Bosnia • ‘Helping Paws’ Shelter crisis (day 3)

Following our visit to the kennels, I asked Tanja if we were able to visit the shelter in crisis once more, as I felt I needed to collect more photos so I was able to portray the situation to the public. We passed a number of dogs on the roadside on the way to the shelter, and at the time I was unaware, but was later told that they were all part of a ‘spay and release’ project. It was all linked to the shelter crisis.

Basically, a local vet in the area began to accumulate dogs in a shelter and intended to neuter them and then release them back onto the streets. In countries where animals are not a priority this is common, and although the dogs are without homes, they are unable to reproduce and are often fed by villagers. However, many of these dogs weren’t being released, and the veterinary work was also far below average. Dogs were becoming infected, stitches were unravelling, wounds were opening and diseases were spreading. Some of the dogs that have tags in their ears (a way of showing people that they have been sterilised) were actually not spayed, thus causing the whole project to become a total joke.


The shelter that I was taken to was one belonging to this vet, but then I later learned that just around the corner was another ‘shelter’. We couldn’t access it but from the fences we could see numerous purebred German Shepherds, a Rottweiler, and a huge black dog standing on top of a dirt pile. We fed them food through the bars of the fencing but they were frantic and barking like crazy. Outside the fences there was a male and female German Shepherd wandering around on the road (the female was in heat despite having a tag in her ear indicating that she had been spayed), a wirehaired terrier with an open, infected wound from sterilisation, and a timid female that looked like she had recently given birth hobbling about on a broken limb. These were all dogs that ‘belonged’ to this project and indeed this ‘shelter’. It was a complete mess. We even noticed that there was a box full of pills and medication by the gate of the compound, obviously highly dangerous but apparently of no concern for this ‘vet’ who is supposed to be caring for them. We left food behind and took photos, but these poor animals were pining for love and we just couldn’t offer it to them. It was heartbreaking having to drive away and leave them in the road looking aimlessly after the car.


Moments later we arrived at the larger shelter (I wrote about this in my blog post yesterday). The girls that I had made contact with over Instagram after they explained the desperation of the situation (the reason I’m here) introduced me properly to all the dogs and let me inside their enclosures this time, so I was properly able to interact with them. The puppies there were either fighting for attention, or completely terrified, there was no inbetween. One had had his tail docked, another had her ribs on show. They were tiny, malnourished and scared. The poodle puppy I had made friends with yesterday had somehow managed to jump over the wall and get stuck in a trench that was running alongside the pen. He was in his element when I picked him up for a cuddle and I am desperate to find him a home. He is incredibly friendly, small in size, full of life and very loving. (See photo below).


I then went into the compound with all the larger dogs and they were overjoyed by my presence, they clearly lack a lot of human interaction. Whilst a couple were more nervous and didn’t properly approach me, they were actually more curious than yesterday, and the majority of them did come forward to say hello. They were all young dogs, but with incredibly bleak futures unless they can be removed from this hell-hole shelter and found proper homes. The only way to do this is to promote them one by one, find homes, get them places in private kennels whilst we vaccinate them and nurse them to full health, and then go from there. We can’t possibly remove all of them as we would have nowhere to put them and no funds to do so either. It would also mean that the dogs would be at risk of being forgotten about once they were in the kennels, as this often happens with campaigns shortly after they have begun.



Now to start publicly campaigning…


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