Fufu's Incredible Journey
by Carie Broecker
Fufu was found almost hairless and scrounging for food on a beach in Northern Taiwan, when a concerned tourist spotted her. Fufu was frightened and evasive but finally came to her. The woman could tell the small dog needed medical treatment and took her to a veterinarian, but the woman was about to fly home and wondered what would happen to the little one she named “Fufu.”
Fortunately, a rescue group was contacted. The Taichung Universal Animal Protection Association (TUAPA), located three hours to the south in the city of Taichung, arranged to get Fufu to their animal shelter and continue with the medical care she needed.
TUAPA is home to nearly 900 dogs at any given time. Many of the dogs live their entire lives in the care of the staff and volunteers who dedicate themselves to giving these dogs a better life than they had on the streets. The lucky ones get adopted to loving Taiwanese families. These are usually the younger, healthy dogs.
TUAPA also flies approximately 200 dogs out of Taiwan every year to partner rescue groups in the United States and other western countries.
Johanna Quinn, an American native, has been volunteering at TUAPA for the past six years. She coordinates most of the flights for TUAPA dogs leaving Taiwan. When Johanna first met this tiny sweet dog Fufu, she fell in love with her and knew she had to get her to a better place. Fufu was estimated to be 10 years old and had tested positive for heartworm. At her age, she was not likely to get adopted if she stayed in Taiwan.
Johanna reached out to some of the rescue partners in the United States asking for help for Fufu, and Debra Long, a rescue coordinator with several rescue organizations, offered to take Fufu.
Finding a group willing to take Fufu was only the first step. Next, Johanna needed to find someone flying out of Taiwan to the United States. Through Facebook, she was able to find a dog-lover willing to escort Fufu on her flight to San Francisco to meet up with volunteers who would then take her to a vet clinic in Santa Cruz for her heartworm treatment.
Fufu’s journey began with a three-hour drive to the airport, then a two-hour wait before boarding the plane. Next, she was on an 11-hour flight crossing the Pacific Ocean to San Francisco, and a 90-minute drive to Santa Cruz.
This was just the journey for one dog. Two hundred dogs and escorts duplicate similar trips throughout each year. TUAPA covers all the costs for the flight. The cost is approximately $200 per dog depending upon weight. Not all the dogs TUAPA exports to safety are tiny like Fufu. They transport many purebred dogs who are bought in pet stores and later abandoned. German Shepherds, Great Danes, Golden Retrievers, Bernese Mountain Dogs, and Huskies are among some of the popular breeds that end up at TUAPA and find their way to rescue groups in western countries.
Fufu’s heartworm treatment was successful, and she was ready for a foster home. Peace of Mind Dog Rescue (POMDR), a local group specializing in rescuing senior dogs, was able to take her into their foster care program. Fufu’s name got changed to Lulu and she blossomed in foster care. It was discovered that Lulu absolutely loved big dogs! This 8-pound ball of fluff —her fur did grow back in nicely —would invite any large dog to play with her with a wiggle and a bow.
Maria Lange, proud mother of two rambunctious chocolate Labradors named Roxie and Abby, saw Lulu on the POMDR website and filled out an application to adopt her. Later that week, she met Lulu at an adoption event and had to stand in line to spend time with her. Seven other families had shown up that day to meet Lulu. For one reason or another, none of the other homes were the perfect fit for Lulu, but Maria was smitten. The next day a POMDR volunteer drove to Maria’s home for the home check and to see how Roxie and Abby got along with Lulu. The doggie chemistry was perfect and Lulu had a new home.
Lulu loves curling up in bed with her big sisters, darting around with them in their football field-sized backyard, going on boating trips, sunning herself, and swimming in the lake with her life vest on and mom by her side, while her big sisters swim circles around her.
It was a long journey for Lulu, but it was well worth it! She thinks this is the life she was born to live.
Taichung Universal Animal Protection Association (TUAPA) is a nonprofit rescue organization located in Taichung, central Taiwan. Established in 1994, they are currently headed by eight staff members, one vet, and scores of volunteers. They have their own facilities to house approximately 1,000 dogs. To help, visit www.tuapa.org.tw, click on “English” for English translation of web page. Or email Johanna at firstname.lastname@example.org.