Dogs in Distress
Dogs are the most popular pets across the globe. Humanity in general care deeply for dogs and know that they care about us in return, offering us companionship, love and unshakeable loyalty. But statistics reveal that far too many dogs are in distress. According to National Geographic, there are more than 300 million street dogs worldwide. India alone is home to an estimated 35 million of them.
As the first domesticated species, dogs have been man’s best friend for a very long time. While the timing and location of dog domestication remains a controversy, several researchers believe that the event took place somewhere in northern Eurasia between 32,00 and 18,800 years ago. What we do know for sure is that our ancestors chose to live with dogs and even be buried with them. In exchange for picking the bones of hunts, ancient dogs defended humans against potential threats. Today, in similar fashion, dogs beg for our scraps and remain as protective as ever. Dogs have always had our well-being in mind… so why do so many people fail to show them kindness?
Suffering from extreme hunger, deadly disease and human cruelty, street dogs have an average lifespan of just three years. Network for Animals works to provide these poor creatures with food, safe shelter, and timely medical attention, including vital vaccinations and sterilizations. One of our focal points is the dog meat trade in Asia and parts of Africa where thousands of dogs are brutally slaughtered and sold for human consumption. Working with animal protection units and using our influence to lobby local government, it is our hope to bring this barbaric practice to an end once and for all. We understand the value of long-term solutions, which is why our organization also runs public awareness and educational outreach programs to change people’s mindsets about caring for their animals.
NFA’s “Dogs In Distress” campaign aims to give as many animals as possible a life free of pain and suffering. We support projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Italy, Mali, Mexico, Montenegro, Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Uruguay and Zimbabwe.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
In Trebinje, a small city in south Bosnia and Herzegovina, abandoned dogs lived in a hellish, decrepit, dangerous and unhygienic shelter. It perched on a rubbish dump where garbage was burnt daily. As soon as we saw the conditions the dogs were living in, we knew we had to help. Working tirelessly with the local municipality for the past two years, we constructed a state-of-the-art shelter, leading the way for a new approach to dealing with abandoned dogs in the region.
The new shelter (Azil Danica), almost entirely funded by NFA, was opened in May 2023, and we immediately relocated all 78 dogs to their new home. Each dog received a full health assessment, tests for common diseases, vaccine boosters as needed and a passport. The dogs are loving running in the large central playground and playing in the doggie paddling pool at the new shelter.
This is only the beginning, and we are committed to ensuring that the shelter lives up to its stated aim of “turning street dogs into pets” by providing funds for ongoing management and staff support, training, advice, and small contingency funds for dogs with exceptional health needs. Our biggest challenge going forward is to ensure that high standards of care are maintained, and that the City of Trebinje maintains its commitment to meeting these standards so that the dogs can find their forever homes as quickly as possible.
Ghost Dogs of Aspropyrgos
There are more than a million street dogs in Greece, many of them abandoned pets. COVID-19, following a massive financial crisis, made things so tough people could no longer afford to feed their dogs. Aspropyrgos, a huge, semi-rural area near the city of Athens, is a dumping ground for unwanted animals, once there the dogs face deprivation, starvation and the chilling prospect of being captured and used in illegal dog-fighting prevalent in the area’s numerous gypsy camps.
The dogs are so afraid that they become “ghost dogs”, so-called because when our team arrives to feed them, they appear, eat and then disappear into their hiding places like ghosts.
Together with our partner organization, Ghost Dogs of Aspropyrgos, we feed, provide veterinary care and sterilize street dogs and try to find them loving homes.
In Nairobi, Kenya, we support the Kenya Society for the Protection & Care of Animals (KSPCA), a shelter home to over 250 dogs. They are also on the frontline of emergency rescue, cruelty investigation and community-based animal welfare programmes. We provide the KSPCA with a monthly grant to help cover the cost of pet food and vital veterinary care. Recently, we also provided critical funding for the mass sterilization, vaccination and general treatment of street dogs in impoverished slums in Nairobi.
Al Rabee Society for Nature and Animal Protection (RSNAP) in Aqaba, Jordan
Ah Rabee Society for Nature and Animal Protection is a Jordan-based non-profit organization that was set up in 2013 by Rodica Athamneh. The Al Rabee shelter is the only shelter of its kind in Aqaba and is home to more than 500 dogs. For the past three years, we have supported the Al Rabee shelter with the care of their dogs and daily administration in a very remote area of Jordan where resources and assistance are very limited. Our regular support also helps cover sterilization campaigns, food and vet bills.In 2022, we assisted them with moving their shelter to much larger, better suited premises. We also assisted with the installation of solar panels to help mitigate the shortage of electricity supply.
When tragedy struck in 2023 and much of the new shelter was destroyed by devastating flash floods, Network for Animals once again stepped in by raising emergency funds for the shelter repair.
Al Rahmeh in Amman, Jordan
Al Rahmeh was established in 2017 by a group of animal lovers who wanted to counter the abuse and demonization of the ancient Canaan dog breed in Jordan and animals in general. Their pro-life shelter is home to around 60 dogs, and they also have cats in foster homes. In addition, they run a trap-neuter-release program to keep the local cat population healthy and controlled. A number of the animals they care for have special needs, including blind, three-legged and paralyzed dogs. Network for Animals has supported the Al Rahmeh shelter and the ongoing care of their dogs and cats for the past five years through regular monthly support, so that they may continue their mission to protect and advocate for the animals of Jordan.
In Mauritius, we support Second Chance Animal Rescue (SCAR), a sanctuary for 167 unwanted cats and dogs. With no suitable animal shelters in the region, founder Sameer “Sam” Golam was taking rescues into his own home. In December 2021, Sam was ordered to remove the animals from his house by February 2022, and that in failing to do so, every animal under Sam’s care would be at risk of being seized by the local municipality and killed. Network for Animals raised the funds to (temporarily) move the animals to safety. We have also found an appropriate replacement location and are financing the construction of a new shelter for the animals.
SCAR now cares for 70 dogs and 60 cats, living in foster homes, while the new shelter is expected to be fully equipped and ready for occupation by November 2023.
Fiona Animal Refuge (FAR)
In Hidalgo, Network for Animals supports the Fiona Animal Refuge (FAR), an animal shelter that focuses on reducing overpopulation and animal abuse. We provide FAR with a monthly grant to assist with food and essential veterinary care for street dogs. Recently, we provided funding for doggy wheelchairs for the paralyzed dogs who live there.
We support several projects in Montenegro, a small Balkan country which only became independent in 2006 following the break-up of Yugoslavia and the subsequent civil war. The country is still in a period of socio-economic transition Montenegro’s economy, based largely on tourism, which was significantly affected by two years of the Covid pandemic, and in 2022 is facing another poor tourism season because a large percentage of visitors usually come from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. Montenegro is on the EU accession path and a member of NATO. Animal welfare and associated reforms remain a low priority in the country. The projects that we support fall under the following broad categories:
Animal welfare legal reforms and awareness raising
We have previously funded a nationwide survey of all Montenegro’s animal shelters, and submitted it to the government. Subsequently, one of our partners in Montenegro, Tijana Kovačević from the Association for the Promotion of Coexistence Korina, was appointed to a national government animal welfare working group to revise animal welfare laws, giving Montenegro’s animals a voice at the highest level for the first time. We now fund Korina to provide an animal welfare legal advocacy project, offering support and representation for animal cruelty cases, training of municipal police to improve enforcement of animal welfare laws, monitoring and taking direct action to enforce the work of the competent authorities in prosecuting cases, and lobbying to include animal welfare issues in the criminal code of Montenegro.
We have also funded the distribution of educational materials on animal care to schools.
Support to improve municipal dog shelters
We endeavor to work alongside municipal authorities to make lasting improvements to dog shelters, where conditions are often very poor. Much of this work involves direct action on the ground.
In Nikšić, the country’s second-largest city, we provided funds for shelter improvements in return for its commitment to change the shelter to a no-kill shelter and to take a broader approach to dog population management. We provided insulated water tanks, fencing, kennels, CCTV and medical care, and equipped a medical clinic at the shelter. In Nikšić, we also fund the NGO NUZZ to provide a feeding project for street dogs who do not live at the shelter, making sure they get a daily meal. The municipality also now funds a TNR (trap, neuter, return) programme.
In Kotor we have provided a puppy house, and funds for a new quarantine area to reduce the risk of death of newly arrived unvaccinated dogs and puppies.
In Kolasin and Ulcinj we are lobbying the municipalities to develop sustainable solutions to the problem of dog over-population, abandonment of street dogs and shelter care.
Support to improve the care of abandoned dogs
A handful of individuals, despite themselves living in conditions of economic hardship, continue to show their humanity by rescuing and caring for Montenegro’s many abandoned, neglected and sick street dogs. We endeavor to help as many of these small private shelters as we can, by providing funds for essentials such as food, medical care, kennels and fencing. In a farming area near Nikšić, for example, we support an impoverished farmer named Zelijana Delibasic who cares for a large group of abandoned street dogs and numerous feral cats in and around her property. We regularly provide food for her 33 dogs and numerous cats, and have funded microchips, vaccinations ,parasite treatments and the construction of a shared kennel to provide the dogs with shelter from snow and icy winds. We have also promised to provide fencing to prevent the animals from running into the busy main road nearby.
In Kolasin, located in the mountainous north of Montenegro, Network for Animals provides funds for regular food deliveries to 150 street dogs living in a hugely underfunded shelter run single-handedly by Danijela Vuksanovic, who is suffering from advanced cancer. In the winter we also delivered a number of new heavily insulated kennels to protect them from the bitter snow and cold. We hope to raise further funds for new fencing to allow the most traumatized dogs their own safe areas to run in.
Near the capital of Podgorica, we support Mirjana Vasilijevic who runs a small shelter for about 50 dogs, numerous cats, chickens, geese, rabbits and pigeons! Mirjana receives no regular funding, and so we have provided funds to enable her to sterilise 35 dogs, and to build a small new kennel area to allow her to take boarding dogs for holiday care to provide a more sustainable source of income.
We also provide emergency care for individual dogs picked up by rescuers whenever we can, and in the past year have funded emergency medicines for dogs with leishmaniasis, a wheelchair for a dog horrifically injured when hit by a train and long term care for a dog with a broken spine. We are continually assessing new requests for help.
Protect Xai-Xai’s Furry Friends (PXXFF) in Xai-Xai
Network for Animals supports a cat and dog sterilization clinic in the rural area of Xai-Xai in Mozambique. This sterilization program hasn’t only curbed the birth of unwanted animals, but has helped to improve the overall health of the animals of the region.
Our team began helping animals in the Philippines in 1981 when our founder, Brian Davies (then the founder and CEO of the International Fund for Animal Welfare) was first alerted to the brutality of the dog meat trade. At the time, we found thousands of dogs muzzled, forelegs twisted and tied behind their backs and lying in the dirt and heat in open public markets. When purchased, these poor animals were then loaded into trucks and jeeps delivered to customers who slaughtered then and sold their meat to restaurants.
NFA began campaigning on the issue in the late 1990s. A tremendous amount has been accomplished and countless lives have been saved since then, but there is still work to do.
Two animal welfare laws were conceptualized and initiated (and then passed): the Animal Welfare Law and Anti-Rabies Act. These have been effectively used to completely shut down the dog meat trade in the Manila metropolitan area. The trade is now limited to a few remote regions near Baguio and, working with local partners, we continue to fight it via raids/intercepts and prosecutions. The rescued dogs are provided veterinary care, found foster care and eventually forever homes.
Over the years, our team has overseen several unique programs that have also made a difference. Scholarship grants were awarded to elementary school children (grades 4-6) who showed kindness to animals. Many new veterinarians participated in a project where they were provided financial support if they committed to establish their practice in remote areas where there were no qualified veterinary practices. Our team organized numerous free spay/neuter clinics, a nationwide free anti-rabies program and introduced education campaigns in media as well as at schools and in barangays.
Today, enforcement is the key to completely end the illegal dog meat trade. To stamp out this despicable trade forever will hinge on continuing to expose the abuse and killing and by working with local partners, undercover investigators, police and the judiciary – to bring offenders to justice.
More recently NFA has tackled the outrageously cruel practice of organized horse fighting on the island of Mindanao. A mare in season is tied in the middle of an arena and two stallions then fight for her, sometimes to the death. The criminal gangs who conduct the fights will stop at nothing to keep them going because of the huge sums of money wagered on fight outcomes. We work with law enforcement to close down a venue the moment we know of an impending fight, and we work with the authorities to prosecute offenders.
On Mindanao, NFA was also instrumental in constructing the first sanctuary there for abused dogs.
Network for Animals is a registered charity in South Africa, which is home to some of our most important campaigns. In a country that is suffering from massive government corruption which has devastated essential services, the need has never been greater for the nation’s street dogs. We work with multiple local organizations and shelters on the ground to help ease their suffering:
Calvinia, South Africa
In the impoverished farming town of Calvinia in South Africa, a broken economy has left animals starving. We work with partners on the ground to sterilize the animals of Calvinia’s Blikkiesdorp township and to provide critically needed veterinary care, treatment and food to the hundreds of dogs and cats who live there. Since our work began there in 2021, we have helped bring hundreds of animals back from the brink of death, conducted several mass sterilization drives, and delivered literal tons of pet food. We continue to work closely with the community to help keep their animals healthy and fed
Fallen Angels Pet Rescue focuses on the rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming of domestic animals that are Forgotten, Abandoned (abused), Lost, Lonely, Emaciated and Neglected (FALLEN). Network for Animals has been supporting Fallen Angels for the past five years through providing food, funding sterilization drives and assisting with emergency dog and cat rescues and rehabilitation.
Dogs are often condemned to lives of misery in the Westlake township, located in the South African city of Cape Town. Rife with poverty and crime, animals there are often subjected to neglect, starvation, abuse, dogfighting and over-breeding. We support Fur-Get-Me-Knot, a small group of volunteers who are dedicated to helping the animals there. Together with Fur-Get-Me-Knot, we help the animals of Westlake by providing food, medical care and vital vaccinations, and sterilization. We also educate owners on how to properly care for their animals.
KZN Valley Dogs
Every Sunday, KZN Valley Dogs ventures into South Africa’s Valley of a Thousand Hills near Durban to feed and provide medical care for mistreated dogs in rural and impoverished communities. Here, dogs are exploited by illegal syndicates known as “taxi hunts.” This barbaric sport sees groups of up to 30 men and packs of more than 100 starved and frightened street dogs set out to kill. Dogs in these hunts are deliberately starved and are then sent to hunt small animals. Dogs are rated and bets are placed, and those that don’t “make money” are killed, often in gruesome ways. Even more are abandoned with broken bones and festering wounds.
Working with a small group of good-hearted volunteers, Network for Animals seeks to change the horrific situation for dogs in this area. We support KZN Valley Dogs by financing rescue missions, critically needed food and emergency veterinary intervention for countless battered and bruised dogs.
Hangberg is a South African slum near Cape Town, where 28,000 people live in grinding poverty and squalor. Riots and lawlessness are commonplace. The area is a base for gangsters involved in illegal dogfighting. Working with local activist Shaygam Newman, Network for Animals has made substantial progress in feeding and providing veterinary care for the community’s dogs.
Orphaned as a child, Shaygam was so abused by a drunken uncle that he slept on the streets, finding love with the street dogs who kept him warm at night. He swore to repay the dogs, and today he is their voice, their champion.
With NFA’s help, local animal activist Shaygam Newman rescues and cares for many dogs in his community of Hangberg, South Africa. In 2016, Network for Animals started guiding Shaygam on how to help dogs more effectively. He now feeds, dips and rescues many of the community’s dogs. Many of the dogs Shaygam rescues were destined to end up torn to pieces in dog fighting pits. Gangsters see dogs as expendable commodities to be exploited for profit.
These horrible people torture dogs, starve them, lock them in small cages for months at a time, before throwing them into a pit to be torn to death by dogs trained to do just that. Shaygam can’t fight the gangsters alone so he recruited ‘Shaygam’s Crew’, a team of local youngsters to teach people kindness to animals and to patrol and protect the area’s animals.
Network for Animals supports TEARS (The Emma Animal Rescue Society) in Cape Town, South Africa. TEARS is one of the country’s preeminent animal welfare organizations, working around-the-clock to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome hundreds of dogs every year. The TEARS dog shelter is well run and provides excellent veterinary care. Of particular importance are its outreach programs in impoverished communities. Teams rescue and rehome street dogs and provide care for pets whose owners cannot afford sterilizations and medical treatment. Our supporters have allowed us to help animals at TEARS for close to a decade by providing funding for much-needed food, vital search and rescue missions, equipment and veterinary care. Most recently, we have helped them buy a new outreach vehicle, tough enough to withstand the poor roads in township areas.
We are a source of hope for Spanish hunting dogs
In Spain, hunting dogs – known as galgos – are tortured in their thousands each year. These poor creatures are frequently subjected to the horrifying fate of being exploited for one hunting season and then cruelly tortured and discarded like trash. The depth of suffering they endure is unimaginable: they are starved, hurled into dark wells, savagely beaten, targeted in shooting practices, poisoned or, possibly worst of all, hung alive from trees. We cannot stand idly by with clear conscience as this abuse persists.
We are working with two organizations – Foundation Jadoul and PACMA – who work tirelessly to provide the best possible care to animals in need, like abused, traumatized and discarded galgos. With your support for this project, we can help to treat, rehabilitate and rehome these animals so they never again have to feel the brutal hand of abuse ever again.
In Tanzania, Network for Animals supports the Arusha Society for the Protection of Animals (ASPA), a small but dedicated organization that works tirelessly to improve the overall welfare of Tanzania’s suffering street dog population. In addition to the monthly grant we provide for food and veterinary supplies, NFA helps finance emergency rescues, regular mobile clinics and educational outreach programs.
Turkey is the scene of an appalling animal welfare scandal. In a 20-square mile (50-square kilometer) area around Tepecik in southeastern Turkey, there are thousands of abandoned or wild dogs who exist by foraging on the diseased carcasses of chickens, dumped by egg-factories in the area.
Local authorities who by law must provide shelter, food and medical care for the dogs, do not do so.
There are two municipal feeding stations for the dogs but never any food in them. The only sources of water are streams polluted by effluent from local factories.
When an animal lover exposed the scandal, the authorities took him to court, alleging he killed dogs to create bad publicity for Turkey.
The area where the dogs live consists of forest, wilderness and fields. There are 200 chicken farms in the area and a large number of fertilizer factories. The dogs survive by eating the carcasses of diseased chickens dumped by the farms and, we are sad to report, by cannibalism of puppies.
Network for Animals has exposed shocking conditions at the chicken farms – conditions that breach Turkish law and international hygiene standards. Because so many dogs are dying, we are lobbying the government to test the level of toxins in streams polluted by fertilizer. So far, the authorities have not honored promises to do so.
A small animal shelter has been constructed near the town which houses only 50 dogs. We later obtained a sworn confession from a former municipal worker saying he and his colleagues had been forced to illegally kill or abandon some 14,000 dogs over a 20-year period on the instruction of local officials.
NFA lobbied the Turkish government asking the officials to step in and ensure that the dogs have the humane care prescribed under Turkish law. Action was promised but the situation remains unchanged.
We have supported Montevideo’s animal shelter, A.P.A El Refugio, since 2018. Even with no support from local authorities, the shelter tirelessly cares for 360 street dogs and 40 cats. Network for Animals helps cover the monthly cost of expensive food and specialist medical care. In recent years, El Refugio has been overwhelmed by gangsters, fire and flood. Thus, we also provide the shelter with emergency funding for essential supplies during times of crisis.
The Friend of Animal Foundation (FAF)
In Zimbabwe, we support Harare’s Friend Animal Foundation (FAF). Following the death of its previous owner, FAF was on the brink of financial ruin and closure. Hundreds of animals were at risk of being euthanized by the authorities. With the help of our generous supporters, Network for Animals kept the doors of FAF open, initially delivering 4,134 pounds of food to the dogs and providing staff to help care for the animals. We continue to assist FAF with much-needed renovations and improvements for all the animals in its care. Alongside almost 500 canine residents, the no-kill shelter is a sanctuary for 145 cats, horses, goats and a donkey.