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.