The heartwarming story of a dog that was rescued in Bahrain after he was discovered barely breathing has inspired people around the world.
Sparrow is a pit bull and his long road to recovery started in May 2022 when Soha Al-Awadhi discovered him lying on the roadside.
Al-Awadhi is a volunteer at the Bahrain Animal Rescue Center. She told Newsweek: “I received a pin location and a short video of a dog walking at a distance accompanied by an urgent request for help from a woman who, although very concerned, genuinely apologized that she simply would not be able to afford vet bills or take the dog in.”
Despite housing 357 dogs at the rescue center, Al-Awadhi said she could not leave the animal in need and approached the location.
“I followed the pin, lowering my window and asking people if they had seen the dog in question and circling the area with eyes peeled and my heart sinking,” she said. After over half an hour of searching for the injured dog, Al-Awadhi said she was ready to give up when a child chased her down the street and said he had found the dog.
“And there, on the side of the road was Sparrow. Laying on his side, covered in dirt and barely breathing, I honestly thought I was too late,” she said. “But then, as I neared him, I saw his shallow breathing and gently said, ‘Baby, you’re gonna be ok,’ and a tail wagged. As he lifted his head and I saw his mangled face, all my earlier resolve shattered into a million pieces along with my heart.”
Wrapping the injured pooch in a towel, she carried his body to the car and frantically drove to the nearest vet—sobbing as she drove.
“Sparrow was starving, anemic, and his wounds—which were about a week old—severely infected. He was given antibiotics and a pain killer, and the next day a decision was made to sedate and start cleaning the wounds,” recalled Al-Awadhi.
“Nothing prepared us for the sight we saw the next day as the cleaning began and the extent of his injuries was revealed. There are no words. Removing maggots, the vet stitched where she could, but the majority of his wounds were gaping holes all over his body that would need time to heal. And his mauled face with those gentle, tired eyes… this was the face of abuse.”
The vet and rescue team assumed that Sparrow was likely being used as a bait dog in the underground dog fighting rings in Bahrain. Severely injured but alive, the canine spent around three months at the vet clinic—slowly healing, gaining weight, and capturing the hearts of his new human friends.
Sparrow is estimated to be around three years old, and Al-Awadhi said he has a lovely personality: “This temperament is sweet and loving and a total cuddle bug,” she said.
Bahrain Animal Rescue Center is the largest no-kill shelter on the island. With over 350 dogs and 150 cats in a space that should only safely accommodate half that number, they are overwhelmed.
“With four staff and a handful of volunteers, we do our best for the animals but, it’s never enough. On a daily basis, animals are left abandoned, abused, dumped, shot, poisoned, or suffering in the heat of our desert country. It’s a never-ending nightmare,” said Al-Awadhi.
But things are looking up for Sparrow. By September, he was ready to be discharged from the vet. However, his facial wound had still not fully healed and he could not be taken to the shelter because of the infection risk.
Instead, Sparrow was fostered by a couple who have spent the last few months helping the pup perfect the art of cuddling, playtime, and being part of a family.
Then, more positive news came for the once-abandoned pup. Rory O’Neill, founder of Rocky Mountain Animal Rescue—a private sanctuary in Canada that specializes in rehoming animals from unforgiving environments—became part of the effort to give Sparrow the life he deserves.
“Rory had been working with me to rehome two other dogs from Bahrain,” said Al-Awadhi. “When she heard Sparrow’s story, she did not hesitate for a moment to offer her help in rehoming him in Canada.”
“It is a truly remarkable story,” O’Neill told Newsweek. “I have seen many [injured animals] over 30 some years, but this one is the most severe.”
Later this month, Sparrow will fly to Canada where O’Neill will take over his care: “Rory will have him fostered and then, hopefully, adopted into a home where he will finally have the happily ever after he so deserves,” said Al-Awadhi.
“It’s been a long road for this boy, and it’s taken the hard work and dedication of many people along the way to get him to where he is—safe, loved, and out of the wretched life he was born into.”
While everyone hopes that Sparrow will soon find a forever home, Al-Awadhi said that Bahrain Animal Rescue Center needs to find more support for other dogs like Sparrow.
“We need help for all the dogs, but especially the pit bulls,” she explained: “Because otherwise they will live and die at the shelter. They deserve good homes but I can’t adopt them out here because if I do, they’ll fall back into the wrong hands.”
Al-Awadhi explained that while the dogs are safe at the shelter, it is still a huge struggle for the animals: “We have no electricity. No running water. No financial backing,” she explained. “Imagine spending your whole life in one room. The dogs just shut down. They deserve so much better, and we need help to give them the lives they deserve.”