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International Animal Rescue Saving animals from suffering around the world

International Animal Rescue responds to a special cry for help

Gemma Keeley contacted IAR earlier this year, desperately seeking help to bring a rescued dog back to the UK from Turkey. We often receive this kind of request but sadly generally can only offer advice and moral support. However, Gemma’s situation was particularly poignant and we felt compelled to match her own efforts to save Genie.

Genie is now safely in quarantine in the UK and Alan Knight recently paid her a special Christmas visit.

Gemma tells Genie’s story:

Gemma and GenieIn February 2004 I moved to a small village named Dalyan in Turkey. I had a wonderful villa in the country, surrounded by mountains and fields of lemons. It didn’t matter that I had to walk 1 ½ km into town everyday for work because coming back home to the peace and tranquillity made it all worthwhile. Nevertheless, although the sky was blue, the sun shone and the vibrant scent and colours of the flowers greeted me, the walk was never a pleasant one. Everywhere I saw dogs on chains no more than 50cm long, with bread for food and occasional bowls of water, never knowing what it’s like to have a walk or to be sheltered from the stormy weather or blazing heat. Packs of street dogs were everywhere, desperate for food and a bit of kindness. Then there was Genie...

As I turned the corner onto the street where I worked, I could here the most terrible yelping, a screech so high-pitched it resonated through my whole body, and a man shouting. To my horror I witnessed a little dog being beaten with a broom by a shop owner. I shouted at him to stop. Running over I scooped the little bundle up that was still crying in pain and took her to my office. She was thin, with matted dirty grey hair, bruised from the beating and bleeding from a puncture wound in her neck that was sure to be from the jaws of another street dog. I took her to the vet where in typical Turkish fashion they patched her up and gave her an antibiotic injection. I took her back to my office where she stayed on my lap the whole time while I tried to work on the computer. I later learned that the little bundle I have now named Genie had a litter of five puppies - she would have been such a wonderful mum, if the shop owner hadn’t collected them in a plastic carrier bag, tied it up and thrown them in the bin.

Genie happy and safe at lastGenie came home with me that day, and has been the most loving, obedient dog I have ever met. She has the most amazing spirit and in spite of the trauma she has endured is the most forgiving, sweet natured animal you are ever likely to meet.

In 2007 my mum was diagnosed with a serious illness and I needed to return to the UK to take care of her. I left Genie to be looked after by an English couple who appeared to be genuine animal lovers. Nine months later I received an email one Friday morning to say that they were leaving that afternoon, so I would have to find someone else to look after Genie. I got the earliest flight I could, arriving in the early hours of Sunday. Genie was locked up in heat of over 100 degrees with no water and some mouldy biscuits. She was very distressed and clearly traumatised. In subsequent days I learnt from neighbours that the couple were very rarely at home and went away travelling for days at a time. I couldn’t believe she had had to endure more abuse after everything she had been through, I felt so guilty. It took me three weeks to get her back to herself, with a visit to the vet revealing she was malnourished, anaemic and had poor liver function.

Circumstances and the deterioration of my mum’s health gave me no alternative other than to move back to the UK. Frantically I tried to arrange funding to allow me to bring Genie with me, as I would never leave her with anyone again. I had put my villa on the market but was doubtful that I would get a sale before October which was my deadline for returning to the UK, as I needed to assist mum with her hospital appointments. I had written to many companies and animal charities pleading for help. Just when I was about to give up hope I received an email - I will never forget the words that were written – "I want to help you". Alan Knight from International Animal Rescue, despite being a small charity with an overspend of £150,000 for this year, offered to sponsor Genie’s trip to the UK which also involves six months quarantine. Although I am not a religious person, I always believed in angels, now with Alan’s kindness and compassion I truly believe I have met one.

Thank you Alan and International Animal Rescue for all your help, and for guiding me through the process step by step. With your help you have enabled us to keep our family together. Without you, the outcome doesn’t bear thinking about.