Salty dog drama: Ship stranded at sea for days because port won't accept puppies saved by crew

Salty dog drama: Ship stranded at sea for days because port won't accept puppies saved by crew
A love of animals has kept the crew of a Russian fishing ship stranded outside a Far Eastern port for days. Having saved a pregnant dog from the sea, they were told by the Coast Guard to ditch her offspring before they can moor.

The three puppies were born to a dog rescued by the sailors of the Mekhanik Romancha fishing vessel in November last year. The trawler was on its way to the South Korean port of Busan for repairs when the crew spotted a dog in the water, apparently left behind by another ship. After a successful rescue mission, the sailors discovered that the dog was pregnant. She died during labor, but her three puppies survived, and have since been living on the ship.

Mekhanik Romancha crew member, seaman Viktor Kucherionok, told RIA Vostok Media that the three whelps were examined by a veterinarian in Busan, given the required vaccines and papers and cleared to go. Doctors instructed the crew on how to take care of the animals, which they have been doing for six months now.

But the miracle rescue story failed to melt the cold, hard red tape ar the Russian port of Nakhodka. Going strictly by the book, the Coast Guard demanded that the puppies be sent back to South Korea since they lack the international dog passports and veterinary certificates necessary to bring an animal into Russia. Plus, there were three of them, and by Russian law, one person (their designated owner Kucheryonok, in this case) can only "import" two animals at a time. One way to sidestep the rules would be to place the dogs in quarantine, but the port lacks the necessary facilities.

The crew dug their heels in, refusing to send the dogs back, fearing they would be put down once they reached South Korea. A deadlock ensued, and the Mekhanik Romancha spent five days at sea outside the port, unable to moor without a permit.

But all's well that ends well, even if it does take some arm twisting: Kucheryonok brought his story to local TV, it was then picked up by national media and the port authorities caved in. On Thursday, the Mekhanik Romancha was allowed to dock on the condition that the puppies stay aboard until all the paperwork is cleared to let them ashore, a Coast Guard spokesman told RIA Novosti.

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