CARY, N.C. -- “There he is! That’s him!” shouted the crowd, as Kevin Pence rolled up to a hero’s reception.
Kevin lives in Greensboro but had just finished a whirlwind, 24-hour round trip to JFK Airport in New York City, to bring five beagles to Cary.
That may not sound like a big deal – five dogs making a trip to North Carolina – but it’s where the dogs’ story began that makes it compelling.
Just a week or so before, they were destined to be served up as a meal in a restaurant in China.
“It's kind of a difficult situation because, culturally, there are people who view the animals differently than we do,” notes Kevin.
These five beagles will find homes in North Carolina, thanks to Triangle Beagle Rescue, who worked with a group that brings as many of the dogs as they can, out of China.
“Rushton Dog Rescue, they’re out of Somerset, England, and that’s their whole mission,” says Lisa Mason with Triangle Beagle Rescue. "They've got a whole network of people in China that don't believe in this and that work very hard - they'll stop the trucks as they're rolling down the road and negotiate - I'm sure cash changes hands, a little bit - to get the dogs out of the trucks before they get to market. They'll give you numbers that 10 million dogs in China, annually, are used in this illegal trade.”
The dogs spend a few days in China with host families before they flew from Beijing to New York and are surprisingly healthy once they get here.
“Some of them are probably poor areas where their animals aren't necessarily well taken care of, and this is just another protein source for them,” says veterinarian Quentin Hodges. “With these particular dogs, once we do the exam, we'll be able to figure out exactly what issues these dogs may have before they go to their new homes.”
And there are homes for them, here, where dogs have a much more exalted position in society.
“Maybe it's Snoopy, maybe it's just that they're so popular throughout the United States that you see those little beagles over there, any of the dogs,” says Lisa. “People relate to that, they relate to the animals as part of their family, part of their lives.”
Despite this mission, Lisa says their work is likely to never end.
“I don't see a day when there will never be a day for rescue. I wish I could say that but no.”
Meet the dogs in this edition of the Buckley Report.