Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 favorite. It was originally published on January 9, 2013. Enjoy!
Sometimes being different is a gift and for one little street puppy in Serbia, a single coat of blue paint became the difference between freezing to death in the snow and flying to the UK to begin a warm and wonderful new life.
A few weeks ago, the Harmony Fund international animal rescue charity came across a plea from a small group of volunteers known as Balkan Underdogs. They needed help and quickly.
“This boy needs a home urgently,” the group administrators explained. “He lives in Serbia, is six months old, neutered and vaccinated. Lovely natured dog. Some monsters decided to put paint on him which made his skin sore and itchy. He was caught by the dog catchers but the locals asked them not to kill him. So after he was neutered and vaccinated, he was put back on the streets. It is very cold and snowy here and he sleeps on the frozen pavement.”
It is difficult to know if the paint was thrown on the dog in an act of malice or if he became covered in blue while digging through garbage for food. Hunger for the dogs here is often satisfied by whatever remains they find in the trash, and sadly, that is often heaped together with a variety of toxic cleaners and industrial products. We’ll never know exactly how Babe turned blue, but there was a consensus that he needed a fresh start.
The Harmony Fund has made a donation to help in the transport of Babe to an animal sanctuary in Kent, England. Yet our biggest desire was that he not go alone. So we chose Babe the blue “Underdog” to become the mascot for a campaign to help street dogs and cats throughout the Balkans. In fact, we’ve already sent over funds to help Balkan Underdogs bring more dogs in from the cold in Babe’s honor.
“It was a beautiful surprise to receive your generous donation on Christmas morning of all days,” said Sandra, one of the founders of Balkan Underdogs. “My Serbian friends flood me with pictures of frozen puppies, abandoned in the snow and looking for a home. It is hard to stay strong. But we can save some and someone once told me that for every animal you save, for that little creature, you have changed the world. That’s what keeps me going and that’s why it means so much to us that other people believe in us to.”
The Harmony Fund hopes to surprise Balkan Underdogs with a second grant next week. Volunteers already feed as many as they can in the streets each day with giant sacks of kibble that they mix with bread and they make use of a free spay/neuter clinic. But what is missing are the funds to bring more dogs in out of the cold and to care for them at paid kennels until they can fly to the UK as part of an international adoption program.
Last month we were reviewing video footage of Babe just after he was released from the dog catcher’s facility. With faint blue paint residue on the back of his coat, he wimpered over and over again in a doorway, desperate for affection and care. Any animal lover would long to take his cold head in their warm hands and to assure him that everything will be OK. And today it is. Babe cries no more. His voice is a strong bark that exudes the confidence and energy of a dog who understands what it is to be loved. He will begin a new life with a new family soon and we aim to see many more receive the same miracle.