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'Mission Impawsible' reunites Vancouverites with dogs they had to leave behind in China

COVID-19 has kept Canadians apart from their pets for months. But a Vancouver couple has chartered a flight from Shanghai to bring them home - and your donations can help.

A Vancouver couple due to return home after two years in China were faced with the heartbreaking prospect of leaving their beloved rescue dog Sugar behind due to COVID-19 flight restrictions, and they soon realized they weren't alone.

With the pandemic shutting down cities and airports, hundreds of Canadians had their flights cancelled and as the few Chinese airlines that were flying to North America were not taking pets, many were forced to leave their pups behind. Desperate to reunite families with their pets, 'Mission Impawsible' was born, and a chartered flight from Shanghai was booked to bring these fur-babies home to Vancouver and Seattle on July 18 - but they need your help to make sure this flight takes off.

Mission Impawsible Vancouver project

As of July 13, the Mission Impawsible group is bringing just over 155 people and 115 dogs and cats home to North America on Saturday, July 18. Through ticket sales and donations, they have raised a total of $47,350 US dollars; however, they are still $15,000 short of what they need to break-even and are asking for donations through their GoFundMe page.

"Any donations, big or small, or social media shares are so important as we're helping reunite family members, whether they have two legs or four, that have been separated for months," explains Kyla Robertson, one of the dozens of group members working tirelessly to make this mission a success. "I know there is a lot going on in the world right now, but helping bring these pets home is bringing a lot of positivity to many families' lives!"

Kyla was very excited to return to her hometown of Vancouver in June with her husband Travis and rescue terrier-mix Sugar, but the family were left stranded after flights were cancelled three times due to COVID-19.

"I went to the Philippines for Chinese New Year holidays on January 17, before COVID even had a name, and was originally only supposed to stay abroad for two weeks," explains Kyla.

"However, when it started spreading throughout China we ended up being stranded abroad for 7 weeks. We came back to China, instead of Canada, as we had to go back for Sugar."

It was a similar story for many Canadians and Americans who went home for Chinese New Year holidays and now, due to border restrictions, are unable to return to China to retrieve their furry best friends who remain in the care of either boarding facilities or acquaintances.

Although all pet spots are taken, there are still around 20 spots left on the plane for Canadians or Americans who are struggling to get home from China - and the Mission Impawsible team are asking for people to spread the word to help them reach anyone in similar situations.

Despite enjoying her two years living in China, Kyla agrees that there is no place like home, and can't wait to return to Vancouver this weekend.

"I am most looking forward to taking Sugar to the wonderful off-leash dog parks in Vancouver. Mostly, Spanish Banks and Pacific Spirit Park." Kyla tells PawSwap.

"It's been a whirlwind and definitely never in my wildest dreams did I think that creating a WeChat group was going to lead me here six weeks later," admits Kyla. "Chartering a flight across the ocean for my dog!"

Kyla's rescue pup Sugar in his hometown of Vancouver
Kyla's rescue pup Sugar in his hometown of Vancouver (Instagram: @sugsthepup)

If you'd like to help these families reunite and make sure this flight takes off, you can donate here.

Thanks to the generosity of the pet community, this mission may not be impossible after all.



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