When Karen Levine first met her newest dog Nutmeg in December, the Golden Retriever had just gotten off an airplane from Istanbul, Turkey to be adopted in Colorado.
"I put in an application and forgot to tell my husband," Levine said. "She was my Christmas present."
Nutmeg was part of a plane full of dogs headed to Golden Retriever Rescue of the Rockies in Arvada. About a year ago, Executive Director Kevin Shipley says GRRR got involved in addressing a problem in Istanbul where an estimated 50,000 stray dogs run rampant.
"The dogs were released in the streets and in the forest surrounding Istanbul," Shipley said.
He says a lot of Golden Retrievers are part of the problem because of how they were revered in Turkey.
"Golden Retrievers specifically were a status symbol at one time," Shipley said.
So far, the group has rescued 64 dogs with the latest arrivals coming in last week in a campaign dubbed, "Operation Turkey Dog".
"They do have certain needs sometimes medically that would never have been met in Istanbul," Shipley said.
One dog currently at GRRR is blind. Another dog has only three legs. But, he says it is easy to find them good homes here.
"Golden Retrievers are like the state dog for Colorado," Shipley said. "I mean they are extremely popular."
Levine says people like their personalities.
"The beauty of Golden Retrievers is they want to give you love," Levine said.
Golden Retrievers Rescue of the Rockies is expecting another plane load of dogs to arrive from Turkey in June. If you want to find out more about it or see how you can help, click here: http://www.goldenrescue.com/
The group is not open to the general public. People who are interested in adopting a dog have to make an appointment.
Levine says people who adopt one won't regret it.
"I love having her around," Levine said.