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DENVER — Of all the passengers to arrive at Denver International Airport on Monday, few got the sort of fanfare like the group of golden retrievers that flew in from Turkey.

The 18 dogs were flown in by the Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies. The group has been rescuing golden retrievers for years.

In this case, the dogs came from Istanbul. According to the group, the country has been dealing with a terrible golden retriever situation.

The rescue’s executive director, Kevin Shipley, said golden retrievers were once viewed as a status symbol in Turkey. But these days, there are too many of the dogs so a lot of the time people just let them run free in the wild to fend for themselves.

According to Shipley, of the 32 animal shelters in Istanbul, the largest has 4,000 dogs with 20 dogs per pen.

“Once they’re not puppies anymore, and not cute and cuddly, just full grown dogs, people don’t want them,” said Sue Sherman, a member of the organization.

Most of the dogs rescued as part of this operation were found in the forests of Turkey. Some suffered bite marks, large scabs and other issues. But GRRR said the health problems are all treatable.

“At the end of the day, they just act like golden retrievers,” Shipley said.

The dogs will be housed at the group’s facility in Arvada. They’ll receive health treatment, food and plenty of room to play.

This operation wouldn’t have been successful without the help of the sponsors who donated more than $1,000 to bring the dogs to Colorado. It cost roughly $2,000 to $2,300 to fly each dog.

This is the second time GRRR has rescued golden retrievers from Turkey. Of the 18 rescued on Monday, about 15 are still looking for homes, according to Shipley.