Jean-Claude Van Damme saves chihuahua after fake passport row

Roisin O'Connor
·1-min read
Raya the puppy (Change.org)
Raya the puppy (Change.org)

Jean-Claude Van Damme has helped to save the life of a three-month old chihuahua puppy after a legal battle between Norway and Bulgaria.

The dog, named Raya, was sold to new owners based in Norway in September. However, officials refused to register her because she had travelled with a fake Bulgarian passport.

Bulgaria then refused to take Raya back after Norway tried to repatriate her due to EU rules regarding the transport of live animals.

Van Damme intervened with an emotional campaign on social media after it emerged that Raya was facing euthanasia.

The Belgian actor shared a petition along with pictures of Raya to his millions of followers on social media.

“I beg, please, for my birthday, the food safety authority, change your decision,” he wrote.

“They made a mistake, the people who didn’t do the paper correctly ... But they cannot kill that little chihuahua.”

Bulgarian authorities were eventually persuaded to accept Raya back into the country, where she will undergo medical checks before being put up for adoption.

Yavor Gechev from the Four Paws animal rights organisation told AFP that the export of pets from east to west and northern Europe is “a lucrative business”, and called for stricter controls on animal traffickers and illegal breeders.