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Covid-19 makes it harder to save dogs and cats across borders, but rescue organizations are finding a way

October 13, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Farm 16 dogs departing South Korea

As Covid-19 swept the globe, animal welfare advocates found themselves navigating a new world. The essential work of relocating dogs and cats from high-risk situations to places with a greater demand for adoption was packed with new barriers due to Covid-related travel restrictions.

Julian Javor -- founder of Pet Rescue Pilots, a nonprofit that flies dogs and cats from overcrowded shelters to rescue groups -- said this disparity between supply and demand can be attributed to a variety of factors.

Debbie Newton's animal rescue non-profit RSQ209 in Valley Springs, California, deals with severe overpopulation locally and sends roughly 100 dogs a month to Canada.

Donithan usually coordinates two South Korean dog meat farm closures per year, so there's a familiar pattern to it.

During the 30-day waiting period, Donithan explained, the rescued animals usually stay at the facility with the farmer, who is voluntarily transitioning to another line of work and has signed a contract to continue providing care.

In the early days of the pandemic; however, South Korea drastically restricted travel within its own borders in an effort to abate the virus' spread, so even local HSI staff were unable to conduct their visits, Donithan said.

"We were getting worried about the condition of animals on the farm, [so] our Korean staff and some volunteers were able to get all the dogs off the farm and put them into our partner boarding facility," she said.

Although the government has been supportive, with the regional government in Siem Reap even banning the dog meat trade in the province, Polak worries about her partner rescues' capacity to take in more animals.

"We want to offer support to the government to say, 'Close these places, close these places, let's help rescue the dogs,'" Polak said.

In July, five months after HSI's initial vaccination trip, Donithan helped load 105 dogs onto a cargo plane in South Korea.

In early October, Donithan headed back to South Korea to retrieve 195 dogs from another farm closure.

South Korean staff were able to carry out the vaccine visit about a month ago, and Donithan will be there to help transfer the dog from farm to airport — after undergoing a mandatory two-week quarantine.

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