Rescue saves dog from China days before travel restrictions

Local News

ERIE, Colo. (KDVR) — Leighland Gutierrez and Liza Nyhuis were just a day shy of not getting their rescue Golden Retriever into the United States from China.

“We broadcasted to people we were saving a golden from China,” Gutierrez said. 

Gutierrez and his girlfriend Nyhuis adopted their first rescue Golden Retriever through Bunny’s Buddies, a rescue organization out of San Diego, back in 2019. They stated the dog, Sophie B, came over on a flight with a volunteer and everything went smooth. 

They stated their most recent rescue, Olivia Rose, a young Golden Retriever that was pulled from a meat truck in China, was a much different story. 

“We had to do everything we could to adopt before the ban went into place,” Nyhuis said. 

In June, the couple learned through the Bunny’s Buddies Instagram page about a new temporary suspension the Center for Disease Control and Prevention put out about allowing dogs into the United States. 

The suspension includes a long list of countries that are no longer allowed to ship dogs into the United States. 

“113 countries are affected by this ban,” Amanda Jo, the Founder of Bunny’s Buddies said. 

Her rescue primarily pulls from China, which is on the banned CDC list and South Korea, which isn’t on the banned list. 

“It’s devastating to know these dogs won’t have help. No one can help them,” Jo said. 

The CDC stated on their website the main reason for the temporary suspension: 

This temporary action is necessary to ensure the health and safety of dogs imported into the United States and to protect the public’s health against the reintroduction of canine rabies virus variant (dog rabies) into the United States.

The suspension stated that in some situations people can apply for special permits but rescues and sales are not included. 

Dogs intended for sale, adoption, or transfer of ownership are NOT eligible for a CDC Dog Import Permit. Dogs intended for sale or adoption from high-risk countries will be denied entry into the United States and sent back to the country of departure at the importer’s expense.

But Jo stated that her rescue makes sure all dogs are fully vaccinated and healthy before even making the trip to the United States and she wants the CDC to make exceptions for rescues like hers or for the ban to be reversed. 

“There is absolutely no way around this the dogs are not leaving China anytime soon,” Jo said. 

The suspension went into place on July 14, leaving the rescues only a few weeks to raise enough money to get the remaining rescue dogs to the United States, that included Olivia Rose. 

“We were at the mercy of being able to get them in before the 14th of July. We know permits were being declined. It was gut wrenching and nerve racking for everyone,” Gutierrez said. 

It wasn’t just the fear of the dogs making it in time it was also the cost. Jo said the transportation companies knew rescues were scrambling to get dogs to the US before July 14, and she said they took advantage of that by tripling the costs. 

“If a cargo spot was 3,200 now its 10,000,” Jo said. 

Gutierrez and Nyhuis ended up paying $5,000 of their own money towards Olivia’s transport and they said friends, family and strangers donated the remaining $5,000 needed. 

“When you can save them from a country that doesn’t want them or views them as a food item its worth it,” Gutierrez said. 

Olivia made it into the Los Angeles airport at 1 a.m. on July 13. Her family grateful she made it in time. They were able to travel with her back to Colorado where she was able to meet her other fur-siblings, Sophie B (fellow China rescue) and a Bernese Mountain Dog named Cooper. 

“We do know she is acclimating to Colorado and getting along with her brother and sister, and she is going to enjoy her life here with us,” Gutierrez said. 

Jo stated her rescue is planning on meeting with Congress to try and see if they can make changes to the ban or reverse it. 

“So many lives won’t be saved if this ban continues and doesn’t get reversed,” Nyhuis said. 

You can follow Olivia and Sophie’s journeys through Instagram: @Golden_Girls_Colorado You can follow Bunny’s Buddies rescue organization also through Instagram: @BunnysBuddies

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