This guest blog is by Ava Apollo. When she’s not writing for MSW, she’s blogging about adventure travel at bemytravelmuse.com.
While studying abroad in Taiwan, I couldn’t help but notice how much the Taiwanese love their dogs. On any given day, I could see a happy, well-taken-care-of dog walking around Taipei city with his owner, taking in the sights just as I was.
Alas, I also became aware of another sad but true circumstance: for every happy dog I saw, there seemed to be an equally large number of stray dogs, usually larger breeds, running around in the outskirts of Taipei.
Given how cramped space can be in Taiwan, larger breeds are at the highest risk of abandonment. Sadly, most of these dogs are either euthanized or are turned out onto the streets.
Luckily, there are programs, like The Golden Retriever Club of Greater Los Angeles Rescue’s Project Taiwan – Bring Them Home, which goes to great lengths to help one large breed in particular – Golden Retrievers – find new homes. The following is an interview detailing the organization’s efforts:
MSW: How did you go about starting the rescue efforts in Taiwan? More specifically, how did you find people on opposite sides of the world to unite for this cause?
GRCGLA Rescue: We were contacted via email by Rita and MJ, two young rescuers based in Taiwan who go to great lengths to rescue stray dogs. They reached out to us in 2008 hoping that we would be able to accept a few Golden Retrievers they had rescued that needed homes.
After a few email exchanges, including videos clips of the dogs in need, a relationship developed. After further research and reference checks, The Golden Retriever Club of Greater Los Angeles Rescue’s Board of Directors agreed to assist Rita and MJ’s efforts by finding these long-distance Goldens homes in the U.S.
MSW: That’s quite a remarkable story. So, what is the process of nursing the dogs to health, and then flying them to the U.S.?
GRCGLA Rescue: First, the dogs need to be in the right condition to travel. The flight From Taipei to Los Angeles is 16 hours. That’s 16 hours without potty breaks and food! Therefore, the dogs that need to be rehabilitated are taken care of in Taiwan by vets and volunteers. Then, we need to find a traveler who is flying from TPE to LAX and is willing to claim the dogs as cargo. Rescue volunteers are waiting in Los Angeles when Goldens land to pick them up at customs, let them stretch their legs, and then bring them to assessment and then foster homes. In fact, we just had another group of them land on December 4th!
*As per Project Taiwan – Bring Them Home’s website, they’ve already helped rescue 66 Golden Retrievers.
MSW: Are these dogs able to assimilate into life in the states and lead happy lives with their new owners?
GRCGLA Rescue: Unfortunately, a commonly held belief is that abandoned dogs are damaged goods.
But just because a dog has been abandoned doesn’t mean that it’s because he was a bad dog or wasn’t obedient. Goldens are a very loving and loyal breed; they make great pets, but as they grow older, they take more space and need more exercise.
For various circumstances, owners both in Taiwan, and the US for that matter, sometimes abandon perfectly wonderful dogs.
Senior dogs, in particular, make great pets as 9 out of 10 of them are housebroken, obedient, and simply want a loving home.
MSW: How can readers, especially those who don’t have the ability to adopt a dog, help the organization continue to do such important and noble volunteer work?
GRCGLA Rescue: In the Los Angeles area, we could use foster homes, dog walkers, and even help picking the dogs up at the airport. Our biggest need, however, is donations as each dog costs about $900 to nurse to health and bring home.
Thanks to The Golden Retriever Club of Greater Los Angeles Rescue for their time and interest in sharing the story of this amazing organization. If you want to see regular updates, you can follow them on Twitter or Like them on Facebook.