The story of a dog from the Russia Far East has captured the hearts of animal lovers worldwide after she was rescued from a three-year-ordeal of being trapped underground between two walls.
The dog has been appropriately named Volya — or “Freedom” in English.
Volya’s horrific story began as a puppy when someone threw her into a small opening between the walls of an apartment complex and a neighboring small business.
The frightened puppy could not make her way out of the hole and eventually grew so large that she couldn’t physically escape even if she tried.
Locals kept her fed and watered, and made multiple attempts to free her by coaxing her close enough to the hole’s entrance to pull her free.
But Volya would always retreat and hide.
According to The Siberian Times, the Emergencies’ Ministry was called but they declined to help rescue her. The housing company and shop also refused to help, but eventually, it was a public campaign that helped to secure the animal’s rescue.
It ultimately took a team of determined animal welfare workers to free Volya from her underground world. A welder named Andrey Chernov worked to increase the size of the hole so that a human could squeeze down into the tunnels and bring Volya to the surface.
Darya Stepantsova, 27, had just the right combination of size, grit, and compassion to complete the challenging rescue.
“I thought I could just get inside, throw a loop around the dog’s neck and pull her out,” Stepantsova told The Siberian Times.
“But when got there, I was shocked,” she said. “For years the dog had dug tunnels there — at first I thought it was unreal to catch her.”
Breathing in heavy dust and cement, Stepantsova tried to chase the dog that didn’t want to be caught. The dog was adept at navigating her underground world and resisted contact with her human rescuer by hiding in her maze of tunnels.
Stepantsova was ultimately able to rescue the frightened dog. Volya was given a relatively clean bill of physical health, but her psychological health was a different story.
Understandably, Volya was terrified of people, sunlight and wide, open spaces. After a puppyhood of living in darkness and digging tunnels, she really knew no other way to survive.
But Stepantsova was patient with Volya and eventually helped facilitate her adoption into a home in Germany.
Chantal Fahrin, 35, heard Volya’s story and just knew she had to try and adopt Volya.
Fahrin praised Stepantsova’s efforts, calling her a true hero.
“She really is a Russian hero, and I think people in Russia should get to know about her soon,” Fahrin told The Siberian Times in 2017. “She has her own shelter in Khabarovsk and is a mega-strong girl. Russia should be proud of her!”
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