From the moment Jessica Weeks and Bill Gillis of Patchogue laid eyes on Dixie, a rescued 7-year-old Shiba Inu mix, they knew she’d be coming home with them.
Ms. Weeks had read an article about the pup, who was flown to the United States after being rescued from the illegal dog meat trade in Thailand, and was touched by the dog’s ordeal.
“The story definitely spoke to her,” Mr. Gillis said this week. “She definitely had her eye on her.”
So when the couple finally met Dixie in person during Kent Animal Shelter’s annual Wines & Canines fundraiser event in Calverton on Sept. 25, it was only a matter of time.
“Over the next week, it was clear that we needed to bring her home,” Mr. Gillis said, noting that couple had already adopted another rescue, Kimmo, from Kent.
After just a week in her new home, Dixie had already found a favorite place to curl up next to Ms. Weeks.
“I can’t imagine what she went through before,” said Mr. Gillis, an assistant biology professor at SUNY/Old Westbury. “She was definitely not used to being inside, so she’s happy just to be sitting on the couch.”
Dixie arrived at the Calverton shelter last month through cooperation with Soi Dog Foundation, an international volunteer group that works to free animals from the illegal dog meat trade. After she was rescued from the street, Dixie was treated for any medical issues and brought to a Thai facility to be cared for.
The pup was one of 10 that were flown into John F. Kennedy International Airport to be distributed to animal rescue groups across the area.
“Instead of being brutally butchered in the Asian dog meat trade, she is now safe and sound in a loving home,” said Pamela Green, executive director of Kent Animal Shelter. “I hope Dixie’s story shows that animals need and deserve better, that anything’s possible when we reach out a helping hand.”
The couple said Dixie was skittish in her cage when they returned earlier this month to see her again. But once she was outside on her leash, the rescued pup perked up, Mr. Gillis said.
“She’s got a beautiful smile when she’s happy,” he said. Most important, Dixie and Kimmo quickly became friends.
“They’re getting along great,” he said. “He likes to play with other dogs a lot but she’s very relaxed.”
Since bringing Dixie home, Ms. Weeks and Mr. Gillis have taken her on walks and tried to help her get acclimated to her new home. This past holiday weekend they took her to a local dog park, even in the rain.
The event where Dixie and her new owners met last month was a “huge success” for Kent, according to Ms. Green, pulling in more than double the previous record amount of donations and turning out more than 200 people to walk with their four-legged friends.
In total, more than $29,000 was donated to the shelter.
Ms. Green credited crowdfunding efforts, event sponsors, auctions and prize drawings and the donations of supporters for the boost in fundraising.
Kent will use that money to continue its mission, which includes fostering Joy and Lou, two other Soi Dog Foundation animals rescued from Thailand.
Photo caption: Dixie, a Shiba Inu mix that was rescued from Thailand’s illegal dog meat trade, snuggles with her new owner, Jessica Weeks of Patchogue. The pup was adopted earlier this month from Kent Animal Shelter in Calverton. (Courtesy photo)