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Help for the Strays in Rila Monastery


© Yavor Gechev / FOUR PAWS

In the end of April a small FOUR PAWS team was in the biggest monastery in Bulgaria to help reduce the growing population of stray cats and dogs. Rila Monastery is one of the main destinations for tourists and pilgrims in Bulgaria. Each year it welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors. Unfortunately, some of them come to the sacred place only to leave their pets. During the years the monks and employees of the monastery managed to find good homes for the numerous dumped cats and dogs. Some of the cats were kept on the premises to ward mice off. However, their number kept growing and a more sustainable solution was needed. As there is no veterinary clinic near the monastery, the only option was to arrange for a mobile vet unit to capture the animals, neuter them and release them back in their territory.


FOUR PAWS is the only animal welfare organization in Bulgaria with a licensed mobile veterinary clinic. It also has an experienced team of veterinarians and cat and dog catchers, which allows for provision of help for the strays even in the most remote areas. We were happy to respond to the invitation by the abbot and organized a capture-neuter-release campaign in the first warm days of spring.

The clinic was situated outside the monastery walls and animals captured in and around were brought for the neutering procedure. During the three days of the mini neutering campaign, the team of 2 veterinarians and 2 catchers managed to capture and treat a total of 23 cats and 4 dogs – which is practically all the population of free roaming animals.


There was also a very special patient to our clinic – a white dove, which had found refuge at the monastery but was attacked and injured by a cat. Fortunately, one of the priests rescued it and asked our vets for assistance. The wounds of the bird were cleaned and medicines were applied. Three days later there was visible improvement of the condition of the dove.  


FOUR PAWS would like to express gratitude to bishop Eulogius, the abbot of Rila Monastery, for the invitation and warm welcome and to Mrs. Zhivka Mantarkova, curator of the museum, and father Callistratus for their assistance during our campaign.  

© Yavor Gechev / FOUR PAWS

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