The Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons in Wainscott welcomed its first rescue dogs from the Middle East, two large mixes from Iran, where dogs may become illegal to own as pets.
Coordinated by the Humane Society International, the rescue is in response to a proposed ban on all dogs in cities and suburbs of Iran.
Sara Davison, the executive director of ARF Hamptons, said other than the dogs from the Caribbean, this is the organization's first international rescue.
Named "Lampic" and "Narin," the rescues are both young, lanky, female mixes. Lampic has no vision in one eye, but otherwise both dogs appear to be healthy. Having just arrived Monday, they are currently in quarantine in the Adoption Center’s Medical Wing and will need full medical exams and time to acclimate before they can be adopted, Davison said.
The dogs came from the Vafa Animal Shelter, the first animal shelter founded in Iran in 2004. A non-government charity organization, it is located in Hashtgerd, about an hour and a half west of Tehran.
Farah Ravon, Vafa's US Representative who lives in California, said she was in charge of coordinating the advanced reservations for the dogs to fly with a traveling companion.
Ravon said she first learned about Vafa in 2009, while she was a volunteer with Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pitbulls. "I was going home to visit family and contacted the team there to visit the shelter," she said. Since then she has helped bring awareness about the organization to America. She has helped bring out more than 70 dogs.
"Luckily it's easier to bring dogs to US as only requirements are rabies certificated, up-to-date vet health certificate with required vaccinations, and microchip," she said. "Folks (some in Iran and some abroad) offer to sponsor a dog and pay their expenses to get them out, and I handle the rest — by finding a volunteer traveler, making reservations for the dogs, coordinating with team in Iran to get their documents lined up, and depending on where in US/EU the dogs are ending up in, arrange with volunteers in that city to have a team welcome the traveler and the dogs at the airport."
While attending the Humane Society International Expo in Las Vegas earlier this year, one of the representatives she met offered to connect her with reputable shelters in the US and Canada, depending on where a volunteer traveler was flying in to. That's how she ended up connecting with Michele Forrester at ARF.
"I'm humbled by everyone's kindness towards our dogs. They would never have a chance of living in a safe loving home in Iran — not that there aren't any dog lovers in Iran — there are," she said. "However, they have lots of limitations, and are not able to freely take their dogs out on walks, or to the parks — even on leash.
While the proposed ban has not become law yet, according to Ravon, local authorities harass dog owners, confiscating dogs spotted outside with their owners and even some in their homes after receiving complaints from neighbors. "You don't know how many people with pet dogs reach out to me, asking if I can help find their dog a forever home in the US. They're willing to part with their loved pets, only to give them freedom to come to US and be able to go on walks and to dog parks."