Sarajevo: Two and a half year after opening, dog shelter Praca is on the verge of survival


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Photo: Jelena Paunović

Dog shelter Praca is housing 380 dogs. All of the dogs are vaccinated, cleaned of parasites, and are waiting to be adopted. In less than three years of its existence, approximately 400 dogs have been adopted.

At the entrance of the shelter, we were met by two employees who care for the dogs every day. They hosted us in a scant room for the employees. The facilities where veterinarian Adnan Hodzic works are inadequate for providing veterinary services. Everything is far below the standard for proper working conditions for a veterinarian.

Dr. Hodzic’s office contains an examination table for dogs, as well as some medication and tools for disinfection and cleaning of dogs of parasites. Nothing looks as it would on the Animal Planet. It is much worse. The space for storing euthanized dogs should include refrigerators with separate compartments; however, euthanized dogs are being stored in a freezer for food. From there they are transported to the animal cemetery “Bare” where they are buried. That process is conducted under the supervision of Dr. Hodzic.

“The dog is first given a sedative. After that we administer the “T61” medicine to the dog. After the dog dies, we store him in the freezer. Utility Service “Praca” transports the euthanized dogs. Dogs are then put into holes with proper dimensions, they are covered with lime material and acid, and the hole is then covered. One hole can contain approximately 100 kilograms, which on average means around five dogs, and for that we pay 150 KM,” said veterinarian Hodzic.

Over the last year, the number of adopted dogs has decreased. Previously there was interest in the EU countries, but that process has stopped. All dogs are photographed and their photographs are posted on the website where individuals interested in adopting a dog can read about dogs’ characteristics and contact us for adoption.

All documentation pertaining to the dogs is conducted by the veterinary office. For each dog there is documentation with details of its breed, age, name and a passport with details of the dog’s vaccinations. The City and the counties are mandated to allocate funds from its budget to pay for shelter space and complete care of a stray dog. Money is necessary for transport, microchipping, food and dog vaccinations, but not employee salaries.

“For the cost of one dog, the county must pay 27 KM monthly. However, the counties are not making payments, and everything is financed by the Director of Murai Commerce, a firm which owns the property on which the shelter is built. The shelter is currently staffed by 15 people, employees of Murai Commerce who are minimally paid. This is all the result of the Director’s good will,” said Adnan Hodzic.

There are no funds and there is space for one more structure. Currently, the shelter has capacity to house 300 additional dogs. It is planned to build an additional floor to house another 1,000 dogs.

The existing structure is 3,000 square meters. Every dog is provided with 7 square meters of covered space, and additional 10 square meters for walking, which is in accordance with the law for protection of animals. The shelter also has a hygienic service with specially equipped vans, dog catching tools, sedatives for aggressive dogs…Once the call is received from a veterinary inspector, the hygienic service begins its operations to catch the dog. If the dog is aggressive, it is given a sedative and it is required to spend 20 days in quarantine to adapt to its new surroundings. If the dog adapts, it is cleaned of parasites and it receives rabies vaccination, then it is placed in the shelter box. For each dog, proper documentation captures the place where the dog was caught and its new name and number. For that dog, the county is required to pay 27 KM. If the dog is not socialized, it is euthanized.

“Since the shelter has been open, 10 dogs have been euthanized, and 60 have died naturally. Sick dogs are provided treatment and are given medicine,” said Veterinarian Adnan Hodzic.

All who wish to adopt dogs can visit the shelter and choose their future pet. A contract and other documentation are signed, and the potential adopters are checked to ensure that they have the proper means to provide adequate care for their dog.

“We check on the status of dogs because they are mistreated. There have been cases of dogs being taken away to chemical companies for the purposes of testing products. Our dogs have also been taken to Austria where they were used for trainings. They release the dogs and then shoot at them,” said Hodzic.

To recap, it has been decided to reactivate the dog rendering service “Rad.” Once an aggressive dog is caught and it meets the criteria to be euthanized, it will be conducted immediately; if the dog is able to calm down, it will be placed in the dog shelter Praca.

Annually, the overseeing Ministry for Economy provides 30,000 KM for rent. There have been many promises that remain only on paper, and they were promised medicine donations, additional capacity, and improved conditions that never realized.

What the shelter needs the most are financial means. This is the only shelter for housing stray dogs and there are thousands of them on the streets of Sarajevo. Many things have been promised, cages for transportation, critical improvements for the hygienic service, dog catching equipment, compression dart guns for aggressive dogs, and it all costs around 4,000 KM. Dog bites are increasingly more common, but it is necessary for the overseeing Ministry to parcel funds to ensure adequate conditions for work in the shelter.


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