Fulton County Area News founder Ryan Lorey prefers cats over dogs, but when Arya, a 4-year-old Pomeranian, jumped into his arms and started licking his face at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, he wanted to adopt her immediately.
Of course, the Gloversville resident wasn’t there to do that on March 23 when he and volunteers from rescue group No Dogs Left Behind greeted 44 canines fresh off a 19-hour flight from East Asia. More than a dozen helpers were at the airport, either looking to adopt or send pups on a path towards adoption.
“At one point, there was some chaos,” Lorey said. “They really needed some help because there weren’t enough hands down there.”
Lorey was helping a friend of a friend, Albany Medical Center neurology department employee Sue Robinson, drive down to New York City. As an animal welfare advocate, Robinson has taken in five different rescue dogs.
She only knew of Lorey at the time of the trip, but the two have since become friends.
“Honestly, he’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met,” Robinson said.
They brought one dog, Sugar, to Connecticut. Robinson will foster Arya in Albany County.
So far, the pup is adjusting well to her new life.
“She’s a fast learner, a spirited walker and people-loving little dog,” Robinson said.
All of the pups were rescued from potential slaughter in pockets of East Asia where consumption is legal. Of about 30 million dogs and 10 million cats slaughtered each year for human consumption, 10 and four million, respectively, are killed in China, according to Humane Society International. In China, dog consumers only account for 20% of the population.
No Dogs Left Behind primarily stands against the treatment of slain dogs.
“There’s a huge amount of dogs being slaughtered in sadistic ways: blowtorched, boiled alive, dismembered, skinned alive where they’re screaming,” said Jeffrey Beri, founder of No Dogs Left Behind.
No Dogs Left Behind was formed in 2016 after Beri helped save 121 dogs from a slaughterhouse in the Chinese city of Yulin. The group has a satellite office in Florida, but primarily works out of a St. Lawrence County headquarters.
“This is the first time that I ever did anything like this and it was something I’d never forget,” Lorey said.
Between working as a school bus driver in the Mayfield Central School District, driving party buses and administering his Facebook blog, the 45-year-old maintained that he has time to help out “as many times” as he can do it.
This is No Dogs Left Behind’s first flight since the Center for Disease Control put a ban on the importation of dogs from among 113 countries deemed high-risk for rabies in 2021. Starting March 1, the federal laxed restrictions, requiring all dogs to be vaccinated and microchipped.
Now that transportation has resumed, there could be more adoption opportunities in Fulton County for dogs, Lorey said.
“Not Thelma and Louise, Sue and Ryan plan to go again,” Robinson said.
After posting a link to Daily News coverage of the volunteer effort in New York City on his area news blog, Lorey received negative feedback from commenters upset over him bringing more dogs into the country. Lorey disabled the comments.
“Dogs are dogs and I don’t care where the hell they come from,” Lorey said. “We help animals and these were animals that needed the help.”
Tyler A. McNeil can be reached at 518-395-3047 or [email protected] Follow him on Facebook at Tyler A. McNeil, Daily Gazette or Twitter @TylerAMcNeil.