Animal Rescue Sofia: Saving them all

Written by on May 12, 2017 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Animal Rescue Sofia: Saving them all

Note: This article was previously published by F&F Magazine, which is now part of The Sofia Globe.

When Stella looks at the construction workers installing water pipes in the blistering heat, she is in heaven. Finally, after years without running water, Animal Rescue found a company which would give them exactly that, for free. Stella is one of three full-time volunteers at this huge dog shelter. She has been for years. Her 253 dogs, plus a few goats and cats, are very thankful. So are thousands of dog lovers all across Europe, who have adopted dogs from her vicinity.

Running a charity organization in the poorest E.U. country, Bulgaria, is far from easy. A few local donors cover part of the dog food. At times, they bring blankets. There are a few veterinarians, who enter the modest practice they have on site. They neuter the dogs, give them vaccinations and treat skin diseases. In some cases, they even have to deal with psychological issues. One poor dog in the shelter kept on eating its own paws. They found out she is schizophrenic and actually started giving her psychotropic drugs, with considerable success.

Many of the dogs bark like hell, when visitors enter the compound. A small minority among them would just look at those two-legged strangers. Some would become really angry, but lots more are wagging their tails, in successful attempts to make a good impression on people who might want to adopt them. There are some fifty cages, large enough to fit up to 15 dogs each. In some of them, there are only four to six dogs, since some would not get along with more of them. Only one inmate, a poor little Cocker Spaniel, who was most likely abused in the past, needs his own cage, since he kept on biting absolutely everyone.

Animal Rescue’s Stella, doing a great job. Photo by Imanuel Marcus.

Behind one of the sheds, which houses Animal Rescue’s office, we were taken to the puppy section. Who would not want to take all of them home? Sweetness as far as the eye can see. One of those kennels is reserved for larger puppies, the other ones harbor the tiniest ones.

Stella tells us that Animal Rescue has found new homes for well over 4,000 dogs since its foundation. Only 800 of them were adopted in Bulgaria, while far more than 3,000 were sent to families in western Europe. Within a few weeks, another 12 dogs will be sent to Austria. Who will pay for the transport? Animal shelter will, with funds they actually do not have. “At least they will have a home”, says Stella. Her problem: She needs to situate another 187 dogs, who are waiting with families, temporary caretakers, unable to keep them for much longer. Within Bulgaria, expats are the ones who adopt most dogs, rather than Bulgarian nationals. But Bulgarian volunteers come along on a regular basis, to play with the dogs and to walk them around.

The kennel in January of 2017. Photo by Animal Rescue Sofia.

All dogs assembled here, in the village of Dolni Bogrov, 10 kilometers from Sofia, have names. There is Bucky, who does not stop barking, there are Hänsel and Gretel, two cute siblings, and 250 more dogs with names, one cuter than the other. Every one of them deserves love and a decent home.

Stella, who spends most of her time at Animal Rescue, working like a dog, does not receive any salary. Not a dime. “My husband works”, she says, signalling that this is the least of her problems. What Animal Rescue Sofia needs, is money. For food, medication, transport and lots of items. Also, they need dog lovers who will adopt more four-legged inmates. The adoption procedure involves going to visit the dog of choice three times. That way, the organization verifies the person actually wants a dog. Also, they interview everyone, in order to make sure the animals will be treated well.

Photo at top of page by Imanuel Marcus

The shelter:

Animal Rescue Sofia’s website can be found here.

Donations can be made directly or by sending one or more SMS to 17 777 (send “DMS DOG”, from within Bulgaria, 1 Lev per SMS for Mtel, Telenor or Vivacom customers, 1.20 Leva for users of pre-paid phone cards).

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About the Author

Imanuel Marcus is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe. He is German and lives in Sofia. Contact: imanuelmarcus (at) gmail.com