Jean-Claude Van Damme has stepped in to save a three-month-old chihuahua from being euthanised over an EU passport problem.
The chihuahua, called Raya, had been sold to its new owners in Norway, from breeders in Bulgaria.
However, Norwegian authorities discovered on the dog's arrival into the country that it had done so on a fake Bulgarian passport.
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The dog was then sent back to Bulgaria, but because Norway is not in the EU, Bulgarian authorities said they could not take the dog back, due to rules over the transport of live animals.
This meant that Raya would be facing euthanasia. But not on Van Damme's watch.
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The Bloodsport actor, who has just turned 60, and who is a chihuahua owner himself, took to social media to plead with the Bulgarian authorities to reconsider their position, and direct fans to a Change.org petition.
“I beg, please, for my birthday, the food safety authority, change your decision,” Van Damme on his Instagram page.
“They made a mistake, the people who didn’t do the paper correctly... But they cannot kill that little chihuahua.”
Thanks in part to Van Damme's spotlight on the incident, the Bulgarian food safety authorities have decided that the dog will not be euthanised, but given medical checks on her return to Bulgaria, before being put up for adoption.
Van Damme has long been an advocate for adopting animals, donating $30,000 in 2016 to Animals Australia, a charity based in Sydney, after appearing in an advertising campaign to encourage people to adopt greyhounds.
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