The puppy rescuers of Alexandria

Mariem Taha and Babsy Rock Image copyright Mariem Taha
Image caption Mariem Taha, her daughter and Babsy Rock

"No one can tell you that we are a nation without hope."

Words from a viral Facebook post in praise of Egyptian animal lovers who acted to save a puppy that was trapped under large stone boulders for more than three weeks.

The puppy had reportedly been abandoned to a slow lingering death by its owners. But a group of volunteers banded together to mobilise a rescue mission which hundreds of thousands followed on social media.

Image copyright Ashraf Sultan / IMGUR
Image caption Rescuers stepped in when the puppy was left to die by its owners

The story begins in early July when Mariem Taha, a 36-year-old resident of Egypt's port city Alexandria, began to hear the unsettling sound of whimpering when she was at a cafe on the famous sea front corniche.

"It was very upsetting sound so I asked the cafe owner what it was, " Taha told BBC Trending, "He said that on the previous day some people had a come with a puppy and the puppy had fallen in between the gaps of some stone boulders. The people then abandoned the puppy. The whimpering was very upsetting so I decided to go in search of the puppy.

"The first three days I could hear the puppy but I couldn't see her. So I wasn't sure where to throw food for her, and she may have been scared. By the third day, she was familiar with my voice so she appeared in the gaps. I couldn't reach for her but I could feed her. I decided to name her Babsy Rock."

Taha returned daily to feed Babsy Rock but couldn't work out a way to rescue her. So she turned to a Facebook group called 'Save Innocent Souls'. The group was known to be frequented by animal welfare activists. A post requesting aid was met with several people offering to help.

The progress of the rescue was documented on social media and this gallery has been viewed more than 300,000 times online on the photo sharing site IMGUR.

Image copyright Reem Mansour Facebook

After persistent lobbying, the local authority sent a crane to aid the rescue.

Image copyright Reem Mansour

And Babsy Rock was finally freed having spent a total of around 25 days under the rocks.

Image copyright IMGUR
Image caption Volunteer with Babsy Rock

The rescuers told Mariem of Dr Mahmoud Abdelmaksoud, a local vet known to animal rescuers, who did a check-up on Babsy Rock.

Image copyright Amr Hosny photography
Image caption Dr Abdelmaksoud has been described as a hero

"Dr Abdelmaksoud is an incredible man, a hero. Many volunteers call him to check up on the animals they have rescued and he offers his services for free," says Mau Hamada, who is the founder of one of the animal rescue groups in Alexandria. Hers is called Animal Zone and she says that they are completely volunteer based, and accept no donations.

"Social media was crucial in the rescue of Babsy Rock. Mariem's posts on Facebook mobilised a lot of us volunteers and many people pitched in with the rescue. A lot of information is shared on digital platforms so that we can do our work," Hamada told Trending, "There are dozens of people in Alexandria helping to rescue animals, they either work in self-organised groups like us or individually."

Campaigners have often been critical of Egypt's record on animal welfare. Mau Hamada says that there a range of factors which can result in the mistreatment of animals; "the fear of stray animals, sadistic individuals and some people that say that dogs are not a welcome part of Islam, although they are in the minority."

Image copyright Mariem Taha
Image caption Babsy Rock at Mariem Taha's house post rescue

But there was a happy ending for Babsy Rock who has been adopted by Mariem Taha. And how is she doing now?

"She's very naughty," laughs Taha.

Blog by Megha Mohan and additional reporting by Abdirahim Saeed

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