Joan Sattler of Wellsboro is no stranger to welcoming those from other countries into her family.
“I have eight adopted kids – from Colombia, Nepal, Thailand, two from the Philippines and two from China,” she said, adding this may have been why two dogs rescued from China caught her eye.
Those dogs, Willy and Queen, were rescued at different times from the Beijing area by No Dogs Left Behind, a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving dogs from the illegal dog-meat trade in East Asia.
No Dogs Left Behind works with local activists to pull dogs directly from slaughterhouses, dog meat trucks, wet markets and traffickers.
Sattler said, “Even though it’s not something we would do, it’s hard to judge another country’s practices. In some areas, they eat cats or kangaroos. But in this case, it’s the way the dogs are treated. They’re abused, beaten and go through all kinds of trauma.”
A scar is visible on Willy’s back as he sprawls out on the living room rug at Sattler’s home along Pine Creek on Monday.
“That’s likely from being beaten or a cut from being stuffed in a crate,” she said. “He’s still a little sensitive in that area of his back.”
That old life is a far cry from the one Willy and Queen now live with Sattler. They follow her from room to room, curling up in dog beds by the kitchen, falling asleep under the coffee table and getting excited at the announcement of a walk.
Sattler said despite what they went through, Willy and Queen “are just the best dogs and so well-behaved and loving.”
Sattler said her dog adoption journey started a few years ago when she and her late husband, Amos “Tucker” Worthington, were living on Long Island, N.Y. Worthington, who was ill, convinced Sattler they should adopt a dog.
“We didn’t know what kind or from where, so I just started researching. That’s when I came across No Dogs Left Behind,” she said. “Their website said they rescued dogs from China, from around the same area where our two daughters are from.”
After researching the organization and receiving three personal home visits from No Dogs Left Behind’s founder, Jeff Beri, Sattler saw Willy’s pointed ears and sweet smile online and knew he was the one.
“What really sold me was when I saw a video of him being leash trained,” she said. “At one point, he looked back at the camera as if to make sure he was doing a good job. I knew he wanted someone to come for him.”
In November 2018, Willy made the 22-hour plane ride from Beijing to New York City, where Sattler and one of her sons picked him up.
Since then, Willy has adjusted to life as a companion. Sattler said he was fearful of men at first, and while he still barks at everyone who approaches his house, he doesn’t take long to warm up to new people.
“We have no idea what kind of dog he is. I’ve heard maybe some corgi but his face looks like a shiba inu,” said Sattler. “He means so much to me. I was so lucky to have him when Tucker died last year.”
Sattler said after losing Worthington, she felt Willy was getting lonely, so she set out to find him a friend. In March of this year, Queen arrived in the U.S. from one of No Dogs Left Behind’s shelters in China, nearly a year later than planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“She’s still adjusting, but she’s doing very well. They get along great. They’re almost the same dog,” said Sattler, adding that she’s thankful for programs like No Dogs Left Behind for giving dogs like Willy and Queen second chances.
Find more information about No Dogs Left Behind and see adoptable dogs at https://nodogsleftbehind.com/adopt.