O'Hare Airport

Rescue Group Won't Turn Over 15 French Bulldogs Found at O'Hare Airport Cargo Facility

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A Chicago animal rescue group is refusing to turn over for deportation 15 French Bulldog puppies that were found covered in feces and urine at a cargo facility near O'Hare International Airport last month.

“Out of ongoing concern by Chicago French Bulldog Rescue for the health and welfare of the 15 puppies rescued from a warehouse at O’Hare International Airport, I have informed all relevant agencies of the government and Royal Jordanian Airlines earlier today that the rescue will not be turning over the 15 French bulldog puppies to anyone tomorrow," R. Tamara de Silva said in a statement the Chicago French Bulldog Rescue posted on its Facebook page Sunday night.

The rescue organization said in a statement last week that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was "demanding" that it return the bulldogs by Monday to the O'Hare warehouse where they were discovered late last month.

Chicago police said officers were dispatched to an animal abuse incident on Aug. 31 and found the puppies locked in small cages, with one of the animals dying before it could be rescued.

The shipment of 20 dogs was denied entry into the U.S. on Aug. 28 due to fraudulent paperwork, and the dogs were subsequently taken to an air cargo facility under the care of Royal Jordanian Air, a statement from the CDC read.

Mary Scheffke of Chicago French Bulldog Rescue said the puppies should have been immediately sent back on the plane after the CDC realized they did not include the proper records.

“If it hadn’t been for the Good Samaritan that approached the police to make the aware of the situation, how many days would those dogs have sat at that warehouse?  Nobody was proactive,” Scheffke said.

Chicago police said the company responsible for the shipment was issued two citations, including one citation for 17 counts of animal neglect and one citation for animal neglect which may have contributed to the death of a canine.

Scheffke’s group was asked to help, and they subsequently sent the puppies to area veterinarians. The puppies remain in isolation, but Scheffke says the CDC is now demanding the return of the puppies.

“We don’t know if they’ll survive this whole ordeal again,” Scheffke said.

“You don’t have to ship them back on a plane, where they would probably face death and certainly an uncertain future, when they clearly need love and care,” Rep. Mike Quigley added.

Quigley says he is working on a solution that addresses health concerns raised by the CDC, while ensuring that the dogs remain safe. He also wants to prevent a similar incident from occurring again.

“If dogs slip through like this again, they should be picked up and brought to a responsible place for quarantine and care,” he said. “So we want to shut the spigot off. We’re going to make sure no dogs suffer like this again.”

A petition that demands that the CDC allow the dogs to stay in the United States and be surrendered to Chicago French Bulldog Rescue has more than 70,000 signatures as of Monday morning.

The CDC released the following statement to NBC 5 on Friday:

Dogs that are imported into the United States must be vaccinated against rabies at 12 weeks of age or older and must wait 28 days after initial vaccination before entering the country. Dogs coming from countries and political units with a high risk of rabies need a valid rabies vaccination certificate.

On August 30, 2020, the warehouse facility at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport notified CDC about the death of a male dog under the care of Royal Jordanian Air. This dog was part of a shipment of 20 dogs that had been denied entry to the US on August 28, 2020, due to fraudulent paperwork. Dogs had been evaluated to be significantly younger than the ages listed on their rabies vaccination certificates.  The deceased dog was tested at a Chicago facility for rabies and was negative. The remaining dogs were transported to local kennel facilities for assessment, care, and continued monitoring. They are in good health and fit to travel back to their country of origin, consistent with US regulations.

The US Department of Agriculture requires dogs be housed in accordance with Animal Welfare Act standards. CDC reiterated these requirements to the airline on August 28, 2020; however, the airline failed to transport the dogs from the airport warehouse to an appropriate animal care facility, such as a kennel or veterinary clinic, until August 30.

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