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14th Aug 2023

British family raises £3,000 to fly ‘adorable’ blind stray puppy to the UK from Mauritius


People messaged from all over the world who remembered ‘Ronnie’ from their holidays

A British family raised over £3,000 to fly an “adorable” blind stray puppy from Mauritius to the UK – after falling in love with him on holiday.

Natalie Bottomley, 48, said her daughters Taylor, 18, and Georgie, 17, became smitten with eight-month-old Ronnie after arriving on the tropical islet, in the Indian Ocean.

And after convincing her husband Chris about their plan to rehome the cross-breed, she set up a donation page in the hopes of getting him back to Britain.

But the family was amazed when money started to roll in within hours of the appeal going live – allowing them to get him off the streets.

Natalie said Ronnie spent three weeks in an animal welfare sanctuary before he was put on a 13-hour to Heathrow Airport on August 8.

And she said her family “burst into tears” when they saw him – comparing his story to the film ‘The Lady and The Tramp’ where a stray dog is taken in by a loving family.

Natalie said: “He is the most adorable dog. I believe that he chose us because he has come into our house and it’s like he has lived here for months.

“We burst out into tears [when we saw him again]. It was a bit surreal… He’s a bit like something off a Disney film, like ‘The Lady and the Tramp’.

“I swear he recognised us, obviously not by sight but by smell, because his other senses are heightened. It’s like he just knew he was safe.

“He’s just an absolute dream. I was expecting sleepless nights, I was expecting him to be really timid and shy, but he has come into our house and it’s like he owns it.”

Vegan skincare ambassador Natalie, from Leeds, West Yorkshire, jetted out with her family on July 6 to Mauritius, off the West Coast of Africa, for a two-week break.

But she said they were shocked by the number of stray cats and dogs littering the beaches, close to where they were staying in Grand Baie, on the island’s northern tip.

Natalie said her daughters came across the cute blind puppy, who they named Ronnie, close to their hotel just a day after they arrived.

She inquired with a local pet welfare centre, The Animal House Rescue, about him, which confirmed he was a stray and in need of a permanent home.

“Within 24 hours of us arriving, both of our girls fell upon Ronnie. “He’d been attacked by another dog, and a lot of the people who were staying there had taken a real liking to him as well,” Natalie explained.

“He’s lovely and cute at the moment, but as he gets older his fate isn’t great, and unfortunately, stray dogs in Mauritius aren’t particularly treated well.

“We saw an awful lot in a horrendous state. On the paradise island of Mauritius, you just don’t expect it.”

Natalie discussed the poor pup’s plight with members of her rounders team, Aireborough Belters, and they then set up a GoFundMe page to try and help him.

But she was left stunned when people from all over the world recognised Ronnie from their holidays and rapidly began chipping in money for his cause.

Natalie said: “We realised within four hours, we’d got enough money to start getting him back.”

The family then organised for Ronnie to be vaccinated and castrated at a local animal centre before they flew home on July 21.

And they then paid for him to be jetted over to Britain, with the help of the charity Four Paws UK, picking him up from Heathrow Airport three weeks later.

Ronnie has now settled in at their family home in Leeds, where he has their two cats and their Labrador for company.

But Natalie revealed how animal lovers from around the world were still contributing to their fundraiser, which they’re using to pay for Ronnie’s vet bills.

She said: “I had a lady who donated £700 to the fund, she lives in South Africa.

“She messaged me and said: ‘I had a really awful day, and I looked at the video of your two dogs playing in your garden. My job is extremely stressful and I wanted to burst out into tears, but then I realised that the job allows me to donate that money for you to be able to rescue Ronnie. Now I see that it makes it worth it.’”

Natalie said she’s also planning future fundraising events, which she hopes will allow other stray animals on Mauritius to be rehomed too.

She added: “There are some other dogs on there that we want to help, and that’s why we’re really keen to get the GoFundMe out there a bit more.” Natalie’s fundraiser has currently reached £3,655.

Natalie’s GoFundMe can be found here.

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