Thanks for taking the time to find out more about us and the work we do saving – and changing – the lives of stray dogs and cats in Serbia. As there’s so much we’d like to share with you, we’ve provided the links below to make it easy for you to jump to the information you’re interested in.
HumAnimal BALKANS is a non-profit organisation for the protection of animals registered in Belgrade, Serbia with a representative in Milan, Italy.
Our organisation was founded in 2011 by a union of volunteers from Balkan countries who were trying to save stray cats and dogs that were (and still are) caught en masse, interned in kill stations (death pounds) and euthanized.
“Saving one dog will not change the world, but for that one dog the world will be forever changed”
It’s important to realise that the animals we rescue are only a tiny fraction of all the animals that need saving. We are limited by the number of volunteers we have inside Serbia working with us and the funds we can raise to maintain our rescue and rehabilitation work. Far too many animals are left to die of starvation or by sub-standard administration of lethal injections that cause them to die a slow, agonising death. It is essential to start more initiatives to really start dealing with the scope of the problem.
OUR INITIATIVES AND KEY MILESTONES
Our volunteers are people on the ground in Serbia who, apart from the practical difficulties of getting dogs released from kill shelters, have to make the difficult choice of which animals to save from euthanasia in those shelters. They have to be very strong emotionally as well as dedicated to rescue to cope with this terrible process of selection. Potential sponsors may choose certain dogs from the photos we provide and they will be selected, but otherwise the volunteers have to make this awful decision themselves. We must remember how unnecessary this is since euthanasia is actually illegal but, like many laws in Serbia, is unenforced or even unenforceable.
A typical profile of one of our volunteers is someone who has been vegetarian or vegan, or has been a long-time activist in the cause of protection and welfare of animals, or someone who is generally sensitive to issues of injustice. They work on an unpaid basis and come from a wide variety of backgrounds including professionals, pensioners and students.
During emergencies such as the floods that hit the Balkans in 2014, our volunteers were on the ground for two, perhaps three weeks in a row, 12 hours a day, sometimes risking their own lives.
THE PROBLEMS WE FACE
Unfortunately, within Serbia and the Balkan countries, for social and cultural reasons, it is very difficult to find people willing to adopt the dogs we rescue or to support our work with donations to cover the costs associated with rescue, recovery and rehabilitation (such as veterinarians, kennelling, transport, sterilisations, etc.).
At first we tried to raise funds locally but with little success. We realised that we had to create a non-profit organisation in order to bring international attention to what happens to animals in these countries, especially stray dogs, and to change their fate.
Obviously, in large territories such as Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, and other ex-Yugoslav countries, the slaughter of homeless dogs can be counted in tens of thousands a year. Our volunteers can only scrape the tip of the iceberg. We’ve managed to save a few hundred dogs so far, but scores of thousands are murdered and tortured every year. Our work needs to be greatly expanded as at present we are only able to save the most vulnerable animals, leaving the others to their fate.
This process of selection is itself heartbreaking for our volunteers! In the kill shelters run by the government, we try to take photo evidence of the captured dogs, even though sometimes we are legally obstructed, and we post the photos on our website and our Facebook pages, so that potential adopters might see them and want to save a life. The only animals that are safe are those who are lucky enough to have sponsors willing to pay the release fees demanded by the kill shelters and who will donate for virtual adoptions. This enables us to kennel and care for the dogs until physical adopters are found who will guarantee them a caring “forever home”. Our adopters are often in countries hundreds or even thousands of kilometres away, mostly Italy and the UK. Release, rescue, veterinary and kennelling costs are our routine costs on an ongoing basis until dogs get adopted.
We cannot stress too strongly how severe the need is of the dogs we rescue and that countless thousands remain on the streets, beyond our capacities to rescue them, trying to stay alive and living on their luck as lost generations of sentient beings in an uncaring world.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Please consider making a donation, sponsoring one of our dogs until their forever home is found, or perhaps you have the forever home waiting to be filled by a furry friend? Adopting a dog frees up space for another dog to be rescued, so you get to change two lives for the better, not just one.