The groups are planning to use funds to charter a flight from China to Chicago for the dogs, many of which are golden retrievers

By Kelli Bender
June 18, 2020 04:44 PM
Courtesy Retrieve a Golden of the Midwest (RAGOM)

The situation for homeless dogs in China "is really bad right now," Amy Lake, the development manager of Retrieve A Golden of the Midwest (RAGOM) told PEOPLE.

RAGOM, a non-profit operating out of Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin that is dedicated to rescuing golden retrievers all over the world, has been helping save dogs from China, specifically those caught in the dog meat trade, for years.

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has caused rescue efforts in the country for RAGOM and many other rescue groups to come to a halt — since many rescues depend on volunteer international travelers to fly with the dogs from China to their new homes around the world.

But with the Yulin Dog Meat Festival approaching, and China's shelters filling with surrendered dogs because of the effects of COVID-19 on people's lives, RAGOM and other rescue groups knew they couldn't ignore this "perfect storm" of dog dangers, according to Lake, and wait for international travel to return to normal.

To take action, RAGOM and 8 other U.S. rescue groups, looked into chartering a private plane for a group of nearly 100 rescue dogs from China, with help from China Dog Rescue, and were fortunate enough to be approached by an aviation company.

Courtesy Retrieve a Golden of the Midwest (RAGOM)

The company, which wishes to remain anonymous, has offered to charter a plane for the rescues and is only asking for the groups to cover the fuel price and several other expenses — a total of $260,000.

RAGOM and the other groups now have until early July to raise the money for the flight and have already accumulated $177,000 dollars in donations.

"This is an all or nothing fundraiser, which meach if we don't reach our $260,000 goal, we won't be able to charter the plane," Lake said of the importance behind raising this money by the deadline.

If the funds are raised, the plane will fly out to China in early July pick up close to 100 dogs, including numerous golden retrievers and small breed dogs, and fly them back to Chicago's O'Hare airport, where volunteers from each of the nine rescues will be waiting to pick up the pooches and drive them to foster homes around the country. Once the dogs are rested, comfortable, and healthy, they will be placed for adoption.

To help RAGOM and the other rescues reach their goal and save close to 100 canines in need, you can donate to the rescue fund at RAGOM's website.