Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Tierschutz Mission Burgas – A Dog Rescue Centre in Bulgaria

by guest blogger Rachel Gawith (Bulgaria forum co-moderator)

I initially heard of the Tierschutz (Animal Rescue) Mission through a friend of a friend back in November 2007, when I was desperately trying to find new homes for two puppies from a litter of four, born to a street dog I had adopted. Already having a number of other dogs and cats I decided I could really only keep two of the puppies and so made the hard decision to take the other two to the rescue centre.

With only brief directions to finding the centre and speaking very little Bulgarian, the journey there was a nightmare. I got lost in central Burgas and the puppies were getting very stressed. But eventually Margarita, who runs the office for the Tierschutz Mission found me and drove with me to the centre, which is situated just off the main road from Burgas to Sozopol.

First impressions of the centre are that it is very basic. There is one long, low building made into pens and also housing a small operating room for simple procedures and an area for new Mums and pups. There are then various sheds and kennels around housing many more dogs. But the few staff that volunteer to run the place were all friendly and very dedicated and it was kept very clean. My two pups were found accommodation in a large outdoor pen and I said my goodbyes and made a donation to the cause.

A few months later I received a telephone call from Margarita to say my pups had been re-homed together to a Bulgarian family living in the countryside with plenty of space. She also mentioned that the Mission was very short on funds for food and medical care. I promised to try and raise some money from the expat society in Bulgaria. However, despite appeals on various forums only one person came forward and gave some money.

So on 5th September this year, myself and two other expats met up in Burgas to visit the Mission’s office and discuss raising funds through organised events and donations. We met with Christa Schechtl, a German journalist who has dedicated much of her life and much of her money to helping street dogs in places such as Turkey, Ukraine and Bulgaria. It is Christa’s dream to build a large, new, modern dog rescue centre on land she has purchased close to Chernomorets and to date all funds for the office, dog food, housing and medical expenses has been covered by Christa and from donations she has managed to get from people in Germany. The sanctuary has received no funding from Bulgarian sources.

Christa organised and paid for 30 dogs to be taken back to Germany and re-homed there in a trip taking 3 full days of driving and an awful lot of money. In September 2008 she is flying two more dogs back to Germany. She has published 3 magazines (in German only) available at

The Mayor of Burgas has recently informed Christa and Margarita of his intention to use the land where the current sanctuary is to build a fun park for holiday makers. It is hoped that funds can be raised from the Municipality wanting to reclaim this land and used to start building the new centre.

However, there are still over 100 dogs housed at the current sanctuary. These all need good new homes and in the meantime, money is required for medical treatment, food, blankets for winter and toys etc.

We visited the sanctuary and spent a couple of hours playing with the numerous puppies, talking to staff, walking round the pens. A German family arrived while we were there and brought with them a brand new puppy pen and puppy bed as well as food and drink for the staff. We heard the tales of how many of the dogs had come to be in the sanctuary; like Morjo who was born there 2 years ago, or Merri, a three year old beautiful Setter type dog found starving in Sofia and then there is Tony, a little terrier dog who was a house dog for 7 years until his owner decided he no longer wanted him, hit him over the head and threw him out. He required various operations to sort out a head wound and broken teeth but is now looking for a new home.

With the help of a colleague in Burgas we are hoping to set up a few collection points where food can be dropped off, as well as blankets, cushions, toys etc and also get some collection boxes on display at various locations.

I also intend to organise regular fund raising events such as car boot sales, book sales, dinner parties, sponsored events and theme nights. These will mainly be held in the Burgas, Yambol, Sliven, Stara Zagora and Chirpan areas. Anyone willing to help or interested to get involved can contact me using the details below.

If you can give a dog a new home where he can run freely in a garden, experience long walks in the country side and be part of a family, then please visit the sanctuary as there are many beautiful, loving dogs waiting there.

It is hoped that a website can soon be set up for the Mission but at the moment donations can be made at the following site:

Rachel Gawith

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