Summary is that NGOs, rescuers, activists and ordinary people have had to find a way to save as many animals as possible. Because of this awful and paradoxical situation, many private shelters – kennels – called “pensions” have been built in Bosnia. Rescuers are forced, at great financial cost, to take their rescues to these pensions since they cannot keep a lot of dogs at their home. Many rescuers have in fact turned their homes into shelters, but the difficulties here are enormous and there is a limited number they can keep.
When a Bosnian rescuer finds a wounded or abused stray dog or cat, they must take all responsibility if they are to rescue the animal: they must take the dog or cat to the vet on their own and they have to pay veterinary costs and costs of pensions in order to save the lives of these strays. This is the only way to save stray dogs and cats in this country, and yet all these things are actually the obligation of the Bosnian authorities. But, not only do rescuers do the authorities’ job, many of them are actually attacked by the Bosnian authorities because every time a rescuer saves the life of a stray animal, the rescuer is actually preventing the authorities from catching and then killing that animal – which means they are preventing them from pocketing money. Bosnian authorities use public dog shelters and dog catching services to launder money from the budget by killing stray animals and then pocketing money that is in fact meant for food and veterinary services for these animals. The more dogs the rescuers rescue, the fewer animals the authorities can use in these illegal money-making activities.
After 15 years of rescue work and hundreds of saved and adopted animals, I can tell you that running an animal rescue is not an easy job. There are a staggering number of animals who need help every day and if a rescuer can or cannot intervene, it’s often a case of life or death for the animal.
People often tell me they can’t visit animal shelters in Bosnia because it makes them sad. Animal shelters make Bosnian rescuers sad, too, but we refuse to let our emotions get in the way of saving lives. We understand we can’t save them all but we can and do make a difference. Alone, rescuers have shed many tears for animals they can’t save. But they get up the next day and get back into the ring as they fight for those creatures who can’t speak for themselves.
The number of lives we can save is dictated by the amount of funds raised and every adoption is a victory and a joy.
Responsibility of the animal rescuers is huge. Thousands of lives depend on us and our ability to find places to keep them safe, provide a veterinary care and find right forever homes.
Responsibility to save a being’s life is the biggest responsibility in the world. If we fail to provide the right care for saved animals, we fail to save their lives. There is a famous quote saying: “In rescuing animals I lost my mind, but I found my soul“. This is an absolute truth.
Rescue isn’t a verb, it is a promise that every rescuer gives animals.
You must make sure that whatever actions you take are in the best interest of the animals, and when you live in Bosnia it is very difficult to have the best solutions if you want to save a dog or cat’s life. Rescuers are often forced to choose between saving lives and finding finances to pay for pensions and veterinary care needed for their existing rescues. But it is a price we all pay for the situation in our country.
Rescuing doesn’t end once an animal is out of a death situation. It is important to take the time necessary with each animal and make sure that all the proper steps are taken to find them a loving, permanent home. Rescuing animals is a very high stress endeavour. Caring for them requires 24 hour a day, 7 days a week and there is an additional huge stress because of the fundraising needed to be done to do the work and to keep the animals safe. Fundraising is almost a full time job. It is important not to underestimate the amount of care and the level of commitment that is necessary to save animals in Bosnia.
As rescuers we know that every time we save an animal there is the possibility that this animal can make a profound impact on one person’s life. We dream of a day when our services won’t be needed, where there is a loving home waiting for every dog and cat in the world.