Rescue, rehabilitation, re-homing and education
Sometimes, trips don't always go to plan. A classic example of this is when Kim got caught up in the EVA air strike, and with no end in sight had to simply wait it out in Bangkok while the other EVA customers flew home on alternative flights. Unfortunately, EVA couldn't get the dogs rebooked for quite some time...
Where to even begin?! What a mess!
At the end of June, five days prior to flying five dogs to their new life in Canada, EVA Air announced a strike and total grounding of all flights around the world. Not only was this totally devastating, but the fact that all EVA phone lines around the world (I even called NEW ZEALAND trying to get help!) were disconnected, no emails were getting answered, and airport staff were overwhelmed with rebooking, all turned into a horribly stressful time for us all.
The BTS Skytrain in Bangkok became my best friend. Crappy airport coffee became my lifeblood. Hours and hours spent at Suvarnabhumi International Airport became the total norm. I'd set out in the morning, bopping around from check-in desk to check-in desk pleading with the managers of different airlines to help me come up with a solution to get myself and these dogs home. One flat out told me, "this is not our problem" and told me to leave. I was giving up hope, as each time I went to the EVA counter, their only solution was to take a photo of my booking and text it with their personal cell phone, as not even they could get through to anyone. "Wait for an email," I was told. That email never came.
Finally, I had the idea to go to the EVA Air office in Downtown Bangkok. After waiting there for several hours, they told me that the soonest they could fly us out was July 27 – MORE THAN A MONTH from our originally-scheduled flight. Not only would my visa expire by then, but I would lose my job and not be able to pay the rent on my apartment. It was absolutely ridiculous.
After days, and days, AND DAYS of hearing nothing but busy signals, I finally got in touch with the Toronto office of EVA Air. After explaining the situation, she informed me that the reason I couldn't just be rebooked onto another flight was because EVA is the sole airline flying from Bangkok to Toronto to be able to accommodate five animals on board. Mine was the only ticket out of more than 130,000 people affected who could not be rebooked. We were truly stranded.
Another day spent on the phone came up with the solution to transfer the ticket to Philippine Air, and hope was restored! – for but a moment. After speaking with them, they told me that they aren't capable of flying animals on the route I was rebooked on. Back to square zero. Stranded again.
Stress was truly making me reach my limit when I noticed that Qatar Airways flew to Montreal. It wasn't Toronto, where we were supposed to fly to, but they had the ability to fit five animals on the route and were willing to take us on.
After a hefty phone bill, what seemed like a million miles back and forth on the Skytrain, and spending day after day at every airline who flew from Bangkok to Toronto – WE WERE FINALLY CONFIRMED TO GO TO CANADA!
Unfortunately, due to the new booking having to be rerouted, three of the dogs were forced to stay behind in Thailand. Though Montreal is a relatively short distance (compared to what they had just spent in the cargo hold!) from Toronto, their importer felt it better to delay their trip. But two dogs were set and ready, and excited to be leaving!
Maddie (now Mabel) and Koha finally arrived at Suvarnabhumi after waiting a lifetime to go home. Each were equally as nervous, but the next time they stepped out from their cage, they'd be loved forever.
Koha was lucky to be adopted by a woman based right in Montreal, and Mabel's new family, who were from Toronto, drove all the way to pick her up – and lucky for me, were happy to drive me back with them! These dogs truly couldn't have been adopted by nicer people.
Sadly for me though, that extra week cost me dearly! My car had to be towed due to overstay policy, I had to give up one of my freelance contracts, and my phone bill from trying to remedy the situation came out to be hundreds of dollars. But the dogs are happy and spoiled and forever loved, and that's what counts!
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