By Carrie Parker
When 10 puppies arrived at Little Shelter Animal Rescue and Adoption Center on Monday, they were shaken, but they were finally safe.
The dogs had just journeyed from a holding shelter in South Korea, enduring a 14-hour flight and an hour-long van ride to arrive at the shelter in Huntington. Thanks to volunteers from Little Shelter and Free Korean Dogs, the puppies had escaped the jaws of the Korean meat trade.
“Naturally, they were very frightened,” Little Shelter Executive Director David Ceely said of the dogs upon their arrival. “They were friendly, but it wasn’t the easiest to get them out of the carriers.”
The two animal rescue organizations reached across the globe in an effort to provide the mistreated animals with a compassionate home. Free Korean Dogs is a small, Toronto-based, not-for-profit founded in 2015. They save hundreds of dogs each year through a rescue network that connects their shelter in Ilsan, South Korea with other shelters or homes there or internationally.
And while most of Little Shelter’s work over the last 90 years has served Long Island communities, Ceely says he feels the organization is now at a level that enables them to help out across globe.
“If we have the ability, we have the responsibility,” Ceely said. “And we do.”
Little Shelter connected with EK Park, the founder and executive director of Free Korean Dogs, who Ceely says “enlightened” them about the ongoing problems with the unregulated Korean meat industry.
Free Korean Dogs estimates that each year over 2 million dogs are raised and slaughtered for the Korean meat trade, which does not have any effective legislative oversight or regulation. Dogs are often tortured before consumption according to the customary belief that the adrenaline will make the meat tastier.
“We’ve been very aware of the problem and have kept our eyes and ears open,” Ceely said. The opportunity to open their arms to the puppies finally came with the global transport this week.
Ceely said the dogs were spayed and neutered and received a full medical work-up prior to disembarking. The Free Korean Dogs volunteers got the dogs safely on the flight, and then Little Shelter volunteers were ready to receive the puppies at JFK on Monday afternoon.
When it came time to bring the puppies inside Little Shelter, Ceely said “we took it very slow, going at their pace.”
The dogs, which range 4-15 pounds and 9 months-3 years old, have also been named, Ceely said. One dog now goes by the name Cutie Pie.
The puppies “all seem very healthy and for the most part well-adjusted,” Ceely said, but Little Shelter will hold the litter for a two week quarantine just to ensure they are safely acclimated.
Their next stop after that? Adoption.
Little Shelter (33 Warner Road, Huntington) is also currently asking for donations to help cover the incurred $5,000 of transporting these dogs to safety. For more information, call 631-368-8770 ext. 26.