He’s been a time-traveling cop. He’s been a Kumite champion. He’s been a hard target with a mullet. He’s been a vengeful kickboxer.
But for all of his cult classics and theatrical exploits, Hollywood action star Jean-Claude Van Damme may have stumbled into his most endearing role to date — and it all involved a 3-month-old chihuahua puppy named Raya.
Issues arose, however, when it came to Raya’s passport.
Apparently, Raya’s Bulgarian pet passport, which includes things such as vaccination and parasite treatment documentation, was not valid, according to Iverson’s Change.org petition. Raya was therefore not legally allowed to be in Norway.
Now, most people might assume that the next steps for Raya would be to get the proper documentation, or, at worst, to be re-homed back in Bulgaria.
This was not the case. The Norwegian and Bulgarian authorities couldn’t find any common ground, per Iverson. Instead, as the dog’s origins were unable to be confirmed, neither Norway nor Bulgaria wanted Raya.
Apparently, the only option left was to kill the puppy — her sole crime being that she was bred and sold by people looking to potentially move her illegally across Europe.
Fortunately for Raya, her story caught the eye of the “Muscles from Brussels,” according to the Daily Mail, a U.K.-based outlet.
Van Damme promptly shared Raya’s plight with his 350,000 followers on Twitter.
— Jean-Claude Van Damme (@JCVD) October 17, 2020
But Van Damme didn’t just tweet about the situation.
Much like the number of explosions throughout his films, Van Damme one-upped himself by posting a genuinely heartfelt video on Facebook.
Van Damme, showing off his own chihuahua, pleaded with the Norwegian and Bulgarian food safety authorities to spare Raya’s life. Van Damme even went so far as to say that Raya’s survival was the only thing he wanted for his 60th birthday.
Lo and behold, 10 days after Van Damme brought attention to Raya on social media, Iverson posted an update on Change.org saying that Raya was safe.
“The Bulgarian Food Safety Agency has changed their decision! Raya can be transported to Bulgaria. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority has approved this!” Iverson wrote.
Iverson also made a point to specifically thank Van Damme for saving Raya’s life.
“Only because of the powerful support you have given, Jean- Claude Van Damme saw my petition and filmed a video to the authorities of Bulgaria and Norway. Without your support Jean-Claud Van Damme would never get to know about Raya, and I would never make the authorities change their mind! For that I want to thank you! Raya is now saved!”
Say what you will about Van Damme’s acting chops or the quality of his films (if you think either is poor, it’s okay to have a wrong opinion), but his love for life and puppies can’t be denied.
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