First, the good news. The mayor of Dubrovnik, Andro Vlahušić, has gone, forced to step down by his own council. Dubrovnik’s stray dogs would be cheering if they could because he wanted to condemn 300 of them to certain death.
Now, the bad news. He has left the 300 dogs at the Zarcovica Animal shelter in a nightmare situation. Because he failed to provide support for the only shelter in Dubrovnik, their only hope is a few brave women and Network for Animals.
Unusually cold and stormy winter weather has left the dogs shivering, wet and at risk of illness on the top of the mountain. The mayor lied when he told Network for Animals he had bought 120 dog houses for $57,000 (£46,000 / €53,000). These houses do not exist.
Network for Animals has 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. But now we need to do so much more – we need to raise more money for housing, food and medical treatment.
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A handful of remarkably dedicated women, under the leadership of Sandra Sambrailo, have fought to keep the 300 dogs safe after the mayor vowed to close Zarcovica. He even sent armed police to oversee the seizure of some of the animals so they could be taken to places where they would be killed. The women guard the dogs day and night.
Because the mayor did not provide Zarcovica with running water or electricity, Sandra and her team shelter in an unheated container, in sub-zero temperatures and hand-carry buckets of water and bags of food up the mountain to feed and water the dogs.
For Sandro Sambrailo and her team at Zarcovica, the next few months are critical. There will be no new mayor until the elections in May and that means no help for the dogs until then at the earliest.
As animal lovers we stand shoulder to shoulder with Sandra and her team. We have promised more aid but we can only provide it with your support. Please find it in your heart to give generously so that we can keep alive the dogs in distress in Dubrovnik.