Walking down the streets of Sarajevo it seems like stray dogs are everywhere.
Some of them are injured, some merely scared and exhausted.
No longer sure they are man’s best friend, they try to panhandle some food or charm a little cuddle out of the people passing by.
Just another heartbreaking Balkans story? Maybe, but worth knowing.
According to the latest data, from several years ago, between 7000 and 10,000 dogs are killed in Sarajevo on a yearly basis. Today, no one knows how many strays are at the streets of Sarajevo, or any other city in most of the former Yugoslavian republics.
“To make the long story short: If there are no dogs at the streets, then there are no problems and no money is allocated for solving them.” Velimir Ivanisevic of the Association of Citizens for Prevention of Cruelty Against Animals “SOS” explained for Allvoices.
The uncontrolled breeding of dogs was intentionally allowed, as the sterilization is not required by the law. It was planned that such high number of strays at the streets would cause the rage of the citizens, and create a climate where the killings would be welcomed again, he said.
In the BIH’s capital, Sarajevo, there are no real shelters for animals despite the law regulation which called for them to have been formed in all local communities by April 2010.
The program of the city’s yearly budget, which Ivanisevic showed Allvoices, shows that in 2010 the city has allocated more than half-million dollars (800,000 KM) to the communal animal control unit, which picks up dogs from the streets and kills them. Sometimes the hunting clubs are also deployed for the dogs shooting. The same document shows the finances allocated to animals’ shelter are none.
Under the new Bosnian law the animal killings and abuse is punishable and anyone who kills or injures an animal is to pay a fine ranging from €15 to €5,000.
“Our main challenge now is how to make the government and its officials start putting this law in practice”, Ivanisevic said, adding that despite the law no one has ever paid a penny for such acts.
In the meantime, SOS and other animal rights organizations in the BIH depend mostly on private donations. But when the author of this story tried to send a small donation through the Pay Pal link on the SOS website, the Pay Pal stated it doesn’t provide money sending to Bosnia.
It seems that both those dogs and the animals activist Ivanisevic have found themselves in the wrong time and the wrong place.
As a passionate fighter for animal rights, he has often been threatened and attacked.
His wife had to leave their home in Sarajevo, and he sleeps in the organization’s office. The decades of his struggle for animal rights brought him a nickname Velja Pas, which means Velja The Dog.
Inspired by his passionate life-long struggle for animals, a young director Damir Janecek made a documentary called Kinofil.