Riddick, the homeless dog, was on the brink of starvation. This poor dog had wandered the streets of Bulgaria for weeks, maybe even months, and the lack of proper care had taken a serious toll on his health. Riddick was all but a walking skeleton by the time he was reported by some caring and compassionate people, who stepped in to help him.

When the local animal shelter, Animal Friends Foundation Burgas, heard about the extremely malnourished dog, Miglena the founder of the shelter set out to find Riddick. He was very wary of humans and tried to avoid being rescued, but after several attempts, Miglena was able to bring Riddick to the shelter. If she had waited any longer to find this starving pup, it is likely that he would have not have made it.

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Can You Help this Struggling Foundation That's Saving Hundreds of Lives?

A Rough Beginning

Life on the streets had not been kind to this ailing dog. Miglena immediately brought him to the veterinary clinic, where Riddick underwent a series of blood samples and skin tests to determine the extent of his illness.

When the results came back, he was diagnosed with multiple skin diseases including scabies and fungi. He was given the necessary medication and his rescuer was told what to do, however, getting him to gain weight would be the key to a full recovery. He would have to eat high calorie foods in small doses, several times a day. Surely, after a life searching for scraps and barely surviving on what he could find, this would be a welcome change for Riddick.

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It seemed he’d been suffering with these skin diseases for quite a long time, but since he didn’t have a guardian to take care of him, it went untreated. As he hardly ate, his immune system had been severely suppressed making him virtually unable to fight off the skin disease, which contributed to its spread.

Can You Help this Struggling Foundation That's Saving Hundreds of Lives?

Steps Toward Recovery

Animal Friends Foundation Burgas is one of the only organizations in Bulgaria working to help end the country’s homeless pet epidemic. While the issue of pet homelessness and the importance of adoption has begun to gain prevalence in the U.S., in Bulgaria, there is still a huge lack of awareness and information surrounding street animals.

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Animal Friends Foundation Burgas is working to change this, but because they are largely leading the way on this front, they overwhelmed by the number of animals that are sent their way.

“Each month, the Foundation takes over between 25 and 40 dogs, and about 25 cats; but there are waiting animals in every single minute,” Miglena explains to One Green Planet. “It is extremely difficult for us to choose which ones to help, because more of the cases are urgent, endangered, or seriously sick animals.”

Despite not having room for Riddick at the shelter, Miglena took him in to her own home and fostered him. This dog needed her help and she wasn’t going to give up on him.

For the first few days, Riddick was completely traumatized. If anyone, other than Miglena, went close to him or tried to touch him, he’d scream. He was terrified of people and he was even more scared when a door opened. This unusual reaction to the sound of an opening door convinced Miglena that he had been abandoned at some point in his life. This explained why he refused to even go out for a walk, he was afraid of being thrown out again.

Although Riddick was fearful of people to begin with, he always remained loyal and trusting to Miglena. He followed her everywhere and it seemed he would always remember her for being the kind person who ended his pain.

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Riddick also struggled to eat in the beginning as his body was extremely thin and his stomach so small. Miglena would patiently sit with him and feed him from her hands. With the help of his rescuer, Riddick started to eat with ease and as the days went by and eating became less painful and more enjoyable.

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After much love, care and affection, Riddick healed. He regained a healthy appetite and his fear of abandonment began to fade. Today, he is a confident, brave and loving dog. Initially, his rescuer Miglena, planned on fostering him only until he could find a new home. But the connection between them could never be broken. She decided to adopt him and make him part of the family.

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Helping Others Like Riddick

Riddick is just one of many dogs who have benefitted thanks to the care and compassion of the people working at Animal Friends Foundation Burgas, but there are still countless other animals living on the streets in Bulgaria who desperately need their help.

The sad thing is, the majority of them are born hungry and die hungry. Some of them get beaten, run over, and abused. Others die from chronic diseases and their stories remain untold and unheard. The good news is that you can help save these dogs by making a contribution to Animal Friends Foundation Burgas. The shelter is hoping to expand their organization and open up a rescue center of their own to help accommodate all the animals in need.

“Our need for our own rescue center is desperately urgent,” explains Miglena, “Because of the lack of space, we often are not able to take in seriously ill animals that die soon after, as a result. Another reason, is that we need to provide elementary conditions for the animals we have (the need to separate animals with certain characteristics – babies, mothers with newborns, infectiously ill, etc.), and thus prevent spreading infections and other commonly spread diseases in Bulgaria.”

Many of the animals who come into the shelter suffer from a variety of diseases and ailments. It is Miglena’s hope to create a connecting veterinary center and ambulatory care clinic to allow the animals in their care to get the best medical attention possible as soon as they are admitted.

‘The need of such premises [rescue center] is additionally forced by the fact that we don’t have our own veterinarian cabinet, which makes the whole working process incredibly more difficult,” says Miglena. “The Rescue center would have its own veterinarian ambulatory, and would even give the chance for making trap, neuter and return campaigns. That would vastly reduce the financial weight of the Foundation.”

Adoption rates are low in Bulgaria, but the shelter aims to change this. By rescuing and rehabilitating animals, like Riddick, and telling their story, Animal Friends is changing public attitudes towards dogs and cats and encouraging more people to take interest in these wonderful animals. They are going even further by campaigning to humanely control homeless animal populations, acting as the animal welfare advocated that Bulgaria’s street animals have needed for far too long.

Miglena explains that the addition of the rescue center, “would close the circle of one very good working organizational system, and would save thousands of lives.”

You can help Miglena and the volunteers at Animal Friends Foundation Burgas reach this goal by making a donation here. You can follow the progress of their campaign and read the stories of other rescued animals by liking their Facebook page, here.

All image source: Animal Friends Foundation Burgas