JDHF co-founders Katherine Heigl and Nancy Heigl visited Los Angeles International Airport on Saturday afternoon to complete a very special rescue! They were there to greet two dogs that had travelled all the way from Sochi, Russia, with E! News Olympics correspondent Ali Fedotowsky, and to help find loving homes for them.
The plight of stay dogs in the Russian city has been highlighted extensively in the press, after the country's government authorized a pest removal company to rid Sochi of hundreds of stray dogs before the Olympic opening ceremony. To combat the move, which was met with outrage from animal lovers, several international athletes, team staff and press attending the event adopted stray dogs to help save them.
"This is Adler, which is a town next to Sochi," Fedotowksy told PEOPLE of one of the dogs she flew in with on Saturday afternoon. "She's very playful." A male dog, Sochi, had been ill on the flight and wasn't so energetic. Fedotowsky's role in the rescue process was to get the dogs to the United States safely, where the JDHF would look after the animals.
Katherine and Nancy heard Sochi was unwell prior to his arrival, "Sochi hasn't eaten in 15 hours and is throwing up so we are hoping that it's just from the travel," Katherine said, before talking the dogs away to commence the quarantine process. She explained that the two to four weeks process was to ensure that the dogs were "not carrying infectious diseases that could be passed on to humans."
"We haven't done this before. We haven't done a rescue from another country," Katherine added. "I'm nervous for the dogs. It's an awfully long flight. I'm hoping it's the beginning of the good life to come."
Her caution was soon warranted, after the results of the puppies first medical check up in the U.S. Sochi were revealed. Sochi, the male dog, has been diagnosed with canine parvovirus ("parvo") and will face a battle to recover, while Adler, the female pup, has a cough which needs to be very closely monitored. Both animals are now receiving dedicated treatment with the Foundation's veterinary experts.
Anyone who wishes to support the pups recovery and contribute to the cost of their medical care can do so using our online donation form, or by simply clicking the button above.
Pending his recovery, Amanda Bird, the marketing and communications director for the USA bobsled and skeleton team, and her husband, have already stepped forward to adopt Sochi.
Fedotowsky said that she had received some "criticism" for bringing strays back from Russia when there are so many dogs in America in need of homes. But she told KABC, "If you saw what I saw every day in Sochi, you would have brought back one too."
While the JDHF does not encourage the public to import animals from other countries, we recognize it can be very difficult emotionally for anyone to see an animal suffering and not want to help. We would urge you to please check with your vet and the CDC before you consider bringing an animal into the United States.