The West Bank Evacuees Have Arrived!

Nearly four months and 7,500 miles later, the dogs evacuated from the West Bank officially made it to New York! As our team eagerly waited on the tarmac for the plane doors to open, we could hardly contain our excitement. This mission has not been easy. We encountered challenge after challenge along the way. As soon as Lukas, a charming three-legged pup, was the first to step off the plane, we couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of relief. The sight of his wagging tail melted our hearts and brought tears of joy to our eyes. At that moment, knowing that we had finally brought these innocent animals to safety felt nothing short of a miracle — one made possible only through the unwavering support of our donors, partners, and volunteers.

It was an incredibly long journey for these dogs, from the West Bank to Tel Aviv, then to Liege, Belgium, before finally arriving in the United States. Understandably nervous and timid, their anxiety melted away at the sight of Maad Abu-Ghazalah, the founder of Daily Hugz, who had saved them from danger in the West Bank. Seeing a familiar face turned scared whimpers into tail wags and cuddles, assuring them of their newfound safety.

The team at The Ark at JFK and our dedicated staff and volunteers worked tirelessly into the night, unloading the dogs, conducting veterinary checks, and providing them with food, water, and affection. We couldn’t help but fall in love with every one of them.

After giving the dogs a day to rest, the mission picked up again at 5 AM on Sunday. Running on little sleep but lots of excitement, our team met back up at The Ark to help load 27 of the dogs onto a transport truck bound for Farmingdale Airport. A Race for Life plane waited to take them to their next destination. There, we handed off the dogs to the Race for Life team. With a crew comprised of two pilots, a veterinarian, a member of SPCA International, and a plane full of pups; the journey commenced. The initial stop was Michigan where DAWG eagerly awaited to welcome ten pups into their care.

After waving goodbye to these special dogs, Race for Life journeyed to Indiana, where Magnificent Mutts Rescue embraced eight pups into their care. It was especially cold and windy on the tarmac, but all you could see was the joy on everyone’s faces as the dogs were unloaded from the plane and into the Mag Mutts Rescuer van. Looking around, it was clear what an incredible team effort the entire mission had been.

The day’s final stop was Ohio, where Paws for Miles extended a warm welcome to 9 dogs, including Lukas, who had stolen hearts upon his arrival at JFK Airport. Saying goodbye to this extraordinary boy was hard. We quickly became so attached to him, but we knew he was heading to a fantastic home. Waiting on the tarmac, his new foster mom wasted no time embracing him, declaring him hers forever.

Three states and 27 dogs later, day one was complete, and the fantastic Race for Life team returned to New York to recharge.

The following morning, they set course for Wyoming, transporting 21 more dogs to their awaiting homes. Among them was John Ramer, Executive Director of Kindness Ranch, who had been a steadfast presence since their arrival at JFK Airport. Upon reaching Wyoming, the dogs found refuge at Kindness Ranch, an expansive sanctuary boasting 1,200 acres of land for them to run around. Ten dogs would remain at Kindness Ranch, while the remaining 11 would journey to the West Coast after getting some rest.

After getting sleep and cuddles at Kindness Ranch, the 11 dogs destined for the West Coast were entrusted to Wings of Rescue, a charitable organization dedicated to airlifting at-risk shelter pets to safety. From there, they were whisked away to Rocket Dog Rescue in California and Saving Great Animals in Washington, where new beginnings awaited.

Handling ground transport was Maad Abu-Ghazalah, who drove to Wilmington, North Carolina where he handed off 16 dogs to Two by Two Rescue, an Alabama-based partner, before embarking on a journey home with Jenan, Kareem, Tayba, and Fayrooz – the four dogs he would personally adopt.

It took almost four months to evacuate these precious animals from the West Bank, four days to transport them to partner rescues and foster homes, and hundreds of people to make this evacuation possible. We are eternally grateful to everyone who played a part in this rescue. We could not have done this alone. We want to say thank you to Fly Alliance for helping us secure the plane that brought the dogs to the US, to Wasseem Tahboub, the incredible veterinarian who was by the dogs’ side from the moment they left Daily Hugz until they reached our foster partners, to The Ark for going above and beyond caring for them once they arrived in New York, to RifRuf for providing harnesses, to Race for Life Rescue and Wings of Rescue for taking care of these pups in the air and getting them safely to their destinations, to DAWG, Mag Mutts Rescue, Paws for Miles, Kindness Ranch, Two by Two Rescue, Rocket Dog Rescue, and Saving Great Animals for so kindly agreeing to take in these pups and find them loving homes, and to you our supporters for generously donating to this mission. 

Last but certainly not least, we express our deepest appreciation to Maad Abu-Ghazalah, who initially rescued every one of these dogs – many of them stray and abuse victims. None of these dogs would be here today if it weren’t for him.

To all involved, you are heroes in the truest sense. Because of you, these animals are getting a chance at the life they rightfully deserve.

Now, it’s time to get ready for the next mission!

We invite those interested in adopting a West Bank dog to contact our shelter partners directly.

Shelter Partners: 

Detroit Animal Welfare Group (DAWG) – Michigan

Kindness Ranch – Wyoming

Mag Mutts Rescue – Illinois

Paws for Miles – Ohio

Rocket Dog Rescue – California

Saving Great Animals – Washington

Two by Two – Alabama