As you can well imagine, we receive numerous emails and requests for help each week. However, due to the sheer number of stray and abandoned dogs in Bulgaria, we have made the decision to only work locally within the Stara Zagora and Kazanlak and Chirpan region and as we are not a shelter, due to the regulations and restrictions for setting up shelters here and we we live close to the centre of a village, we can only personally take in and foster a few dogs at a time in our home.
In the past we have helped when asked to with dogs that were in towns and cities hundreds of kilometres away from us, we have had to organise for someone to take the dog to a vet clinic not known to us, arrange and pay for transport, sometimes pay for kennelling until the dog could come to us and then often when the dog has finally arrived at us, we have been left with a huge vet bill, the vet treatment has often then been disputed by our vet and so funds have been wasted on inappropriate vet care, petrol, temporary kennelling etc, when what should have happened, is a rescue or organisation more local to the dog, should have stepped up and helped. This is why we feel strongly that organisations and rescues should work within their own local regions to combat the stray dog problem.
We have also opted to concentrate on helping the municipality shelter at Kazanlak as much as we can and taking the worse cases out of there. This is the shelter most local to us and where we feel we can make a difference. We are also now looking to do far more neutering in the local region and to work with locals to improve the lives of chained and village dogs, so they at least get basic medical care, some form of shelter and decent food.
We have therefore put this page together to try and help anyone who either lives here or is on holiday here and finds a stray or injured dog. Please use the drop down menu above to find the list of rescues, shelters and organisations now operating in Bulgaria and who you can contact if you find an injured or stray dog. We will add to this and amend it as required.
Of course if the dog is in the Stara Zagora, Chirpan or Kazanlak area, feel free to contact us and we will help if we can. You might find it useful to read the information below.
WHAT TO DO?
If you have come across a stray or abandoned dog either in a village or town here in Bulgaria, it is firstly important to gauge the situation. There are many stray dogs here that live perfectly happily on the street, are not in immediate danger and are sourcing enough food. For example in towns and cities, many of the ‘street’ dogs live outside restaurants and shops, are given scraps and are known to locals. Unless obviously injured or starving, these dogs are best left where they are. These dogs are usually tagged by the municipality as having been neutered. If you are on holiday PLEASE do not take one of these dogs back to your holiday home unless that is to be a permanent situation. If these dogs are removed from their territory another dog will take over so it cannot return and many of these dogs are not used to living in confined spaces, either in a yard or a house and will panic, be destructive and become very stressed.
It is not unusual for dogs to be dumped in the middle of no-where or on the side of a road. Often these dogs may have been pets and so they are used to human contact, they will remain in the same place for days, waiting for their owner to come back and get them. These dogs are unlikely to adapt well to life on the streets and will struggle to survive.
Due to a lack of coherent neutering campaigns by municipalities and ingrained attitudes against neutering, there are hundreds of unwanted puppies born to chain dogs, owned dogs and street dogs. Many are dumped callously in bins, in forests, in fields or on the side of the road. If Mum is around and the puppies are very young, then unless Mum can be caught and the whole family moved to a place of safety, it is best to leave the puppies with Mum (unless in immediate danger) and feed mum regularly.
If you come across an injured dog, please (providing you can approach and handle the dog safely) take the dog to your nearest vet clinic for treatment (or euthanasia if it is gravely injured).
If you are not personally able to keep the dog then please contact one of the rescues or organisations local to where the dog has been found. If you are able to, please treat for flea’s, ticks and worms (costs just a few levs for flea and tick powder and a wormer) and provide a safe and secure place for the dog to stay, while an alternative place is sort. If you are able to, please consider keeping the dog, even if it just until a new home can be found. You can post details of the dog and ask for help with re-homing on this Facebook group. It is a great advantage if the dog can be vaccinated and castrated prior to being put up for adoption – see below.
But PLEASE do try and do what you can and not just hope others will come along and take over the responsibility. All rescues and organisations here are over-whelmed, struggling with huge vet bills, lack of foster places and kennelling.
When dogs have been severely starved, sudden access to large amounts of food can cause them to become very sick and even lead to death. Basically the dog’s body has adapted to try and survive off very little food. If the body is then gorged with food, the metabolic pathways cannot cope and you get electrolyte and fluid imbalances, which can lead to organ failure. Or in less extreme cases the dog suffers diarrhoea and vomiting, neither of which is helpful for an undernourished dog. You need to feed in small portions and often and support with multi-vitamins and work the dog up slowly to normal portions, maybe over a period of a week or two.
Also keep in mind that various conditions and diseases can cause dogs to become severely underweight. The most common is a bad infestation with worms, so please make sure you worm any dog you find.
Dogs With Mange
It is very common to come across dogs here with ‘mange’. This often shows as bald red patches of skin, sometime open wounds where they have been scratching and itching. Demodectic is very common in puppies or young dogs, who pick up the mites from their mother and due to a compromised immune system and lack of healthy diet, cannot over-come the problem naturally and become infested, causing itching, fur loss and can lead to secondary infections. All dogs carry these mites to some extent but if they are healthy happy dogs the mites do not cause a problem. Dogs susceptible to demodectic mange are also thought to carry some genetic component making them more likely to succumb to the mite infestation. Demodectic mange can be localised and only show in small patches, most often around the eyes and on the legs or can be generalised and occur all over the body.
Sarcopic mange is caused by a different type of mite, the Sarcoptes scabiei mite and causes the dog to be extremely itchy, leading to severe scratching, hair loss and redness of the skin and lesions. Sarcopic mange is contagious between dogs so if it is suspected the dog should be isolated from other dogs. It can also be passed to humans and cause symptoms similar to eczema. Many Bulgarians will not go near these dogs and believe them to be dangerous to humans. And while the mites can cause some redness and minor irritation in humans, it is nothing serious. Dogs will require anti-parasitic dips and possibly further treatment.
Ideally a dog with suspected mange should be taken to the vet for a skin scraping test to check which type of mange the dog has. For localised cases of demodectic mange often bathing in medicated benzoal peroxide shampoo (B-Perox or Peroxiderm shampoo is only around 14 levs for a bottle) a few times, a good diet and mineral and vitamin supplements are all that is needed to get on top of the infestation and build up the immune system so the dog can fight off the mites itself. If the case is more severe then Bravecto tablets can be given monthly until no sign of mange mites and fur grows back.
If you are unable to immediately get the dog to a vet or buy any of the peroxide shampoo, an effective and cheap home remedy is lemon and garlic wash. Slice up a lemon or two and put in some boiling water with a few gloves of garlic. Cover and leave overnight and then the next day give the dog a good wash down with it. You can also take some iodine solution and mix with warm water so it looks like tea and then wash all over with this.
Tick Borne Disease
Many street dogs are diagnosed with one of the various common tick borne diseases that are rife here in Bulgaria. If possible please take the dog to the vet for a 4D test. This checks if the dog has heartworm disease, ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, and anaplasmosis, although heart worm will not tend to show if the dog is under 6 months and can still incubate even if a negative test is given. Both ehrlichiosis and anaplasmosis are easily treated with cheap antibiotics if caught at an early stage, but if they go undetected and un-treated can lead to extreme anaemia, and especially with ehrlichiosis cause the destruction of the bone marrow and red blood cells and lead to death. Dogs can show no signs of these diseases until it reaches a chronic and very difficult stage to treat and often results in sudden death. Heart worm is also another big problem here in Bulgaria and can potentially kill dogs if not caught early enough and treated.
Ensuring there are less unwanted puppies is absolutely vital so please do your best to get any stray dog you find neutered as soon as the dog is fit and healthy enough to be castrated or spayed. There are many places in Bulgaria now offering a free or discounted neutering service for stray and village dogs. Please see the list of places where you can take advantage of this here.
If you come across puppies, it is vitally important they are vaccinated as soon as possible. The usual schedule of vaccinations is shown below, this will give them a fighting chance against succumbing to various diseases, especially if you cannot keep them and they are to go to a shelter. Adult dogs will also benefit from being vaccinated against the most common diseases (unless sick or old or otherwise immunological compromised).
|Vaccination Scheme||At 6 weeks to 8 weeks||At 8 to 10 weeks||At 12 to 14 weeks|
|Very young pup – If dog is found as a very young pup (6 weeks or under and healthy)||Vaccination for Parvo||DHPPi + lepto||DHPPi + lepto + rabies|
|If dog is a little older (8 to 9 weeks) or cannot be vaccinated earlier due to ill health||N/A||DHPPi + lepto||DHPPi + lepto + rabies|
|Older dog – 3 months or older when vaccinations begin||N/A||N/A||DHPPi + lepto + rabies|
Compared to say the UK it is very cheap to microchip, passport and vaccinated a dog here. Costs will vary from vet to vet and region to region but generally, a microchip is around 15 levs, a passport around 5 to 10 levs, rabies vaccination around 15 levs, DHPPi combined vaccination around 15 to 20 levs.