A THREE-legged dog which was abandoned by its Phuket owners, is heading to a new life in the US.
The dog, named Christmas, was saved from a life sentence at the Soi Dog Foundation when he was adopted by Wyoming veterinarian, Dr Heather Carleton.
“I met Christmas the very first day I started work as a volunteer at the foundation, and he reminded me of my last dog Baily-Duke, a stray I found at the side of the freeway back home,” said Dr Carleton.
“I knew Christmas would be a ‘lifer’ because he only had three legs and he was covered in fleas and I knew no one would want to adopt him.
“For a dog that’s only a year old, the thought of him living in a concrete kennel for the rest of his life was just heartbreaking.
“I had to have him,” she said.
Last November, Christmas, then aged 8 months was hit by a speeding car, breaking his right hind leg.
Phuket Veterinarian Dr Treetorn from the Thalang veterinary service had no choice but to amputate, and he cut Christmas’ leg off just above the middle joint.
When his owners came to collect him, they were shocked at the sight of his wounds and told Dr Treetorn he was ‘undesirable’ as a pet, and they no longer wanted him.
Christmas spent the next month recovering at Dr Treetorn’s clinic.
With no one to look after him, he was taken to the Soi Dog Foundation’s refuge in Nai Yang, Northern Phuket.
He arrived just before Christmas and staff named him accordingly.
He joined more than 200 other sick and stray dogs, and one three legged cat which was being nursed back to health by the foundation.
A few weeks later, Dr Carleton came to Phuket to volunteer at the Soi Dog Foundation.
Dr Carleton has her own clinic in Jackson, a popular ski resort in North-Western Wyoming.
Wyoming is home to the world’s largest ball of barbed wire and the famed Elk-antler archways, and Christmas will undoubtedly be bemused by the change in his
But the biggest adjustment will be the climate.
Wyoming is covered in snow during the long winter months, with blistering winds and below freezing temperatures.
“I am sure he’ll be able to communicate just fine with American dogs, and seeing snow for the first time,” said Dr Carleton.
Christmas could also end up mixing with the stars in his new home.
Golfer Tiger Woods, actress Sandra Bullock and former Vice President Dick Cheney all spend their holidays in Jackson.
Dr Carleton isn’t the only foreigner to adopt a dog in Phuket and take it home with them.
Many of the foundations neediest dogs have been rehabilitated by the foundation and then adopted by dog lovers from Scandinavia, mainland Europe, and the US.
One dog named Sweedie was adopted last month via the foundations website, and is next week moving to a new home in Sweeden.
The dogs are transported in concordance with EU, and US entry and quarantine requirements.
Dr Carleton said the UK quarantine procedures were the toughest, and dogs going to Britain had to be kept in quarantine for six months before being they were considered eligible for entry into the UK.
She said the US process was more lenient.
A month before leaving for the US, Christmas will have to undergo a rabies test, and he will be vaccinated, micro chipped and scanned by US immigration.
“Once we get to the US, I will have to pay another $275 for Christmas to enter the country,” said Dr Carleton.
“But it’s cheaper to fly with the dog than to send him cargo.
“The airlines only charge ‘an extra bag’ fee for passengers transporting dogs.”
Dr Carleton said when she and Christmas returned to the US, she would amputate what was left of the shortened leg because Christmas was having trouble walking.
“When he tries to move quickly, or take a sharp corner he wipes out,” she said.
“But dogs which have a full amputation tend to have better balance and a full range of motion,” she said.
The extra weight of Christmas’s stump causes him to limp and Dr Carleton is confident a full amputation will give Christmas a better quality of life.
John Dalley, the co-founder of the Soi Dog Foundation said without Dr Carleton, Christmas would probably have spent the rest of his life in the foundation’s animal refuge.
“Not many people will adopt a three legged dog,” he said.
For more information about the Soi Dog Foundation, visit www.soidog.org