International Rescue

An open letter from A & B’s International Rescue Coordinator, Jennifer…….

Did you know A & B has a very robust international rescue program?? Since 2017, we have rescued hundreds of setters from Greece, Turkey, & Serbia, and other European countries. 

So, why do we rescue dogs from abroad???

The culture and environment in many countries is very different from what we have here in the US. Yes, we have many, many unwanted dogs sitting in shelters, but we also have many rescues, humane societies, volunteers, government grants and humane education programs to help. However, in Greece, Turkey and other countries, they have none of these things. Here in America, we have 5 national and regional English Setter breed rescues, plus some other state breed rescues and other bird dog rescues. In Greece & Turkey, with my experience to date, there are none. There are very few government funded shelters (and most of them are terrible), no spay/neuter laws, and virtually no culture of adoption, particularly for breeds like setters that are considered “working dogs”. In many parts of Greece, the government actually works against the very small group of rescuers who try to make a difference. Often, stray dogs are treated like rats or vermin, and in rural villages where many setters are abandoned, they are poisoned in the streets. The best chance a Greek or Turkish street dog has for a family and a future, is to be adopted abroad.

Since there are virtually no public shelters, the shelters that do exist are makeshift units put together by a handful of strong and courageous individuals who give everything they have to help these dogs, often fighting their own cultures and communities to do so. They make shelters in their yards, build them out of leftover materials, and do whatever they can with very few resources. I have personally visited a few of these shelters…. one in the north of Greece has over 70 dogs. It is run by one amazing woman who works from dawn to dusk 7 days a week to feed, water and care for these dogs. She does it alone. Another is on the island of Santorini. It is also run by one amazing woman and houses over 120 animals – mostly dogs, but also some donkeys, pigs, and even a pelican. This one is better funded than the one up north, thanks to support from rescues in Germany, Holland, and Scandinavia, but the daily work is managed by one woman with the help of some occasional volunteers. Another in Turkey houses literally hundreds of dogs – mostly hunting breeds – and is run by one caring man with the help of a few volunteers.  There are many others that are similar… and many individual rescuers scooping abandoned and sick dogs off the streets, nursing them back to health and trying desperately to find places for them to go.  They rely on organizations like A&B and similar groups in the USA, UK and Germany to help find homes for these dogs.  There is nowhere else for them to go.

People often ask and express concern about the health hazards and whether bringing these dogs will introduce diseases we don’t have in the USA and cause a risk to dogs or people here. The dogs that Above and Beyond rescues go through a very rigorous vetting process before they come. They must have all the required vaccines (rabies, distemper, parvo, hepatitis, leptospirosis, etc.) and blood tests are run for diseases, like Leishmania, that aren’t endemic here in the United States as well as for all the common tick and mosquito-borne illnesses. If a dog’s bloodwork comes back positive for any diseases, they are treated before ever coming to the USA, and we do not bring dogs who test positive for illnesses that cannot be cured. Every dog that comes into the USA has an international pet passport listing all their vaccines and medical treatments and an international health certificate signed by a registered veterinarian confirming that they are healthy and do not pose a health risk to humans or other animals. 

We do it for the wonderful animals who would have no hope and no future without our help. We do it for the courageous and incredible rescuers there who dedicate more than most of us can even imagine to help these animals. The setters that have come here from abroad are some of the sweetest, gentlest and most loving animals you will ever meet. They are generally great with other dogs and extremely affectionate with their people. Just ask one of their adopters who have experienced the joy and love these beautiful dogs bring. They are so grateful for every scrap of love they get. They are amazing, and they deserve to have a future and a family.

Bringing setters here from abroad doesn’t stop us from helping dogs in the US. We don’t turn away setters who need us across the US in order to help those from afar. We help them ALL.

Read more here…….

1https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/animalwelfare/ct_awa_import_live_dogs_regulation#:~:text=Specific%20paperwork%20must%20accompany%20the,import%20permit%20issued%20by%20APHIS.