AN animal-loving couple has spent over £9,000 on flying rescued dogs and cats from America to their new Highland home overlooking Loch Ness.
Rebecca Knowles, who is originally from Aberdeen, and her husband Vishnu, flew the 15 dogs and two cats from New Mexico to Scotland.
Mrs Knowles, who has decided to return home after 17 years in the US, had run a small animal sanctuary and said she could not bear leaving her beloved pets behind.
She had rescued the animals from the streets and a farm where they were kept in cages and bred.
The mental health counsellor feared they would be sent to rescue homes or even put down, adding: “I had a small rescue sanctuary which was mostly retired breeding dogs I rescued from a puppy mill that was closing down. The dogs were going to be euthanised so I rescued them.
“I had 40 dogs at one point, half were from the puppy mill and the rest were strays I’d rescued and pets my clients couldn’t look after anymore.”
Rebecca decided to move back to the UK with her husband last year, after 17 years in America.
They managed to re-home most of the animals but a few were returned, leaving the couple no choice but to care for them.
It took more than 24 hours to fly over the pets, which included poodles, a boxer and two cats.
Rebecca said: “It’s cost us around $15,000 (about £9,000). In my view animal lives are just as important as human lives.
“People were saying: ‘Why don’t you put them in a shelter?’ but I had rescued them from a horrible situation where they had been in cages all their lives.
“It was worth the expense to keep them with me.
“They are doing really well and love the space we have here.”
The couple have successfully raised £70 through an online appeal to help with the cost of relocating the poor pets.
They welcome further support from animal charities and would even consider allowing some of the animals to be re-homed to nice families if given an offer.
She added: “I’m not going to do any more rescuing.
“I’d be interested in finding homes for them over here and anybody interested in providing one can get in touch.
“Out there people have a very different view of animals and pet owning.
“It’s pretty much a third world country with stray dogs in the streets.
“I feel British people have a better concept of caring for animals. You rarely see dogs roaming the streets whereas in New Mexico it was normal to see strays with their bones sticking out.”