How We Started & The twitchynoses journey
This page is about the charity and the people behind it. TwitchyNoses came about because of a desire to help more homeless and injured dogs in Bulgaria and to do their bit in a country that has a terrible stray dog problem and where animals are abused and mistreated on a daily basis.
The charity was the idea of Rachel, who originally moved to Bulgaria in 2006. Immediately upon arriving she was adopted by an old dog and two cats that had been left at the villa Rachel had bought and was renovating. Not long after this a heavily pregnant Border Collie turned up at another building plot Rachel owned and made one of the old barns into her home and had 4 puppies. At only a few weeks old, one of the puppies was poisoned by something toxic on the building site and was rushed to the veterinary university for treatment. Luckily she recovered but Rachel decided it was best for all 4 pups and Mum to join her at the place she was living. In the meantime Rachel had also taken in another 5 month old puppy (Clio) found starving and badly beaten in a field. Unfortunately a few months after moving over, the old dog had to be put down as had been badly injured in several fights with other village dogs. When Rachel moved to her new house, the 6 dogs and 2 cats went with her. Two of the border collie pups were eventually taken to the Burgas municipality shelter for re-homing.
In the middle of January 2008, when it was snowy and minus 20, Rachel found a tiny puppy (Bobby) on the side of the road late at night. She took it in and soon it was growing into a massive dog, a part Karakachan (local sheep dog breed). One day not too long after, Rachel found a tiny emaciated kitten hiding under the car in her local town and this ended up going home with her. A few days later a very young kitten was thrown over her wall and that also became part of the ever-growing family.
Then in January 2009 Rachel decided to go and work a ski season in France. She took one dog with her and managed to re-home the Karakachan puppy and the two kittens to an English family in the north of Bulgaria. Rachel arranged for a Scottish couple to house sit and pet sit. Unfortunately this was a mitigated disaster and she returned to find her home had been damaged and one of the dogs and one of the cats stolen. Rachel initially starting fund raising for an organisation and shelter near the coast.
After meeting in France in 2010, Rachel and Pete started spending summers in Bulgaria and in 2011, they visited a couple of shelters and saw first hand the conditions the dogs live in and the lack of adequate medical care for many. The shelters struggle to re-home the animals, while more and more in desperate need of help are found on a daily basis. It was decided that the best option was to set up a small charity to try and raise funds and awareness and to distribute funds and supplies where most needed.
A constitution, based on the Charity Commission’s example constitution for a small charity, was put into place and the charity was born in January 2012. TwitchyNoses is a not-for-profit organisation recognised as charitable by HMRC for tax purposes and has set up a dedicated charity bank account in the UK as well as a charity operated PayPal account. There will be full transparency for all donations and accounts will be available following the end of each financial year (and at any time by request) to show how funds were collected and used.
In April 2012 Rachel read about the plight of a female dog and her 14 pups in the isolator (shelter) at Stara Zagora. She contacted the girl who was trying to rescue them and it was decided TwitchyNoses would try and help save and re-home mum and pups. The funds were raised to do all the necessary tests on the pups and take them to a private shelter. Unfortunately the pups all had Parvo virus and despite our best efforts all but 5 of the pups died. On returning to Bulgaria in May 2012, Rachel & Pete opened their home and garden up to the remaining puppies, as well as a number of other dogs and began fostering over the summer. However, it soon became apparent that all was not as it should be with the people we had opted to help, money was being claimed for illnesses that the dog's simply did not have, obstacles were put in the way of re-homing and the people involved seem to live well beyond their means. We learnt a valuable lesson and moved on.
Rescuing Dogs From All Over Bulgaria
We then began to respond to requests for help from all over Bulgaria and were soon taking in dogs from the far reaches of the country.
We were finding private home adoptions for the dogs but then in 2013 one of our former rescues happened to attend a Doggy Day Care centre in Manchester and her rescue story became known. The owners of the Doggy Day Care centre were just starting out wanting to help rescue and foster dogs but as they wanted to do so in a non-kennel environment they were turned down by many places in the UK. They approached us to see if they could help us and in 2013 our first rescue dogs went to Dogs4Rescue. It was the start of a partnership that transformed the way we could do rescue, ensuring our dogs had a lovely foster place to go to in the UK, full lifetime rescue back up and all home checks and follow ups could be easily carried out.
Bringing it Back to Local
In 2016 we moved back to Bulgaria permanently and decided due to the huge numbers of dogs needing help and limited resources and funds, we would concentrate on mainly helping those in our local area (Maglizh), dogs in the local pounds and following the purchase of a ski home near Borovets, dogs in the Samokov region.
Moving Forward - Neutering & Out reach Programs
As rules and regulations change, Brexit approaches and as so many others have since set up re-homing dogs from Bulgaria abroad, we have opted to concentrate mainly on neutering and out-reach programs in our local areas. Please see our individual campaigns for more details (Life-Lines for Chained Dogs & our Out-Reach Program. )