By Karli Barnett

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Twenty rescued golden retrievers met their forever families Sunday.

The dogs had a long journey all the way from China, where they were saved from a meat market.

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Thanks to Golden Rescue South Florida, these pups have their first place to call home and a second chance at life. It was a lengthy process, and, for many, an emotional time.

“Thank God,” said Patrick McGrath, fighting back the tears.

He was one of the people bringing a golden retriever home.

“We got her. She will have a life,” he said.

“Currently in China, they’re for meat consumption,” said rescue coordinator Kristine Minerva. “They eat the dogs for meat, so this has been a rescue six months in the making.”

Minerva said it required medical testing, examinations for the dogs, and getting them through customs. Due to the pandemic, they could not do their usual fundraiser, but they still managed to raise the $60,000 it took to get the dogs here.

They needed people with a little extra love to give.

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“These dogs have been through traumatic experiences, so some of them really don’t know how to act like a dog,” Minerva explained. “So it’s going to take a lot of patience, a lot of training and a lot of determination to get the dog to that golden breed and that golden demeanor, which we know that they all can be.”

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Katie Brown and Jon Knitter were up to the challenge.

“This is what rescue is all about,” Brown said. “Taking the time to give the unconditional love to animals that they give to us.”

“They need a second chance,” said fellow adopter Hunter Hazelton.

Once the dogs received a check-up, a quick bath, and some snacks, they were ready to go home. As Brown pointed out, it was well worth the wait.

“This is the happiest day in 2020 for me,” Brown said. “ We’ve been on such a long journey and to have her here is incredible. It makes our year.”

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Local businesses donated bags with food and other supplies. All twenty families who brought home a dog had previously gone through home inspections from Golden Rescue South Florida and were required to fill out a questionnaire.

Karli Barnett