Northern Ireland

From the Amazon to Antrim - the dog that travelled 5,000 miles

Negrita the dog before, left and after right Image copyright PlayforStrays
Image caption Negrita the dog, before she was rescued, left and enjoying life in County Antrim, right

"She was emaciated, badly beaten and her ears were sliced. The vultures were following her every move".

When David Foster took a trip to the Amazon, he had no idea it would end with a battle to bring an abused dog back to Northern Ireland.

The 38-year-old County Antrim man was enjoying a river cruise in the jungle.

When the boat docked for lunch at a remote, uninhabited island, he saw the poor animal.

"She threw herself into the water, swam across and then limped over to me. I saw what a desperate state she was in," he said.

"There were vultures following her - that's how close she was to death," he added.

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Media captionNegrita was discovered on an island off the coast of Brazil.

Despite the cruelty the dog had experienced, she was friendly - her tail was wagging wildly.

Mr Foster asked the boat owner to send a drone up to check if there were any people living nearby, but there was no-one.

"At that moment I said: 'This dog cannot stay on this beach'.

Image copyright PlayforStrays
Image caption "Her ears were spilt, she was beaten, her skull was out of place and her back leg was damaged," said Mr Foster

"We think she was dumped there by fishermen," he added.

Named Negrita by Mr Foster, the crew got a four-legged addition for the rest of their trip.

The original plan was to find a rescue centre near São Paulo, but after seeing the massive amount of need among animals in the city, he changed his mind.

"It just wasn't an option, I couldn't leave her there," Mr Foster told BBC News NI.

Image copyright PlayforStrays
Image caption David Foster managed to get Negrita to São Paulo but it was only the start of a long road to bringing her home

"I had to bring her home to Northern Ireland."

Rescued from a painful death, Negrita's new adopted owner now faced a mountain of bureaucracy and red tape.

"The government vet in the jungle I was in wouldn't let her go, wouldn't let her fly," he said.

"I wouldn't go as far as bribery but let's just says there were people asking for money for help.

"It was a logistical nightmare."

Image copyright PlayforStrays

However, after a few weeks and two flights he managed to get her to São Paulo and a contact there helped him out.

Mr Foster travels a lot with his job and always bring toys for street dogs in every country he visits.

When he knows where he is going to be working, he gathers canine toys from people online.

He was able to use one of these contacts to look after Negrita while he tried to sort out the mountain of paperwork it would take to bring her home.

Image copyright PlayforStrays
Image caption She travelled 5,000 miles to get to Dublin, where Mr Foster picked her up

"The lady who minded her was amazing and ended up having her for five months, until I got the rest of the paperwork sorted."

So how is Negrita adjusting to life as a pampered pooch in Antrim?

Mr Foster said it's been something of a culture shock.

"When Negrita arrived home she was met with snow," he said.

Image copyright Play for Strays
Image caption She has come a long way physically since she was found on the beach

"She was frightened and scared having been on a long flight and now she's in a cold country, she would never have experienced cold before.

"Her bodily condition has improved so much - though the slices in her ears are still there, showing me that it's her."

She's finally learned her first command in English - sit, which she does with a bit of bribery and a few treats.

Negrita isn't the first animal Mr Foster has helped.

"I've always been into animal welfare and working with animals. At university I studied environmental science and became a safari guide for a few years," he said.

"I will be travelling to China with a charity to collect dogs which would have been destined for the meat trade later in the year.

"I rescue animals myself on a small scale, just the odd one here and there."

Image copyright Play for Strays
Image caption Negrita has been making friends with the other rescued animals in her new home

And with Negrita settling into her new home, he can focus on gathering toys for street dogs all over the world.

"The more light we can bring into the world for these creatures the better," he said.