CHICAGO - A local animal rescue group has reached a deal with federal authorities that will allow 15 French bulldogs rescued from a warehouse at O’Hare International Airport to remain in the country after the the Centers for Disease Control initially had demanded their deportation.
The dogs have been in the care of the Chicago French Bulldog Rescue since Aug. 31, when they were allegedly found caged two-by-two without food and water in an airport warehouse.
Two French Bulldogs found in an O’Hare Airport warehouse Aug. 31, 2020. | Chicago French Bulldog Rescue
After the dogs were nursed back to health, the CDC threatened the rescue group with a possible court order if they did not return the dogs to the airport, from which they would be deported on Royal Jordanian Airlines to the Middle East.
The rescue group announced Monday they would not abide by the CDC’s demands, and on Friday, U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., confirmed the bulldogs would be allowed to remain in the country.
“In the middle of an incredibly difficult year, I am thrilled to hear the good news that that this group of puppies will be staying in the U.S.,” Quigley said in a statement. “First and foremost, I want to thank the Chicago French Bulldog Rescue and PAWS Chicago for everything they have done for these animals. When they were found, they were in incredibly poor health and without the dedication of the rescue and veterinarians, we may not be celebrating this good news today.”
A source in the congressman’s office said the agreement was reached between the rescue group, the CDC and the Department of Agriculture with some prodding from Quigley and Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.
A Change.org petition created by the rescue group to let the bulldogs stay had garnered over 120,000 signatures by the time the decision was made.
The puppies will be quarantined “for the next few weeks” at a PAWS Chicago facility under the agreement with the CDC and Illinois Department of Agriculture, the rescue group said in a statement Saturday morning. After the quarantine period, they will be placed in foster homes for further care, treatment and training before being put up for adoption.
“Saving these puppies lives was only achieved through acts both small and large of literally over one hundred thousand people”, Mary Scheffke, director of the Chicago French Bulldog Rescue, said in the statement. “We now must harness the momentum to fix the broken system and create permanent change.”
The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The initial groups of 18 dogs was shipped to the U.S. from Russia in August, but, lacking vaccination papers, barred from entering the country and moved to the O’Hare warehouse, where they were stranded for three days. One of the dogs died, and two more — a Belgian Malinois and German shepherd —were transferred to the care of Chicago Animal Care and Control.
Miami-based Alliance Ground International was cited by police for animal cruelty and neglect, though the company has denied the charges.