A Massachusetts dog rescue shelter is finding homes for dogs that were living in Chinese slaughterhouses waiting to be sold for meat.
Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue, based in Hudson, began rescuing dogs from the slaughterhouses and off meat trucks, as well as municipal shelters awaiting euthanasia.
Through multiple transports, the rescue has found homes for about a dozen dogs.
Currently, five golden retrievers are at the Hudson facility, medically cleared and ready for adoption. All of them were rescued from a Beijing slaughterhouse and arrived in Massachusetts last week.
"The dogs basically live in terror in the slaughterhouses, because oftentimes they kill the other dogs right in front of the other dogs living there," said Allyson MacKenna, executive director of Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue. "We look at the dogs, and we know what condition they were in and what they must have gone through, and yet they've totally forgiven people. They love. They just want to be part of a home. It's amazing."
Adoption coordinator Devon Spirka traveled to China with kennel manager Lucille Brooks earlier this year, returning with three rescue dogs, all of which they later placed in homes.
"Most of them have no idea what a toy is until they get here, and they sort of get used to what to do with them," Spirka said. "They just look so different once they get here, and they’re comfortable, and they’re fatter, and they’re just healthier and happier."
The Hudson rescue has traditionally taken in golden retrievers from across New England. In 2015, they began rescuing international dogs, bringing dogs from Turkey.
Recently learning of the plight of many dogs in China, organization officials decided to expand their operations.
It's the friendly personality signature of the golden retriever breed that often works against them in China, where the dog meat industry is profitable, MacKenna said.
"Some of the meat vendors that our contacts in China have spoken with have said that they specifically like goldens if they can get them, because they have such docile temperaments, it makes their job easier," MacKenna said.
The majority of the Chinese people are against the dog meat industry and many illegal slaughterhouses are being shut down by the government, often pressured by rescue groups and dog advocates, MacKenna said. But there are still thousands in danger.
Just getting the dogs to the United States is expensive. Paying for medical bills, boarding for 30 days, health certifications, flights, a crate, food and other necessities costs $1,500 to $2,000, MacKenna said.
Transporting the dogs is the other difficulty. The five currently at the facility were flown in with a volunteer whose sole purpose in visiting in China was to rescue the dogs.
The rescue is not only seeking donations but also volunteers to help transport the dogs, particularly those who travel internationally. Volunteering requires a few more minutes in customs at the airport but no dog handling abilities; the volunteer doesn't ever have to touch the dog, as the Chinese rescue group brings the dog to the gate, MacKenna said.
To donate, volunteer or adopt, visit https://www.ygrr.org/.