Increasingly, in much of the enlightened world, there is a sense of companionship and understanding between caring dog owners and their cherished animal companions. These relationships are mutually beneficial, incredibly rewarding and never stop deepening. If only ALL dogs were so lucky.
Network for Animals’ ‘Dogs In Distress’ campaign aims to give as many dogs as possible, a life free of pain and suffering – a life full of joy and compassion – a life protected by the governments of the countries in which they live, and a life supported by caring and responsible people.
The sad truth is that for many dogs, their lives are nasty, brutish and short. Network for Animals helps wherever we can to change that. Our first campaign began in 1998 when we started fighting the illegal dog meat trade in the Philippines. It took us more than 20 years, but the trade is now illegal, even though it continues underground.
Sadly, as this campaign progressed, we became increasingly aware of the worldwide suffering of dogs outside of the dog meat trade. Poisoning, starvation, abandonment, overpopulation and abuse claim millions of canine lives each year. This is often at the hands of individuals, but also through neglect by governments and local authorities.
We have learned that one of the most useful things we can do is to raise public awareness about the appalling cruelty to dogs that takes place throughout the world. Thanks to our supporters, we have achieved significant improvements in many cases.
Here are some of our worldwide projects:
In late 2016, Network for Animals began work with the Zarcovica Animal Shelter in Dubrovnik, home to 300 desperate dogs. Dubrovnik does not have a municipal shelter and so street dogs rely on volunteer workers at Zarcovica. We provide financial assistance and pay for a worker to help care for the animals. We are also working with Mato Francovic, the mayor of Dubrovnik, to create a modern municipal shelter.
Network for Animals provided Zarcovica with funds to build more enclosures and helped pay for all 300 dogs to be vaccinated – an essential condition the Croatian government laid down if the shelter is to remain open.
Network for Animals has been helping dogs in Greece since 2015, when a financial crisis in the country caused a tremendous increase in abandoned pets. Abandoned dogs roam industrial parks, derelict factories, and waste ground. They are hungry, homeless, and often in need of medical attention. Four years later, there is still an enormous problem.
We partner with Ghost Dogs of Aspropyrgos, a dedicated band of volunteers who do their best, with very limited resources, to feed hungry animals, take care of their veterinary needs and offer hope to dogs living in dreadful circumstances. Network for Animals provides financial support to Ghost Dogs for dog food and medical care and are working with them to create a convalescent home for street dogs who are recovering from illness or operations.
We also provide funds for emergency rescues and natural disasters, such as the forest fires that periodically wreak havoc for animals in the hot, dry Greek summer.
Support for dogs in Pantelleria
Pantelleria BAU is the only animal shelter on the Italian island of Pantelleria. Network for Animals has provided funding for food and veterinary care. In 2018, the work of our founders, Brian and Gloria Davies, was recognized by local authorities who unveiled a plaque honouring their worldwide contribution to animal welfare.
Fighting for pitbulls in Sicily
The Rifugio del Cane Abbandonato della Favorita shelter in Palermo provides a safe haven for hundreds of street dogs, with a special emphasis on helping dogs rescued from organized dog fighting. We recently donated funds for special accommodation for two pit bulls who would otherwise have been euthanized. We also provide food and veterinary care.
When a devastating earthquake and resulting tsunami struck Fukushima in April 2011, three nuclear reactors began to leak radiation at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, in Japan. People were forced to leave. Untold numbers of animals were left behind. One man stayed to help them. Naoto Matsumura believed the lives of animals were worth more than his and to this day, every day, he is still there, helping some of the most forsaken animals on earth!
Naoto Matsumura, ‘the most radioactive man in Japan’.
The tsunami-sodden ground is soaked with radiation and Naoto laughs when he tells us that he’s been called the “most radioactive man in Japan.” The area is still radioactive and off-limits to most people; the animals there would die without Naoto’s help. Network for Animals is helping Naoto by providing funding for cattle feed and other food.
In 2018, we raised public awareness about the mass shooting of street dogs in Jordan and helped persuade the government to intervene. We have helped rescue street dogs and supplied food and medication for them. We persuaded the mayor of Araq, a town just north of Amman, to stop killing street dogs and are working with local animal welfare organization Al Rahmeh, to create a special animal protection unit and write proposed new legislation, strengthening punishments for animal abusers.
In 2019, we learned that a dog meat trade has sprung up in Jordan, to cater for the increasing number of Chinese people working in factories in Jordan.
We are rescuing as many dogs as we can and helping Al Rahmeh with additional funds, while the dogs wait for new homes.
We are now expanding our work in Montenegro, a small Balkan country which only became independent in 2006 and is still emerging from a civil war that ended in 1995. We provided funds for a nationwide survey of all Montenegro’s animal shelters and, together with a critique, have submitted this to government which is preparing new animal welfare laws. We have also provided educational materials on animal care to schools.
Much of our work there is direct action on the ground. We work with the city of Nikšić, the country’s second-largest city, to help run the municipal dog shelter which, before our involvement, was merely a holding pen, before killing the animals. It is now a no-kill shelter. We have provided water, fencing, kennels and medical care and are now raising funds to equip a medical clinic at the shelter.
In the tourist town of Bar, street dogs receive no care at all from authorities, and roam sick, breeding uncontrollably. We donate funds to assist local volunteers to feed them and provide them with veterinary care. We are meeting with local authorities to discuss the creation of a municipal shelter.
In Ulcinj, we have exposed disgraceful conditions in the municipal shelter, where dogs often go hungry and where if they get sick, they are killed. We are in talks with local authorities to end this disgrace.
Since 1998, Network for Animals, in partnership with local animal protection organizations, has led the fight to end the brutal illegal dog meat trade in the Philippines. Every year, thousands of dogs, many of them stolen pets, are slaughtered in barbaric conditions; a large percentage die while being transported. Those who survive the journey are killed in makeshift slaughterhouses. Despite hard-fought-for legislation, the industry continues to exist because laws are not actively enforced by local police.
Dog meat traders acquire animals by stealing pets, rounding up strays and purchasing unwanted dogs. Upon acquisition, a dog’s muzzle is often bound with nylon string, then the dog is left for days without food or water in temperatures that often exceed 86 °F (30°C). Once acquired, the trussed dogs are crammed so tightly into wire or bamboo cages, they are literally unable to move. The lucky ones are forced against the cage walls and may manage to get some fresh air in the stifling heat. The dogs in the middle or bottom of the load are less fortunate and regularly suffocate or die of heat stroke. Conditions, while caged, regularly generate pre-slaughterhouse mortality rates of 40-50 percent. This is of no concern to the dog meat traders, who butcher and sell the dead and then kill the living.
In the illegal, makeshift slaughterhouses, dogs are usually slaughtered by having their throats cut, but are also sometimes scalded and clubbed to death. The fur is often singed off with a blowtorch, to create a charred appearance, which is popular with customers. As you will imagine, veterinary observers report extreme levels of suffering and anxiety among the dogs.
Dog meat eating was banned in Manila in 1982 and nationwide in 1998 under the Philippine Animal Welfare Act (Republic Act (RA) 8485), with exemptions for dogs killed and eaten as part of indigenous rituals. With NFA and other NGO support, the national ban was bolstered by the Rabies Act (RA 9482) and the meat code of the Philippines (RA10536), which upgraded penalties for convicted dog meat traders to include jail time and substantially increased fines as a means of limiting the spread of rabies.
NFA’s animal welfare campaigning within the Philippines promotes rabies awareness alongside other health concerns involved in the dog meat trade. Around 10,000 dogs and 350 humans die of rabies in the Philippines, each year. Our team regularly work in Philippine schools, and reports of our raids are regularly broadcast on Philippine news networks.
Our team operate a network of informants across the Philippines, monitor suspected slaughtering locations and smuggling vehicles, and organize raids to tackle the traders. Persuading local police, meat inspection services and veterinarians to take part is time consuming, expensive and difficult. Raids are dangerous, and guns have been discovered in raided compounds as recently as 2016. One of our workers was kidnapped and held hostage by dog meat traders. But, these are risks that have to be taken because only our continued action against the dog meat trade will bring the brutality to an end.
In 1998, trucks stuffed with live dogs were still visible on the streets of the Philippines, despite the existing laws. Today, we have forced the trade underground, but scores of bars and restaurants still serve dog meat when they think we are not in the area. Most of the dogs are sourced in the provinces of Batangas and Laguna to the south of Manila, then transported live to the provinces of Benguet, La Union and Ilocos Sur where they are slaughtered and consumed.
NFA has helped achieve major reductions in the Philippine consumption of dog meat. It is now almost unheard of in the capital of Metro Manila, and widely considered an embarrassment to the nation’s reputation. With your support, NFA will continue to fight the dog meat trade, until it is ended once-and-for-all.
Network for Animals helped save the lives and secure the future of 640 dogs that live at Sasha’s Shelter in Niš, in southern Serbia.
When Sasha, a truly brave and devoted animal lover, laid criminal charges of animal cruelty against the municipal pound – a place where there is overwhelming evidence of appalling cruelty – the authorities responded by threatening to close Sasha’s Shelter.
Thanks to an international outcry instigated by Network for Animals, the dogs were saved and the municipal pound placed under strict new regulation. Volunteers now have the right to remove any dog they feel is being ill-treated or not receiving appropriate medical care.
Fallen Angels is a search and rescue shelter for injured and abandoned dogs and cats, in Yzerfontein, in South Africa’s Western Cape, a rural area with a large population of poor people. Fallen Angels is home to 350 dogs and 40 cats, all of which are spayed and neutered and available for adoption. Staffed entirely by volunteers who take no salaries, the shelter provides an essential service, without which many dogs would die. Network for Animals provides funds for food, veterinary care and essential infrastructure. In addition, we finance regular search and rescue missions and provide emergency funding. We recently donated a small truck to help them on search and rescue missions.
Network for Animals collaborates with The Emma Animal Rescue Society (TEARS), in a drive to give hundreds of dogs in the Vrygrond shantytown a happier, healthier life. Vrygrond is a very poor area of Cape Town where many people have barely enough food to feed their families. Network for Animals is committed to helping TEARS ensure that all the dogs in the area are spayed or neutered, treated for disease and monitored on a weekly basis.
Help for the poor dogs of Hangberg
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 cruel gangsters who are involved in illegal dogfighting.
Working with 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.
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, and we are assisting him to obtain a driver’s licence to make it easier for him to get sick animals to a vet.
Many of the dogs Shaygam saves faced ending 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 teaches people kindness to animals and uses funds we provide to patrol and protect the area’s animals, providing food, love and care. He rescues dogs whenever he can.
Shaygam has a healing gift. He can heal dogs that vets would deem lost causes, almost miraculously turning them into well-adjusted happy dogs.
Shaygam tries to set a good example and recruits what he calls “Shaygam’s crew,” youngsters from the area, who normally would be tempted by gangs to lead a life of crime. He teaches them instead to love and care for animals.
Thanks to our supporters, we are able to support the Thai Animal Sanctuary, a brave rescue group operating out of a remote and poverty-stricken corner of Thailand. The selfless efforts of the Thai Animal Sanctuary mean that hundreds, and ultimately thousands of dogs and cats have a chance at life that simply did not exist before.
Were it not for their on-site veterinarian, the closest care for gravely ill and injured animals would mean an arduous four-hour journey. For puppies like Potato who was born with a deformed spine, Thai Animal Sanctuary has literally been the difference between life and death.
Turkey is the scene of an appalling animal welfare scandal. In a 50-square kilometer area around Tavşanli, and Tepecik in south eastern 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 source of water are streams polluted by effluent from local factories. There is no veterinary care and no sterilization programs.
When an animal lover exposed the scandal, the authorities took him to court, alleging he killed dogs to create bad publicity for Turkey. This is one of the most disgraceful scandals that NFA has ever uncovered.
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 fertiliser 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 honoured 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.
In part because of international pressure, many dogs in the Tavşanli area have now been sterilized, but the pollution continues unabated, and the situation in Tepecik is unchanged.
NFA is in contact with the Turkish government asking the officials to step in and ensure that the dogs have the humane care prescribed under Turkish law. We are also seeking to raise public awareness about the scandalous situation.
NFA support the APA El Refugio animal shelter in Montevideo, the only animal shelter in the city and one that gets no help from authorities. El Refugio’s philosophy is to take special care of elderly dogs, who often need expensive medication and extra care.