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Bringing Tonja Home

In the midst of chaos and uncertainty, sometimes, it’s the simplest connections that carry us through the darkest times. For Amira, a refugee from Sudan, the longing to be reunited with her cherished companion, Tonja, was her beacon of hope.

Tonja, a sweet and playful German Shepherd, was only four months old when he became a part of Amira’s family. He was named after a hero, the late dog of Amira’s parents, who spent years protecting her mom and the rest of their town.

For Amira, Tonja was more than a pet; he was a source of joy. He was a ball of energy who stole the hearts of everyone he encountered. Even his veterinarian dubbed him the “happiest dog in Khartoum.”  Amira never imagined that she would ever be separated from her beloved dog, but when conflict erupted in Sudan, their world shattered.

Bombs shook the streets; gunfire echoed through the neighborhoods, and residents were forced out of their homes at gunpoint. With people being killed all around her, Amira had no other choice but to flee in an effort to save her life. With a heavy heart, she left Tonja behind, knowing she couldn’t pass through checkpoints with him. Amira hoped she’d be able to return to her home and Tonja in a few weeks once things settled down, but they never did. 

Kind neighbors cared for Tonja temporarily, but as the conflict escalated, Amira knew they would also have to flee soon. Desperate to save the dog she loved so much, Amira reached out to our Apollo’s Aid program for help.

Bringing Tonja to safety was challenging. While we’ve rescued dogs out of conflict zones in the past, evacuating Tonja from Sudan proved to be one of the biggest challenges our Apollo’s Aid team has faced. But we never gave up. We knew just how important Tonja was to Amira and her family. They had lost everything – having to uproot their entire lives at a moment’s notice. We could not let them lose Tonja, too.

After months of hard work and determination, Tonja and Amira finally reunited in Cairo in early March, where Amira and her family are working to rebuild their lives. To no one’s surprise, Tonja has already made friends in town. He continues to be the “kind, messy, extremely loving, and gentle” dog Amira loves so dearly.

 “The trauma of losing everything suddenly and having to restart your life is the strangest thing. It’s like processing the experiences that would happen to a person in many years in a few months. Some sort of closure is required to happen in order to start building again. Tonja was a missing piece of my family, and it was necessary to reunite with him to begin the process of rebuilding. I must sound so over the top, but it’s true.

I would like to thank SPCA International for their support, patience and positivity. This was a difficult mission. Thank you for not giving up. This was truly amazing.”

 – Amira

You make it possible for refugees like Amira to reunite with their beloved companions through our Apollo’s Aid program.