Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 favorite, back by popular demand. It was originally posted on March 8, 2013. Enjoy!
Native Bulgarian Antoni Banev was driving through traffic in the city of Sofia recently when he heard the sound, the familiar yelp of another street dog being mowed over by someone in too much of a hurry to slow down and too short on compassion to turn back. One car after another drove over or around the dog left lying in the road, but Antoni is wired differently. He dashed out of his still-running car and knelt on the ground to help the injured dog. Not knowing if he’d be bitten or if there was any hope for this poor creature, Antoni did the only thing his conscience would allow. He carefully laid the dog down in his car and hurried to the veterinary office for help.
Through the thick air in the small examination room, the veterinarian cautioned Antoni that he wasn’t sure there was a strong chance of recovery. And even if surgery could save the dog, who would pay the $400 up front? Antoni did not have $400, but he wasn’t about to let that stop him.
Back at home, Antoni sat in front of his computer and began reaching out to every social networking site he could find. He was sure that someone would help, if only he could make the right connection.
“When I first saw Antoni’s pleas, I knew I had to help,” said Jayne Jones of K9 Rescue Bulgaria. “I could see by the photos of Lucky’s broken little body that he was very seriously injured, yet the look in his eyes was pleading for help. I could not and would not ignore him.”
Jayne, together with online friends, raised the $400 that night and the dog, now named Lucky, gently closed his eyes on the surgery table.
There was a little flutter of excitement surrounding Lucky as he pulled through that first operation better than expected. Lucky’s story began to make its way to a larger and larger body of animal lovers, and before long, the next $1,000 was raised for the orthopedic repairs on Lucky’s three broken legs, broken pelvis and fractured spine. And after a roller coaster of hopes and fears, including a life-threatening infection, rejection of his implants, something changed. Lucky came back to life, and he began to showcase a very special aspect of his individuality.
“We call him the ‘speaking dog,” said veterinarian Dr. Maria Savova of Nova Clinic in Sofia. “In the morning when we open the clinic, he is so happy to see us, that he just cries and whimpers with delight.”
As the day goes on, Lucky just keeps on talking. While he’s eating his wet food. While he’s eating his meat. While he’s palling around with his new best friend Millie. And sometimes in his sleep. Lucky simply likes to “talk.”
While some dogs are more prone to frequent vocalizations, there is speculation that Lucky’s stem from the relief that pours through his body these days. He no longer lives alone in the cold. He doesn’t suffer attacks by other street dogs. His bones are no longer broken. His back has healed. And, yes, he can now walk again. Though he had to literally get smashed on the ground to extinguish his old life, Lucky has pulled through and looks forward to the experience of becoming a family pet.
“We love him!” Dr. Savova continues. “He can walk without a leash outside. He does not try to run away. He’s quite happy to go back into the clinic after a walk. Lucky loves kids and is extremely clever. He wants to play with everyone and has the most amazing eyes – he looks at us like a human…more than a human.” (Visit K9 Bulgaria’s Facebook page)
Beginnings of Change for 70,000 of Lucky’s Fellow Street Dogs in Sofia
K9 Bulgaria is funding the purchase equipment to help disadvantaged animal shelters and to also fund veterinary training here. In the city of Sofia alone, there are an estimated 70,000 street dogs and the veterinary services available to rescue groups need vast improvement. Spay/neuter is often done poorly, resulting in some terrible deaths, and heartstick euthanasia is still taught in veterinary school. It comes down to a lack of veterinary training and zeroing in on that deficiency will make a monstrous mark on the well-being of generations of animals like Lucky.
This month, the Harmony Fund international animal rescue charity is raising funds to deliver a grant to K9 Bulgaria and to three other rescue teams here. So many Care2 readers have been reaching out to the animals of Bulgaria through this campaign and there’s a palpable feeling of excitement and anticipation from rescuers here who simply can’t get past the fact that so many people, some of them oceans away, care enough to help. To visit this empowering and joyful campaign to help the homeless dogs and cats in Bulgaria, click here.
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