NEW YORK — Forty-four good boys and girls arrived at Kennedy Airport on Thursday on the last leg of a rescue journey from China.
After a grueling 19-hour flight with a refueling stop in Anchorage, Alaska, the pups were cleared by a vet and the U.S. Department of Agriculture on what was National Puppy Day, a day to raise awareness about pet adoptions and the plight of puppies.
The Malamutes, Labradors and Pomeranians were taken out of their crates to eat, go outside and even listen to music scientifically engineered to appeal to dogs.
“I started playing all the music as everyone got settled in and there was a good amount of silence once it started.” said Kiera Mejia of The Ark, the Animal Reception Center at JFK.
Then, one by one, the dogs emerged to be greeted, in some cases by their new owners.
“We’ve been waiting a long time,” said Mark Goldstein, 59, who drove from Brambleton, Va., that morning to take home Blossom the miniature poodle.
“She was in a bus or a truck on the way to the slaughterhouse,” said Goldstein, who works in healthcare. “She is going to be the most loved and spoiled little dog.”
The adoptions came courtesy of No Dogs Left Behind, an animal rights group that rescues dogs from slaughterhouses, dog traffickers and dog meat trucks in East Asia. Founder Jeffrey Beri, a New York native, has gone all over the world with his crew of volunteers, pulling pooches out of danger in places like China.
Beri says the dogs are bred for food, but sometimes stolen from their owners, with their leashes cut in backyards.
“Today is a very emotional day,” he said. “These are covert missions that are taking place. We are getting closer every day to ending the dog meat trade. We have activists and volunteers from all over. We have an underground army.”
They also have the cutest pups this side of the Westminster Dog Show. Just ask Amy Carrico, 48, of Syracuse, who was waiting for Rudy, a 2-year-old poodle.
Carrico already has three other poodles from China that were rescued by Beri’s group.
“They need it and we can, so we do,” Carrico said, explaining her motivation to help. “I work three days a week. My husband works from home. So he will get lots of attention.”
Thirteen of the tail waggers caught connecting flights to Los Angeles, Miami, Utah and Texas, and a few without foster or permanent homes were headed to a sanctuary No Dogs Left Behind recently opened in Canton, N.Y.
The lucky dogs were targeted for rescue by Beri and No Dogs Left Behind, with the adoptees signing up to take them home over the summer. The organization has also done rescue work in Ukraine since it came under invasion.
“I really wanted to foster and I applied to like five places,” said Ann-Marie Roach, 31, of Jersey City, who was adopting a dog related to a pooch she had already gotten from the rescue group.
“For us it was really just the mission and the horrifying aspect of the meat trade, and that it’s still happening in this day and age.”