In Bosnia, the stray dogs population is a huge problem. Because of the concern over dog bites and spread of disease, efforts have been made by various communities to remove dogs from the streets. Unfortunately, these efforts aren’t always the most compassionate.  Some of the strategies used in the past include transporting dogs to other areas, shooting them, or dumping them in dismal “animal shelters.” While the latter might sound like the best solution, the reality is that many of these shelters are anything but safe havens for needy animals.

The animal shelter in Jajce, a small town in Bosnia, is just one example that illustrates the conditions found in shelters. Here, emaciated dogs are attached to short chains, day and night, left to hide in fear in the corner of their barren shelters. Instead of comfy bedding, they have only a cold floor. Instead of regular veterinary care, they have to suffer through any health problems they encounter. And instead of tasty, nutritious food, they’re lucky if they even get a meal every day.

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Fortunately, this abuse is coming to an end thanks to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), one of the largest animal welfare and conservation charities in the world.

The Beginnings of Change

IFAW started working with the Municipality of Jajce in early 2014 as part of their collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Bosnia, working under their safer communities program. It soon became clear that homeless dogs – in the eyes of many communities in Bosnia – are a main security threat and one of their most pressing concerns. Because the UNDP lacked the expertise to tackle stray dog problems, they instead partnered to deliver a Humane Community Development Program, a unique and humane way of solving stray dog problems.

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“With UNDP as facilitators, we engage a broad set of stakeholders from across the community and help them assess the sources of their community’s concerns about dogs,’’ Kate Nattrass Atema, program director of IFAW, tells One Green Planet. “The group is then led through a process that allows them to design a tailored set of strategies for their community to address those issues. When the community has a plan that is broadly supported and to which they’ve committed their own resources, IFAW helps them overcome immediate barriers to implementation, which is usually veterinary equipment, training, or educational resources.’’

During the process, IFAW soon discovered that they were maintaining an animal shelter which kept dogs in dire conditions and ultimately, not getting to the root cause of the pet homelessness situation in Bosnia, which is mostly animal abandonment.

The community of Jajce agreed that this shelter must be closed down and the dogs re-homed. As a result, the IFAW agreed to help them close the shelter for good and provide forever homes for all the dogs who lived at the dismal shelter.

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From Bosnia to Germany: A Journey to Happiness

IFAW have recently partnered with the German organization, Streunergluck, which can be translated to “Stray Luck,’’ to coordinate the fostering and adoption of the dogs from the Jajce shelter as soon as they make the journey from Bosnia. Transporting dogs across borders is always a challenge, but the committed partners in Bosnia and Germany are set on rescuing these dogs and having them placed into loving forever homes.

With around 70 dogs at the shelter, they would have to be taken in at least two phases. Only 34 of the dogs have made the 75-mile journey to their destination while the rest lay in wait in Bosnia.

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How You Can Help

There are still more than 30 dogs waiting at the dire animal shelter in Jajce, deprived of health, freedom, and love. The team from IFAW and from Streunergluck will be returning to rescue the remaining dogs but in order to do that, they need your help to cover the cost of transportation and care.

You can help the Bosnian dogs to escape their misery and find forever homes by sending a donation to the IFAW today. All animals deserve to experience loving forever homes, and with the promise of a happy future so near insight for these pups, your help could make a lifetime of difference for these dogs!

To learn more about IFAW and their incredible work, check out their website.

All image source: IFAW/Flickr