Jean-Claude Van Damme saves puppy from euthanasia in fake passport row

He’s Damme kind! Jean-Claude Van Damme saves chihuahua puppy from being put down after it was caught up in bizarre fake passport row

  • Jean-Claude Van Damme urged authorities to spare the puppy as a birthday gift 
  •  The film star, 60, made an emotive plea and shared a petition on social media
  •  Reya, the puppy, faced euthanasia after travelling from Bulgaria to Norway on a fake passport. Norway refused to register her and Bulgaria would not repatriate
  •  Bulgaria’s Food Safety Authority has reversed its choice after Van Damme’s plea

Action movie star Jean-Claude Van Damme has come to the rescue of a three-month-old chihuahua puppy that was destined for euthanasia after getting caught up in a row over a fake passport.

The Hollywood hardman campaigned on behalf of the poor pooch who was sold to new owners in Norway in September.

Officials there refused to register her because she had travelled to the country on a fake Bulgarian passport.

Norway tried to repatriate the puppy, named Reya, but Bulgaria refused to take her because of European Union rules about transporting live animals, leaving the dog facing euthanasia – until the Belgian film legend got involved. 

Action movie star Jean-Claude Van Damme has helped to save the live of a chihuahua puppy destined for euthanasia after getting caught up in a legal tussle between Norway and Bulgaria over a fake passport. Van Damme is pictured above making an emotive plea to Bulgarian authorities with his own chihuahua sits on his knee

Van Damme, who turned 60 on Monday, said that saving the dog’s life would be the best possible birthday gift. Pictured above making the plea with his own chihuahua

The star, known as the ‘Muscles from Brussles’, shared an emotive video plea on his Facebook, having earlier urged fans on Twitter and Instagram to sign a petition to save Reya’s life.

In the video, Van Damme, sitting with his own chihuahua on his lap, emphasises his links to Bulgaria, saying he has made many movies there and loves the country.

‘I beg, please, for my birthday, the Food Safety Authority, change your decision,’ Van Damme wrote over the weekend, launching a petition to save the dog.

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

The star added, without elaborating, that killing the dog would be back luck for the future and ‘for Covid.’

His efforts paid off, with the Bulgarian Food Safety Authority eventually agreeing on Monday – Van Damme’s 60th birthday – to accept the dog back.

The food safety authority says Raya will have medical checks when she gets back to Bulgaria and will be put up for adoption.

Yavor Gechev from the Four Paws animal rights organisation told AFP news agency on Monday that Bulgaria should be congratulated for showing flexibility but called for stricter control on illegal breeders and animal traffickers.

‘The export of pets from eastern to western and northern Europe is a lucrative business,’ he said.

The dog’s fake passport meant she would have been put down on October 20 under Norway’s legislation, said Gechev. 

An animal lover, Van Damme is pictured with a chihuahua puppy in 2011 to promote a documentary about his life [File photo]

The action star, known as the ‘Muscles from Brussels’ has helped out animals in the past, lending his support to an Animals Australia fundraiser and appearing in their campaign urging people to adopt greyhounds. Pictured: Van Damme poses with a chihuahua in 2011 to promote a documentary [File photo]

Van Damme’s softer side often comes to the fore on animal issues. In 2016, he attended a fundraiser in Sydney to support Animals Australia, a charity close to his heart.

He also posed with a chihuahua puppy in 2011 to promote a documentary about his life.  

The misadventures of Raya resemble the story of Penka the cow, who also faced a death sentence after wandering over Bulgaria’s border with Serbia in May 2018.

Penka was saved thanks to an international campaign in her defence joined by former Beatle Paul McCartney

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