Iranian Dog Flown to U.S. for Treatment for Cruel Injury
Photo: Ellen Schmidt

A dog abused with firecrackers in Iran was flown to the U.S. to receive treatment for a burned and deformed mouth. He is now recovering.

Raha had very hard beginnings in Iran, where the 3-year old dog has spent his life until now.

There, some people cruelly taped firecrackers to his mouth and lit them. By some miracle, the firecrackers did not go off, but they did inflict severe burns to most of Raha’s sweet little face.

Iranian Dog Flown to U.S. for Treatment for Cruel Injury
Photo: Home For Life

Raha, a Sighthound-shepherd mix, then suffered malnourishment because of these grievous injuries.

Heartbreaking Beginnings

When a pedestrian found Raha in Zanjan Province, he took the dog to his grandparents house. There, they took mercy on the pup, feeding him chicken broth to make sure he could survive.

After that, Raha was taken to Iran’s only animal shelter, a place called Vafa Animal Shelter in Hashtgerd, Iran.

According to the shelter’s volunteer marketing and social media director Farah Shaygan, it is almost impossible to allow dogs with severe disabilities to live among the other dogs. They can’t get the care they need in such conditions.

Vafa houses about 1,200 stray, pregnancy, and injured dogs. It is the only animal shelter in the country.

Iranian Dog Flown to U.S. for Treatment for Cruel Injury
Photo: Home for Life

Shaygan has witnessed many other acts of cruelty in her time as a volunteer for Vafa. Even so, Raha’s case was among the most shocking she’s ever seen.

Vafa posted about Raha on Facebook, and it got the attention of Home for Life in Star Prairie, Wisconsin. The two shelters worked together to bring him to the U.S. for treatment.

Home For Life is a shelter which takes dogs, cats, birds, and even tortoises. Here, animals who had no chance to live are given the opportunity to live out the rest of their years in happiness.

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It was decided that Raha would be treated at the University of Minnesota. This is where the shelter prefers to take special and extreme cases.

When the shelter posted Raha’s story to Facebook, people donated approximately $10,000 for the precious pup’s care.

The Surgery

Raha arrived with most of the skin melted off of his face and unable to eat. He could not open his jaw.

Raha can almost not even open his mouth pre-surgery, and that his entire facial skull shows signs of either caustic activity or deep infection. His back teeth were also all in terrible shape.

This dog was in a lot of pain, and suffering immensely. But the University vet Betty Kramek went to work to make him more comfortable.

They could hardly even intubate the dog because of his limited jaw opening, but eventually they figured it out.

Raha’s jaw was trapped shut because of scar tissue, so the doctors had to cut that away. After this, you can see that Raha’s mouth is able to open much more than before the surgery.

All in all, Raha is now left with missing teeth, a missing eye, and impaired function of the tongue and lips.

But he is alive, and now after so much cold-hearted cruelty, he will know warmth and love.

Iranian Dog Flown to U.S. for Treatment for Cruel Injury
Raha rolls in the grass in Wisconsin. Photo: Ellen Schmidt

Happy Days Ahead

Right now, Raha is still recovering from surgery. But he can open his mouth about 2-3 inches, and eats a liquid diet during recovery. This will help him remain hydrated and gaining weight.

For now, he must remain isolated, as he wears a cone around his neck to prevent post-surgical injury.

Surprisingly, the dog trusts the humans around him. He rolls on his back to show humans his belly and receive pets.

From now on, Raha will spend his days sunbathing in the grass in Wisconsin.

He will continue his recovery alongside other animals (some also from Vafa) who share horrific pasts with him. But together, they will live out lives of comfort and joy.

UPDATE (2023): Raha passed away at an estimated age of 13 or 14. Read Home for Life's statement here.

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Cody has worked and volunteered with rescue animals her entire life. She worked as a veterinary assistant and technician in shelters, rescues, boarding facilities, doggy daycares and animal hospitals in New York and Chicago throughout her teens and twenties, and now resides as a pet foster mom in Upstate New York.