Abandoned Golden Retrievers in Turkey Are Finding Homes in U.S.

Abandoned Golden Retrievers in Turkey Are Finding Homes in U.S.

An Atlanta rescue group for pure-bred Golden Retrievers has saved more 50 dogs abandoned in shelters or on the streets of Istanbul in what’s considered the largest international rescue of the breed.

Golden Retrievers are one of the most beloved dog breeds in the United States, but their popularity in Turkey reached the level of status symbol a few years ago. Goldens became the dog that everyone had to have, says Lauren Genkinger, the founder of Golden Retriever rescue organization, Adopt a Golden Atlanta (AGA).

But the Golden’s appeal tarnished as more and more people acquired the sought-after breed. Soon, Goldens began turning up in shelters and living on the streets of cities such as Istanbul, she says.

Life is tough for an abandoned Golden in Turkey. The open-air shelters are overcrowded and Goldens living on the streets or in the woods are often attacked by feral dogs. “You don’t find senior Goldens in Istanbul. They don’t live that long,” Genkinger says. The gentle breed simply isn’t equipped to survive under harsh conditions, she explains.

Flight Plans

When Genkinger heard about the Goldens’ plight she decided AGA had to help. The organization’s motto is: “We never say no to a Golden Retriever in need.” 

So AGA arranged for a flight to bring 36 Goldens living in Istanbul shelters back to the U.S on May 9. AGA volunteers worked with contacts in Turkey to collect the dogs and accompany them back to Atlanta. The journey was a lengthy one—a three-hour flight to Luxembourg, a 12-hour layover, and then a nine-hour flight to Atlanta—but the dogs handled it well, says Genkinger.

Back at the AGA facility, volunteers tried to make the dogs’ transition as easy as possible. AGA brought in people who speak Turkish to talk to the dogs initially before getting them accustomed to English, says Genkinger. All of the Goldens were in relatively good health after living in shelters for several years. They also soon realized the “Turkey dogs” are just like their U.S. counterparts—sweet, playful and friendly. As a result, AGA has eased the strict adoption requirements it put in place for the Goldens, says Genkinger. 

A second flight followed on June 15 to bring back another 15 Goldens that had been living on Istanbul’s streets. Most of the total 51 rescued Goldens are now in loving homes, Genkinger says, adding, “We’ve had a fantastic response.” 

Waiting List 

AGA emphasizes that the Turkey dogs are not being adopted in place of any Goldens already in the organization’s care. Genkinger explains that AGA has 150 people on its adoption waiting list and that most pure-bred Golden rescues around the country have waiting lists, as well. In fact, Genkinger says she hopes to get other rescues involved in the project. 

Genkinger hasn’t scheduled the next flight yet, but expects to travel regularly to Turkey to bring 12 dogs at a time back. “Thirty-six dogs was an awful lot,” she notes. But the trips can continue only as long as AGA has the money to pay for them. The organization has set up a Go Fund Me campaign to raise money to rescue and care for the Turkey dogs.

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Photo via Adopt a Golden Atlanta