KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Packs of purebred dogs -- as many as 50,000 of them-- are living on the streets of Turkey. Seven hundred of these dogs are Golden Retrievers. Now many of them are getting a second chance here in East Tennessee.
"There are literally dozens of Golden Retrievers running on either side of the vehicle," said Jessica Popek, Marketing Director at Adopt a Golden Knoxville. "They're so hungry for human attention because they did used to be someone's pet and so they are actually trying to climb in the car."
About five years ago, having a Golden Retriever was considered a trend.
"It was a status symbol," said Popek. "It made people think that person was very wealthy."
That novelty wore off.
"People dumped the dogs in surrounding parts throughout city," said Popek.
Shelters in Turkey are begging the United States for help. Adopt a Golden rescued 36 purebreds and flew them to Atlanta. Six of those came to the Knoxville adoption center.
These dogs were found in the streets -- some starving, others hurt.
Domesticated dogs left in the wild are estimated to live seven to eight years. That's just about half the average life span for a Golden Retriever.
Shelters here in the US already have an overpopulation problem, having to euthanize dogs daily. Popek said it's different with Goldens.
"There is a large demand of families in the US that want Goldens and because our country has done such a great job with spay and neuter, there isn't an overpopulation of the breed," said Popek. "We don't have purebred Goldens sitting in shelters running the risk of being euthanized."
She has over 100 approved families who have been waiting several months to adopt, but they are still looking for parents to adopt and foster their Goldens.
Rescuing these dogs costs thousands of dollars a dog. There are 700 Golden Retrievers that are still running wild in Turkey. If you would like to donate to help rescue a Golden, check out the link in the tab.