These Dogs Traveled More Than 5,700 Miles for a Better Life

Adopt a Golden Atlanta
pulled off the largest golden retriever rescue in the world. They’re calling the 36 goldens rescued from Instanbul the “Turkey Dogs,” and now they’re working to find a home these sweet pups.

For a decade, golden retrievers were a status symbol in Turkey, but now that they’re such a common pet they’ve lost their luster for many people in Istanbul. When the status started to fade, many golden owners sent their mild-tempered dogs to shelters or abandoned them in the streets.

Goldens don’t do well without humans to support them, especially in  a city like Istanbul with a large feral dog population. Lauren Genkinger told USA Today that, “They don’t make it because the feral dogs will attack them and they don’t fight back.”

Adopt a Golden Atlanta pulled off the largest golden retriever rescue in the world. They're calling the 36 goldens rescued from Instanbul the "Turkey Dogs," and now they're working to home these sweet pups.

Why go through the expense of flying the dogs more than 5700 miles? The problem is that Istanbul’s shelters are overrun. According to Genkinger, “Space seldom opens up unless dogs die or are taken to other countries.  Adoption isn’t popular in Turkey, so the dogs live their lives in the streets and forests, or if they are lucky, in a shelter. There are 32 animal shelters in Istanbul and it is estimated that over 50,000 dogs (all breeds) are living on the streets.”

Thirty-six golden retrievers boarded a plane in Istanbul and arrived in Atlanta 12 hours later, on May 9th. Adopt a Golden had to do more than just provide transport. Each dog needed a photo ID, passport, and health certificates. They worked closely with animal shelters in Istanbul to get the paperwork together.

The dogs range in age from six months old to 10 years old, and some of them — especially dogs rescued from the streets — are worse for wear. Adopt a Golden is rehabilitating them now. They’re living with foster families and getting ready for adoption at the end of May or in early June.

The group is being especially choosy about where they home these dogs. I can tell you from my own experience with a troubled rescue that traumatized dogs need a lot more love and care than ones who came from stable homes. They need extra patience, training, and compassion. Adopt a Golden is giving priority to adoption applications from homes with at least one person who stays or works at home.

As of this writing, Adopt a Golden has received more than 250 applications from prospective adoptive families. What they need now right now is money to help cover transportation, vet, and other costs associated with this massive rescue. Their motto, explains Genkinger, is “that we never say no to a Golden Retriever in need.” You can make a donation to their organization here (scroll down for the Donate button). 

Images via Adopt a Golden Atlanta


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Elizabeth W.
Elizabeth W3 years ago

What a touching story. Thankyou for sharing.

Mandy B.
Mandy B3 years ago

Goldies need love. What a great project. Thank you!

Stardust Noel
Past Member 3 years ago


Donna T.
Donna T3 years ago

thank you

Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey3 years ago

Well done to this organisation. Hope they can rescue more dogs as 36 is only a tiny drop in the ocean.

mari s.
Mari S3 years ago

Thank you a million fold to this wonderful Rescue group -- I'd like to add that no decent and respectable society would do to their animals what has been done to these sweeties. I recently came across this --

I'm a "forever" dog, not an "until" dog.

I'm not an "until you get bored with me" dog.
I'm not an "until you find a girlfriend" dog.
I'm not an "until you have a baby" dog.
I'm not an "until you have to move" dog.
I'm not an "until you have no time" dog.

I'm a FOREVER dog.

If you can't give me "forever,"
I'm not your dog.

maria reis
maria reis3 years ago

The life is hard for street cats and dogs. And some ofereceram us can make their lives worse.

Past Member 3 years ago

welcome home

rosaria aurino
rosaria aurino3 years ago