A Florida animal shelter says it has helped rescue 20 golden retrievers from winding up on a meat market menu in China in a monthslong rescue operation involving volunteers on two continents.
“I had a dream, and on Sunday it became a reality,” Kristine Minerva, who organized the project, told Fox News in an email Tuesday. “One woman put this together and spearheaded this mission and she rocked it!”
The dogs were at risk of being slaughtered for food, according to Minerva. Despite the coronavirus pandemic, which hamstrung normal fundraising efforts, she helped raise $60,000 for the rescue mission. She said she couldn’t have done the rescue without help from more than a dozen supportive small businesses, the families who adopted the dogs and other supporters, including Taiwan’s SPCA.
Minerva arranged for the dogs to leave mainland China on Wednesday, stop for an 11-hour layover in Tawain, refuel in Anchorage, Alaska, and finally land in Miami on Friday afternoon, according to Golden Rescue South Florida (GRSF).
But due to a mechanical problem and another delay, the dogs languished in Taiwan for 40 hours before they finally took off.
“No one in the Rescue slept Friday night or Saturday night,” GRSF wrote on its website. “But, NOW THE GOOD NEWS! They arrived Sunday morning.”
Another 20 volunteers met the dogs at the airport when they arrived Sunday morning, according to Golden Rescue. Once they cleared customs, they were found “in remarkable shape” despite a harrowing journey that included five days being stuck in their cages. The volunteers set to work cleaning them up — the dogs had not been given walks or let out during the entire five-day stretch.
Finally, the group met their new adoptive families in time for the holidays, the rescue group said.
The rescued retrievers include Menu Meng, who only has three legs and will now go by Tipsy.
“This is the happiest day in 2020 for me,” Katie Brown, one of the adopters, told WSVN. “The fact that we’ve been waiting so long for these dogs to arrive, it’s been such a long journey, and to have her here, it means everything. It truly is making our year.”
“Thank God we got her,” Patrick McGrath, who adopted another one of the dogs, told NBC 2 of his rescued golden retriever. “She will have a life.”
Minerva works two jobs as a teacher and as a server at Outback in addition to volunteering with the rescue and handling the logistics of transporting the dogs to American soil, the group said. The process took six months and the most difficult part of the project was getting the dogs cleared to fly to the U.S. from Taiwan.
GRSF says it limits its adoptions to the East Coast of Florida and performs home visits and follow-up inspections on all adopters.