Three dozen abandoned golden retrievers made the long trek from the streets of Istanbul, Turkey, to an Atlanta suburb this week thanks to the efforts of an animal rescue group.

The dogs were discovered by an American living in Turkey, who said she saw them living on the streets and taking over shelters. The breed was once considered a status symbol, but as the dogs became more prolific, their popularity waned and the pets were quick to be discarded. On the harsh streets of Istanbul, the gentle dogs didn't fare well against vicious feral dogs.

Adopt a Golden Atlanta arranged for 36 of the dogs to be flown to the U.S. where they're now housed at the Pet Lodge Pet Resort in Alpharetta, an Atlanta suburb. They've been given medical attention, baths and lots of playtime. Although they don't yet understand English commands, volunteers say they seem happy with all the attention — wagging tails all around.

The goldens made a 12-hour flight and seven-hour layover to get to their new home. They range in age from 6 months to 10 years.

The pups should be available for adoption in a few weeks, and they already have names, says Adopt a Golden founder Lauren Genkinger, who spearheaded the rescue effort.

"They're the freedom dogs and all of them have been given names, Freedom, Patriot, Liberty, Glory..." Genkinger told WXIA TV in the video above. "It wasn't easy coming up with 36 patriotic names. The only thing missing from this story ... is someone to call America in from the yard ... to dinner."

a golden retriever is examined in Atlanta after making the trip from Turkey

A golden retriever is examined in Atlanta after arriving from Turkey. (Photo: Adopt a Golden Atlanta)Related on MNN:

Mary Jo DiLonardo covers a wide range of topics focused on nature, health, science and anything that helps make the world a better place.

36 golden retrievers rescued from streets of Turkey
The largest international golden rescue ever means baths, playtime and new homes for happy dogs.