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Home is where the heart is

Little Kaya has to be one of the luckiest dogs on the planet. Senior Bear Manager Nic remembers the tiny, skeletal puppy that arrived with us on site at the bear sanctuary in Chengdu after she was picked up from the street. 

She cried her heart out all night until Bear Manager Pernille took up motherly duties and brought her to her room to socialise her with people. She became best friends with one of our resident cats – black Tat Tat – and indeed loves all cats.

In September 2008, Kirvil Skinnarland came back again to see us in Chengdu. Kirvil has been nothing short of marvellous in generously steering Animals Asia through a strategic planning process and was on site to advise the team on putting some of those plans together. 

It was love at first sight for her and for Kaya and, after asking Pernille if she could care for her for a few days in her room, the decision was made by Kirvil to take Kaya back to live with her in the US – and so Kaya became an official resident of Washington State on the first of May.

In her words: "Someone recently asked me (a question I have been expecting), why did you bring a dog from China when there are dogs who need homes here? While that is true, in my view, a dog who needs a home is the same whether she is here or somewhere else in the world. To me, a comment like that is like saying, why do you give money to help starving children in Africa, when there are still children going hungry in the US?

At least a homeless dog in North America will have a home and reasonable care in a shelter while waiting for adoption, and if not adopted, then he or she will have a humane death. 

In the many Asian countries with street dogs, there are few, if any, shelters, and of the few shelters that exist, many cannot provide even basic humane care for the dogs they have. The street dogs face starvation, disease, cruelty, and in China, a long agonising trip to the live animal markets where they are beaten to death.

Kaya is just as affectionate, sensitive, intelligent and loyal as any “American” or “Canadian” dog I have owned before. She, and the millions like her in China and elsewhere in the world, deserve better.

And without any quarantine requirements in the US or Canada, bringing a “Chinese mongrel” (the breed specified in her papers) home is a relatively easy matter. "


The pictures say it all – above, Kaya as a tiny pup, and now safe and sound in Kirvil’s arms. The latest pictures of Kirvil and Kaya were taken beside beautiful Lake Wenatchee, which is fed by glaciers in Washington State’s Cascade Mountains and is really cold.

Kirvil says, “Kaya likes the water and I’m going to see if she will swim with me when the water gets a bit warmer. She is the sweetest animal and a perfect companion. She is so good-natured and gentle. She loves my cats and one of them, Max, is very fond of her”.

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