Facebook is full of desperate appeals for help by animal activists from all over the world. They publish their sad stories while asking people to financially support their projects. I am in touch with people from all over the world. A few years ago, I met some people from the UK and USA and began working with them.
Who Am I?
I am Jelena Paunović, journalist from Bosnia and Herzegovina. I have created this blog in order to write about the plight of animals in my country. Before the JFA project, I wrote for “In memory of Vucko” blog and many Internet sites in my country. After a few years, I decided to create my own blog because it allows me more freedom.
So how is a story about an injured dog that was found by activists on the street, hard to publish? It’s just a story about a dog, isn’t it? Oooo! No, people, it’s not. There is usually a terrible background behind the story.
Criminal Investigation Activities
Many of you who follow my stories, know that I am not just a journalist and animal right activist, I am also a fighter against all criminal activities that involve animals. While most activists (almost all of them) save animal by animal from the street and keep them safe in pensions until they find foster or permanent homes, corruptive politicians from all government levels are stealing money from budgets while the dogs suffer in something we call “state shelters”.
I am impressed every time I see how persistent activists from Romania are. Maybe they are braver than we are, maybe activists here think that saving one (or 100 animals) makes some kind of difference, and it does, however we all are exhausted with the situation, especially, with the conditions of the shelters in Trebinje, Prijedor, Banja Luka, Foča, Goražde, Bihać, Hreša, Prnjavor, Sanski Most, and Doboj. What about places like Olovo, Kladanj, Vareš, where the hunters kill strays every Sunday?
When I was a younger, one of my wishes was to work with PETA or Green Peace. While I was watching PETA’s videos, I was wondering why we were watching the terrible things that happened all over the world when we have the same problem here?
I had a meeting with a woman from New York a few weeks ago and I asked her, “What do you know about the situation with the strays here? She said, “I know what I see on FB. Aha OK! What can anyone really see on Facebook? Ah, yes! stories such as “we saved a dog or a cat and now we need money to pay the pension, vet and food expenses”.
Because of some posts on my Facebook, my seven rescued cats are in a safe pension but what about the bigger picture? What about long term solutions and the thieves? Let me explain to you what animal “protection” in Bosnia looks like in practice.
Bosnian “euthanasia” in a Corruptive System
First, there are people I used to call the “Dream Team”. They are local capitalists who have money, the municipality mayor and the veterinarians. Each municipality has a budget for stray animals. When the municipality council approves that budget, our “Dream Team” has a meeting to discuss how to “solve” the problem. “Solving” the problem looks like this; the municipality mayor will give a statement to the entire media saying that “We will finally solve this acute problem and our children will be safe on the way to school” Meanwhile, citizens will be impressed with his statement. They say, “Our mayor will do it for sure. We can’t live like this anymore with dogs attacking our children. The local capitalists will say that he will “invest” money in that “capital” project in cooperation with the local municipality and then the third person, the veterinarian is there to approve the “animal’s welfare”.
After the agreement, the municipality will open the dog shelter. We have animal welfare laws as to how that shelter will have to operate but dogs can’t speak, people don’t care, so a “shelter” consists of a of few boxes and a small piece of land with a fence. That’s it. I have visited all shelters in Bosnia and they are atrocious. After visiting, I can only say, here is a new concentration camp in Foča, Goražde, Trebinje, etc. Dogs are locked in small boxes, big dogs and puppies are mixed together and many of them are very sick. If they are lucky, they have some old bread to eat and some filthy water to drink. However, in most cases, there is no food and water. The dogs die a slow and painful death.
It’s not unusual to see a dog being eaten alive by another dog. In Goražde shelter, I saw a dog with a broken spine in a cage with 15-20 other dogs that were eating him while still alive. When you ask the monsters why they are allowing this, there is no reasonable explanation. In this case, one worker answered, “Ah, the vet will come and put him to sleep”. “When will the vet arrive?” I asked, “Tomorrow” he said. I was shocked!
Behind The Scenes
The main vet office will say, Gorazde has a shelter, so they respect the animal welfare act (by that act, every municipality has to have a dog shelter, Gorazde has one, so what’s the problem?).
The municipality mayor will say: in spite of the shelter, dogs are still a big problem in our community. (They never even heard about the spay and neuter program, but who cares?)
The vet inspector is a friend with the municipality mayor and local capitalist. They all have a deal as to how to steal money. So, he will say “everything in the shelter is fine, believe my words not your eyes.
What’s the Principle of Money Stealing?
It’s pretty easy: The local capitalist who in fact owns the shelter has to “buy” food every month, right? One bag of food costs 20 euros. Instead of buying food, he will feed dogs with old bread or won’t feed them at all.
The vet also costs money but dogs don’t get the treatment they need! They need to be vaccinated against rabies and diseases, they need tape worm treatment, etc. All documented falsely on papers!
When their friend from vet inspection visits the shelter (because we reported them!), he only wants to see the papers but the dogs can’t speak. When we make chaos in the media, the municipality mayor pays to print an article in the daily newspapers or he just calls his friend from their political party to do him a favor and publish his side of story. Of course people will believe him, fuck the photos we took!
The Mayor’s Words, Not Our Eyes
Generally speaking, while activists rescue strays, the authorities are stealing money. Nobody, except just few of us, in our entire country, don’t want to have real problems (then how to collect money and pay pension!). You know…when you fight against corruption, then what can one expect is that someone will threaten you, call you in the middle of the night to tell you “I will kill you, when I find you”
A friend of mine asked me if I was crazy. He asked “Why do you put your life in danger?” I was thinking about it for a long time. Why I am doing all of this to myself? Hmmm… First, because there is no one else to do this animal welfare job in my country. If Dalida and I give up, then what? (Dalida is a lawyer from the town Breza in BiH and one of the bravest activists I know) then I feel guilty if I just sit and watch all this evil around me.
Why Support Our Struggle?
Facebook is full of desperate appeals for help by animal activists from all over the world. They publish their sad stories while asking people to financially support their projects.
Why choose to support this cause and not somebody else? I don’t know. You choose. I just can’t sit and watch.
If you would like to help Journalists for Animals in their work in documenting what is happening for animals in Bosnia Herzegovina, or to assist in any particular rescue effort or case, please go to PAYPAL and make a donation to:
Please mark in the donation if your donation is for a particular animal or cause.
And also, once you have made your donation, please ensure that you ‘view transaction details’ (or click on the link ‘details’ beside your donation, or click on the ‘Confirm Receipt’ button if it is there), and click ‘confirm receipt’ otherwise the funds are not able to be used for several weeks. Thank you!