Finding homes for Istanbul's abandoned golden retrievers - Cincinnati News, Weather, Sports from FOX19 NOW-WXIX

Finding homes for Istanbul's abandoned golden retrievers

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(FOX19) -

Sweet and gentle, golden retrievers make the perfect family dog, but half a world away, thousands of golden retrievers have been dumped to wander the streets.

Dozens of the dogs from Istanbul, Turkey are getting a second chance with US families.

Less than a year ago, Derby was homeless street dog in Istanbul.

It's a tragic phenomenon, it's become fashionable to own family-friendly golden retrievers in Turkey. Once the dogs aren't small, cute puppies anymore, owners abandon them.

Left to fend by themselves by their former families, the dogs must fight for every scrap of food. Every second is life or death for these gentle animals ill-equipped to live as strays.

"They cannot talk. They don't steal. They just want food and affection," dog rescuer Yasemin Baban said.

Baban has made it her mission to try and save these dogs in her native Turkey. She's finding homes for them 6,000 miles away in the United States.

"It's amazing it feels like a dream," she said.

Working with 25 rescues groups in the US, dozens of goldens have been rescued and adopted by American families.

"Golden Retriever Rescue of Needy Dogs," based in Louisville, is one of the regional groups involved in their trips overseas. 

"A lot of them are very underweight and have bite marks on them because they've been trying to survive for food on the streets," Kimberly Ballard with GRRAND said.

Several brought over will all eventually be adopted in Kentucky and the Cincinnati area.

"Just to see them come out of there and coming from these situations that they've been in, knowing they're going to go to great homes with great people who are gonna love them for the rest of their lives, it's very powerful," volunteer Brigid Witzke said. 

There's a $650 adoption fee for each dog.

GRRAND said the travel costs run about $2,000 per dog. The money is donated and volunteers do the work.

The golden-specific rescue group said no matter where they will rescue dogs in need, even if it requires a plane ride.

GRRAND does two "Turkey dog" missions a year.

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