Bosnia and Herzegovina
In Trebinje, a city in the south of Bosnia and Herzegovina, dogs are the responsibility of garbage disposal and are dumped on the local rubbish dump. The dogs live in a thick daily plague of flies and insects, that spread diseases and cause irritation and skin infections. They breathe a constant fog of smoke from burning waste. We have committed to an exciting and ambitious project to change the lives of the dogs forever, and to improve their chances of finding forever homes – with our help, a new dog shelter is to be built in a more suitable location. We have identified a suitable state-owned site and are working with City officials to design and build a state-of-the-art shelter where the dogs will be well cared for. The shelter will be large enough to re-house all the dogs in new and modern conditions, designed with their welfare as the primary concern.
Cats of Ithaca, Meganisi and Kefalonia (CIAMK)
Before COVID, in summer, life was easy for Greek street cats because tourists and restaurant owners fed them. Winter is always a much sadder story because street cats find their food supplies vanish with the tourists. The COVID-19 pandemic put an end to the tourists and now hunger is their constant companion throughout the year. The situation on the Greek islands is particularly severe because very few people spend winters there. Network for Animals funds spay and neuter programs and provides food for street cats on the islands of Kefalonia, Ithaca and Meganisi.
Ghost Dogs of Aspropyrgos
There are more than a million street dogs in Greece and many of them are 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, has become a dumping ground for unwanted animals, who 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 feeds 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 July 2023: Wildfires broke out across large swathes of Greece, includes on Rhodes and Corfu, and around the capital, Athens. The wildfires – of which at least 80 were recorded – left animals trapped, helpless and alone as people fled to save themselves.
With our supporters’ help, we rushed funds for emergency rescue missions, food, animal transport crates and medical supplies to our partners on the ground: Corinthia Animal Rescue (CAR), Make it Pawsible (MIP) and Alma Libre – Hellenic Animal Rescue (ALHAR). These brave teams ventured into burnt, smouldering areas, saving terrified, trapped animals from death and providing life-saving treatment.
During times of crisis, animals are often the forgotten victims, left behind or abandoned as rescue teams fight to save human lives. We will always be on the ground when disaster strikes, dedicating our efforts to saving every animal life we can.
On the Greek island of Santorini, we expose horrific cruelty inflicted on donkeys every day in the peak of the summer. Donkeys and mules are forced to carry tourists up and down a 1300-foot (400 meter) high cliff all day in the baking sun without shade, food or water.
Donkey owners say if they provided food, the donkeys would defecate and soil the path, upsetting tourists.
Some donkeys have open wounds, others have crude wire muzzles over their mouths to prevent them from eating. The donkeys’ working hours are supposed to be regulated but the authorities have done nothing because of the money donkey-owners (called “muleteers”) rake in from visitors.
In 2018, the municipal authorities promised to improve working conditions for the donkeys by providing drinking troughs at points on the cliff path. This did not happen. When our team visited the island again in July 2019, they were attacked and whipped by the donkey owners. The police did nothing, saying they were on lunch.
We will continue to press for a long-term solution to the problem of donkey exploitation on Santorini. The latest information we have is that, in spite of many promises by the authorities to investigate the situation, nothing is happening and the donkeys are still being abused.
We support several projects in Montenegro, a small Balkan country which only became independent in 2006 and is still in a period of socio-economic transition following the break-up of Yugoslavia and the subsequent civil war. Montenegro’s economy, based largely on tourism, 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 relatively 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.