet the host of patients. First we met Beatle, she’s a lifer. She was hit by a car at some stage and is paralysed in her back legs, she refuses to use a wheelchair and so just drags her arse around after her – happily! She’s a bit of a madam but I fell in love with her, big time. She just wants a little of the puppy attention you know?! Then there’s Skanky who has a very severe case of a skin condition called Demodex. It’s treatable but incurable. Skanky was treated and returned to his street home but kept retuning to PACS so often that they decided the best thing for him was to live there. Which he does with his mate; ‘Squealer’. This lady has been a resident since 2008 – she was only 4 weeks when she arrived and so has never known life as a street dog. She’s a happy thing with boundless energy!
We met Gor-Goi who was doing a course of Hydrotherapy at the time of our arrival. PAC are working on getting one of her back legs working again after an accident. She shows some promise in that she moves it a little so there is hope that the use of it in the tub will help stimulate the muscles. She is the only dog here who walks around all day long freely in an attempt to get her to use her leg. Everyone else is either tied up or kennelled at one stage or another due to dogs not getting on, behaviour problems etc. But Gor-Goi? – she is probably the most chill dog I have ever met – in my life. A true lady.
We meet the puppy brothers and sisters too which were dumped in box outside the gates of PACS – a normal occurrence here and indeed at every rescue across the world. They are a mixed breed, Thai Ridgeback and are only weeks old. We settle in for a day of playing, bathing and picking ticks off their tiny bodies. They lovvvveeee to hang out with the volunteers and just play then sleep then play again! They will be treated and vaccinated and hopefully adopted – if not, they will have to resume life as Koh Phangan street dogs. PACS will then take them in again at a later date to neuter them also. The hope is that they would be adopted as day by day they are becoming more and more domesticated and used to humans. Life on the streets can be very tough for these little dudes.
Paula of FinsFangsFeathersAndFur Blog
Tick Paralysis is a huge problem out here too, the ticks latch on in their hundreds bringing with them their unique type of disease. The illness is caused by a neurotoxin produced in the tick’s salivary gland. After prolonged attachment, the engorged tick transmits the toxin to its host. Patients can experience severe respiratory distress (similar to anaphylaxis). Day after day, hundreds of ticks have to be pulled off the dog’s skin, ears and toes at PACS. I had done this at home, once or twice (ever!!) but nothing prepared me for the sheer volume of them here. Volunteers have to do alot of this with all the dogs and puppies as well as the joy and fun of bath time where they are treated with special shampoos to treat and sooth their skin.
Saying good-bye to puppy Fallon – the hardest part!
Enjoying a cup of Tetley Tea