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Willow’s Flight to Freedom

On Wednesday last, The Circular met up with Mary Keenan who recently adopted a rescue dog from China.

Sunday the 24th of March, Mary and her husband David were at Dublin airport to meet their new dog, Willow. Willow is a poodle from China, who was one of a large group of dogs that were rescued from a truck on their way to a dog slaughterhouse. The rescue was done by an animal welfare group called Little China Dog Rescue (formerly known as Doggy 911) . This group of people are trying to save as many dogs as they can from cruelty and from being slaughtered for food.

Willow in the Rescue Centre, Photo Credit Mary Keenan

“There was great excitement, we were following her flight on flight radar, from Beijing to Paris and then we tracked her flight from Paris to Dublin.”

Mary, who grew up with dogs and has kept dogs all her life, has two other poodles Evie and Ella.

Mary had not been a huge fan of Social Media in the past and was only involved in Social Media in the last four years. It was through this involvement that she found out just how bad the situation was for dogs in China. She also discovered Little China Dog Rescue through the same channel.

“It really happened by accident. I always said I would rescue a dog at some stage down the road but because of what was going on over there those dogs need to get out. They need to get out,. I know people are going to say,  oh, why did you rescue a dog from China? I know there are lots of dogs for rescue here but while they are in the rescue centres they are safe. They’re not safe in China.  They have to be got out because all you need is a law tomorrow to close down all those shelters and all those dogs will go into the food chain.”

Mary and Willow in Dublin Airport, Photo Credit David Holmes

Mary’s main motivation was the horror of what the dogs go through before they are slaughtered for food. The dogs are tortured before they are killed. “It’s the torture that’s inflicted on the dogs under the belief that it tenderise the meat is what I have a major objection with. She had to be got out.”

Mary told The Circular that, a day after the interview, the Safe Haven boarding kennels where  Willow had been looked after since January until her “Freedom Flight”  had just been closed down. The Chinese authorities wanted to turn the kennels into farms. In China there are many restrictions on trying to save dogs, including a prohibition on owning more than one dog or owning a dog above knee height. Because of these restrictions many people give up their own dogs for slaughter.

Evie, Ella and Willow in their happy place, Photo Credit Sadbh Maguire

When asked about peoples reaction to rescuing a Chinese dog Mary said “Amazing actually, I’ve had huge, huge support from my friends, massive support from my friends. People in work are behind it and are checking in on her (Willow). People in my poodle friend’s group are all checking in on her. So huge, huge support because of her background.” The reaction is completely different than if she had just gotten a new dog. “Because of where she came from I think if I’d gotten a new dog I think they would say “oh, you got  a new dog oh right, how she getting on ? I suppose it was a big thing to do as I’ve never seen her or met her I just saw pictures and I saw her video but I’d never met her.”

Willow is now enjoying her new life of freedom and is starting to get on well with Mary’s other dogs. Like any dog,  she just loves going for a run in the park.

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