OUR LAST NEUTERING CAMPAIGN FOR 2022 – BANICHAN AREA, BULGARIA
We round up 2022 with one final neutering campaign in the Banichan region in October and November.
There will be many new patients, some of them in pain and suffering, who are waiting for our help; but some old friends, too, needing a friendly visit. In the next two weeks we are about to neuter animals brought to our clinic by kind strangers, we are going to visit homes with too many stray animals to be transported to us, and we are about to pick up calls for homeless cats and dogs. There are always a few surprises in store too, for which no one can prepare, but we always do our best. We are not alone; there are a number of volunteers and animal rights activists in the big area of Gotze Delchev region who are important helpers.
People from the region have started calling us long before we announce the dates of our next campaign. They are eager to book an appointment for the cats or dogs in their community. We even get calls from people as far away as 80 to 100 kilometers from Gotze Delchev town, which is the centre of the region. Evidently, our projects are gaining popularity in the area through word of mouth, one of the best ways to get more people involved in rural territories.
Moreover, it is the best feedback any organization like ours could hope for. Changing people’s habits happens through changing their minds and attitudes, and the enquiries we receive frequently these days speak volumes about the change that has taken place in the region thanks to our presence and work here.
Let us begin.
A youth group from Blagoevgrad town that takes care of some 50 dogs deliver our first patients to our clinic: another youth group, of puppies and adult dogs. Once they are neutered, their inspirational human friends are going to start looking for the dogs’ forever homes.
A volunteer is bringing a young female dog to our clinic for a checkup. She needs spaying too. She was abandoned in a nearby village and the man took her in, hoping to find her a new human who can look after her better. He would like to give her a good chance for adoption by making sure she is free of parasites, spayed, and in great health.
The beeline of humans bringing in their local canines to our clinic is steady; meanwhile, a mobile team is on its way out to do the outreach part of our work.
Gyultena, a local woman who keeps in touch with us, is expecting us in Gotze Delchev town. She devotes every spare minute she’s got to local stray animals.
Gyultena meets us in the center of town but then takes us to the outskirts. There are ‘pockets’ in there where stray dogs roam and live. It looks like a desolate area. Gyultena and other likeminded people have created an improvised shelter for the dogs and visit them regularly to check on them.
Oftentimes, as we travel from one point of work to another, we come across patients that are even ‘strayer’ than our regulars. That is the case with the shy and sweet female dog we encounter on the side of the road. She relies on the mercy of vegetable producers who stop by the side of the road too, to sell their produce. But cold days promise nothing good for our new acquaintance. Thankfully, she is the trusting kind and calmly agrees to come with us.
Again, by pure accident, we pass by one of those places that seem forgotten by both people and deities. A poor man has made a home for himself and some companions in the ruins of an abandoned house. Three dogs stay around him and he does his best to look after them. Resources are scarce. Happy that he will not have to worry about feeding their offspring too, the man takes them to our vehicle himself. It is natural that some dogs are more easily intimidated by change of routine and new people so not all of them come with us with a spring in their step but we treat them all with kindness and put their anxiety to rest.
There are small plants and factories all over Gotze Delchev territory. Their owners or some of the workers take under their protection abandoned puppies. Soon, they have new adult dog friends in need of neutering so we get calls to visit those places too.
Aside from remote locations, we often get signals for stray dogs living in the heart of town. Many of them are used to the flow of strangers around them and come with us without any resistance. We don’t mind taking as much time as it is necessary to gain the trust of an animal, but with many patients on the waiting list, it makes our job easier to have them come with us quickly.
But their brothers and sisters who live in the abandoned farms in the outskirts are tough customers. They hardly spend any time around people and naturally feel mistrust. Such as the mother whose many puppies are probably underfed. Animals like this require a lot of patience, and we sometimes return to their habitat regularly until we establish a connection.
We always return the neutered dogs to the spot where we picked them up.
It is particularly important to us to help people who look after many cats, sometimes in the dozens. Kind-hearted people who take in abandoned kittens but over time begin to struggle with offering their furry friends adequate care, not to mention with the ever growing cat population in their back yard. This man’s story is very similar to Nadia’s, of whom we have already told you.
We are proud to say we managed to neuter and spay all adult cats. We stay in touch and are definitely coming back to take care of the kittens once they reach adult age.
We always try to help, but a happy end is not always possible.
It breaks our hearts but all our efforts to save the cold and hungry little kitten, abandoned by its mother, come too late. It was left to fend for itself on its own for too long. Farewell, little friend, and to a better place.
We admit to our clinic two youngsters, brought to us by Gyultena. They both have parvovirus, also called CPV. CPV is a common, highly contagious virus mainly affecting dogs. It attacks their stomachs and bowels first; the following infections are the result of the dog’s weakened immune system. The mortality rate is very high among untreated dogs, so the two friends Gyultena brought to us at least have a fighting chance.
After a week of hospitalization and round the clock medical care, it is with heavy hearts we bid goodbye forever to one of the little boys who didn’t manage to pull through.
Our second goodbye is happy and relieved – the other youngster leaves the clinic through the front door with a wagging tail. The treatment has worked and he is healthy.
We come across a young dog as we drive around one of the villages. Locals tell us someone leaves food out for him but he obviously isn’t being treated. He has a terrible case of demodicosis. Demodicosis is a disease caused by parasitic mites that live within the hair follicles as normal commensal habitant of canine skin, usually without causing problems. In some young dogs, however, predisposing factors such as endoparasitism, poor nutrition, stress and undeveloped immune competent system can lead to demodectic overgrowth. The result is at the very least a bad case of inflammation in localized areas and certainly presents a very sad picture, as is the case with our young new friend.
Even though every single dog is unique and special to us, many of their stories are sadly similar. Stefan – the name we give our new friend – reminds us of Strupilina, whose story we already told you. Stefan, too, will stay with us in Banichan where he is going to receive good treatment and care. We are hopeful to find a home for him, once all signs of illness are gone and we are sure he is completely healthy.
Do you remember our old friend, Bihlyu? We might be working hard but we are not so busy as to forget about him. We stop by to check on him and catch him on his regular afternoon walk, doing his perimeter check of the ranch where he lives. He seems in great shape for his ripe old age – though he keeps the exact number a strict secret and no one can tell just how old he really is.