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Serbia: Snezana and Boka, the Unsung Heroes of Animal Rescue

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Written by: Milica Petrović

Help is needed primarily for food to ensure the survival of 72 souls (42 dogs and 30 cats) in Novi Sad, Serbia. We need dry food, canned food, vegetables, old bread, flea and parasite medication for dogs and powder for cats…anything.

Have you heard of NOVA NADA (Poppyland) from Novi Sad, Serbia? Of course you never heard of them. They have been helping abandonded animals for the last 17 years and never asked for anyone’s help. But, the situation has become alarming.

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Seventeen years ago, friends Boka Laslo (59) and Snezana Zelelnika (45), both Shiatsu therapists by profession, began to rescue abandoned, sick, injured, and disabled cats and dogs from the streets of Novi Sad. They brought them to their homes: some went to Snezana’s apartment that she is renting, and some went to Boka. They nursed them back to health and sterilized, vaccinated, chipped, fed, and nurtured them with a lot of love. They didn’t ask for help because those were the better times in Serbia and they were able to finanance everything themselves from their work as therapists.

The number of animals continued to increase and their homes became tighter. In order to have less problems with their neighbors due to the large number of animals, they kept them in a number of locations, even at a remote summerhome in Fruska Gora, where you can only retreve water from a well and where the roads are nearly impassable during winter months due to heavy snow. They dreamed of having a ranch where they could live with all of their animals.

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They built all of the shelters for animals themselves: fence, wire, cannels, houses for dogs and cats. Their dogs were never tied up because they were considered to be pets of Snezana and Boka and could run loose. In 2005, a new law limited the number of animals a person can keep and as a result they registed an organization for animals named Poppyland, which was later renamed to DOBRA NADA. By registering they received a license to keep a larger number of animals.

They adopted all of the old and disabled animals themselves, and they found forever homes for the younger animals, but not any homes. They always ensured that their animals given to reliable people who love animals and have reliable homes, mostly in Novi Sad and the region. They conduted regular visits and asked for photgraphs of the animals. Each adopter is required to fill out a form and undergo a background check in order to ensure that they are suitable before finalizing the adoption papers. After adoption, DOBRA NADA (Poppyland)  remains in contact with the adopters and are willing to take the animals back if any problems are encountered. All adopted animals are previously sterilized, vaccinated, and chipped.

For the last 20 years, Snezana and Boka have not gone on a single vacation. They dedicated everything to the abandonded animals. They did everything alone. However, surviving in Serbia became even moer difficult. People’s incomes decreased and as a result, so did the interest in Snezana and Laslo’s therapy services. Their incomes are enough for the two of them, but not for the 72 souls looking for food and basic care. Mr. Laslo started to feel helpless given that he was responsible for vaccinating, feeding, and maintaining all of the animals, but his therapy business was in low demand.

Currently their debt is 8000 dinars (approximately 70 EUR), but every day they need to feed 72 animals. When they realized that they didn’t have enough for the animals and that they will soon be hungry, Snezana and Boka almost reached a point of giving up on themselves and the animals just to end their suffering.

That is when Snezana Zelenika contacted someone over Facebook and told them their entire story. She wanted to help and give support to Boka, but she didn’t know how to since they never asked each other for anything. They also never asked others for anything either, even Snezana who must pay rent and utilities each month on top of everything and she is already two months behind.

DOBRA NADA (Poppyland)  Facebook page is:

https://www.facebook.com/GoodHope.DobraNada