Today I want to write about a cause that’s dear to me as an animal lover. I have lived in Shkoder for five years and for all this time I have watched the number of stray dogs and cats increase in the city. In the beginning it was very distressing to see all these dogs roaming around on every street corner, every street, it seemed there were hundreds of them just roaming, hungry, looking for a place to hide. As time passed I got used to seeing them so it didn’t seem as awful as it did in the beginning, as with anything in life you get accustomed to your surroundings. However, it still is a sorry sight to see, especially when you love dogs as much as I do.
In the last few years efforts have been made to sterilize the dogs in order to curb the population. A new non-profit organization was founded in 2012 by two local ladies who began by taking dogs home and nurturing them back to health. This beginning evolved into a larger task, one that now involves over 70 stray dogs which are being housed in a ‘kennel’ on the outskirts of the city. The location for the kennel has been donated by a generous landowner who had the space to house it. Through some volunteers an area on the property was fenced in and some kennels erected to house most of the dogs but not all of them. A good portion of them roam the property within the fenced-in area but don’t have separate kennel areas.
Today I visited the kennel for the first time. I came across a puppy on my daily walk which propelled me to contact the lady who runs the kennel, Izabela, who in turn welcomed me to the site for a visit. I have to say that coming from the USA, where the culture toward animals is one of unparalleled proportions, it really is, seeing this kennel left me a bit unraveled. First, I have to give great kudos to Izabela. What she is doing, all by herself is a feat unfathomable to most people in the western world. She takes care of these animals as if they were her own. She goes to school in the morning, goes to the kennel in the afternoons and then to work in the evening. She’s truly amazing. But…there is always a but, she needs help! As much as she’s done and tries to do the work is overwhelming. Her love for the animals is truly evident through her interaction with them but she’s doing it all, and frankly I don’t know how she’s been doing it for 4 years. She does have a volunteer who comes to clean once a day and another girl who tries to come and help at feeding time but that’s it. Her FB page is maintained by another friend and a website should be coming shortly.
Secondly, and this is the important part, the funds to keep up are far and few in between. She’s struggling to keep up with the purchase of food needed for the animals, struggling to buy supplies for the dogs ie: food bowls, blankets, dog houses, etc. The local vet, Rubin, is a God send. He’s my vet and is very caring and loving to the animals and he donates most of his spare time to sterilize and treat the animals that come to the kennel. But bills are mounting and funds are short.
These few videos will give you an idea of what we are dealing with. Albania’s culture toward animals is very, very minimal. Most Albanians see dogs as working animals not pets, so to try and instill a different attitude regarding these wonderful animals is very difficult at best. The city is not providing any assistance at all in regard to this issue so it falls on the few who are trying to better their lives, nurture them to the point of a hopeful adoption.
The next project which is absolutely necessary is to build a separate kennel for the puppies housed there. These puppies are intermingled with the older dogs and it is not a suitable situation. A few have already been ‘lost’ due to the overcrowding and natural order of things. I wouldn’t normally ask for funds, but this issue has hit home for me and I am putting it out there for anyone who can spare something. If everyone can give at least $5-$10 it would help a great deal and go a long way here.
I know the holidays are coming but see if you can try to give a little, anything, it really is for a great cause! If you can, please send your donations via PayPal: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you everyone for listening! By the way….on my daily walk today I picked up this little guy, am nurturing him back to health and hopefully someone will adopt him 🙂