By Laurie Balbo
Feral dogs are commonplace in Istanbul, but a sharp-eyed American noticed a particular surge in the number of pedigreed golden retrievers on the streets. She observed that the breed was increasingly popping up in shelters too. Thanks to her networking with a US-based rescue center, three dozen of the dogs have now been saved and are now living in an animal shelter in an Atlanta, Georgia suburb. It’s the largest-ever retriever rescue.
The blonde-coated dogs were once trendy in Turkey, but as the breed became more prolific, their popularity waned. Unwanted pets are discarded and left to fend for themselves on city streets. Despite being large and intelligent, their gentle disposition was no match for established packs of vicious feral dogs. The water-loving breed are easily trainable; most often used as “gun dogs” to retrieve hunted game, but in modern times trained as guide dogs for the blind and deaf, and in search and rescue operations.
With support from animal rescue group Adopt a Golden Atlanta, thirty-six of the abandoned dogs were rounded up and flown to the US where they’re now housed at the Pet Lodge Pet Resort in Alpharetta, an Atlanta suburb.
They’ve been bathed, fed and medically assessed. Volunteers say the animals seem happy with all the attention — wagging tails can be seen everywhere – but the dogs do not yet understand English commands. The pack ranges in age from 6 months to 10 years, all of whom will be available for adoption.
A feel-good story to be sure, from a slice of the planet with a dearth of positive news coverage.
But how do you feel about such significant resources being spent on this project – money and services needed to fly 36 dogs 11 hours to a foreign shelter and hiring interpreters to help train them with English commands?
Might it not have a bigger impact to find Turkish homes for the pups, and use the travel budget to educate Turkish pet-owners to more responsible behavior, or neuter strays as Abu Dhabi does?
Or maybe should we just appreciate the goodness of this action, and let sleeping dogs lie. Video.