Paralyzed dog rescued after Syria earthquake walks again

A paralyzed stray dog, rescued from the aftermath of the earthquake in northern Syria, has been given a life in full motion by his rescuers.

IFAW partner rescue organization, House of Cats Ernesto, found the dog in the aftermath of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake which struck Syria on February 6, 2023. The organization provided emergency funding to four animal rescue organizations across Turkey and northern Syria for earthquake response efforts.

The rescuers named the dog Bobby, which is a local nickname for “dog” and refused to leave him behind.

“When we came across the dog (Bobby) lying in the mud at the side of a field, we were very moved. He was soaked to the skin and covered in mud. It was hard to even see what color he was. Paralyzed in his back legs and barely able to move, he struggled to sit up for us…It was hard [for us] to see him like this and so we took him back to [House of Cats] Ernesto’s sanctuary and gave him pain relief, a warm bath and a meal,” said Dr. Ahmad Yousef, House of Cats Ernesto veterinarian.

“Sadly, he isn't responding to treatment and physiotherapy. His spine has been crushed. We don't know what caused him to be like this. Was it the earthquakes? We just don't know.”

The team researched how they could help Bobby walk again and tried to find a wheelchair for paralyzed dogs but were unable to do so. Instead, the team found equipment and a local contractor to build a wheelchair for Bobby. Today, he walks, runs, and plays with other dogs at the sanctuary.

“He [Bobby] is now at the farm [sanctuary] and we will give him back some dignity and mobility. He is a kind and gentle dog. He deserves this chance at least,” said Dr. Yousef.

Since the earthquake, IFAW has supported House of Cats Ernesto to rescue, treat and help over a thousand animals impacted by the disaster through emergency grant funds. The two organizations previously worked together during the COVID 19 pandemic in 2020.

“Individual animals like Bobby are the reason we work long hours and go the extra mile, especially during disasters. We are proud to partner with House of Cats Ernesto knowing that our support enables a better life for rescued animals like Bobby. Every day, their teams work in the rubble and in the communities to help animals and people recover from this terrible tragedy,” said Jennifer Gardner, Program Manager for Disaster Resilience at IFAW.