Friday, 27 March 2009

Bosnian strays

The number of stray dogs in Bosnia is a recognised problem. There are a lot. Around Tuzla you occasionally see packs of them, 10 or more, roaming together looking for food. They can be quite frightening, incidents of packs of dogs attacking people in the Balkans is not uncommon (another Balkan blogger Balkan File recently wrote about some dog attacks in Belgrade). The way the Bosnians deal with them vary. Many just ignore them. Others semi-adopt a dog, leaving it food, setting up shelter. Some of the strays are so well fed they will turn up their nose at substandard offerings (note to Jessie, you do not actually have to eat everything that is edible just because it is there). There are so many dogs and puppies that it is difficult not to lose your heart to at least one. Dog Homes are few and far between, and those that are around are poorly funded and unsupported by the government. Susan Johnson's article in Animal Welfare Institute Quarterly tells me that despite many peoples best efforts to persuade governments otherwise, the official government policy to deal with dogs basically consists of the periodic rounding up of the strays and killing them.

We often go up to the hills behind Tuzla, to the woods of Illincica to walk with the boys and Jess. There are a couple of strays who live up there and we've sort of made friends with them. One had puppies back in October and three of them survived the coldest part of the winter. Everytime we saw them, they seemed well fed, sociable dogs always pleased to see new people but not so confident as to be a pain. I had a particular soft spot for one of the puppies, a lovely, shy, leggy lady always wanting to please.

As Jess has been recovering from Lyme's Disease, we hadn't been up to Illincica for a while. This week, the snow melted, the sun came out so we ventured back up there. I didn't see the dogs. So I asked the owner of a restaurant up there where they were. The hunters came, he said. I told them not to, but they shot them anyway.

Sometimes I find this country very difficult to deal with.


Laura - Are We Nearly There Yet Mummy? said...

From one dog lover to another, that is so sad.

ck said...

Wow. Coming from a place where there are almost as many dog parks as kid parks, that's really hard to imagine.

Mummy said...

They do the same thing in HK, it's just done behind closed doors in government pounds. Just as sad.

J. said...

I would recommend talking to a vet who works with internationals...Haris Cukovic was our vet. He's wonderful and was based at U. Sarajevo Vet School, but he left. There used to be a fair number of Brits in Sarajevo involved in animal welfare issues. They should be able to provide you with his contact info. I lost it in the move, unfortunately. Fyi, we moved our dog to the States during the quarantine period. I know there are a lot of work-arounds if you're coming straight to the UK. I wouldn't let the bureaucracy bit scare you. Haris will know the loops you need to jump through!