Photographs: Maria Slough Photography
I recently travelled to Sarajevo to visit an OAT supported project called Saving Suffering Strays (SSS). The project was introduced to us by two amazing animal warriors here in the UK, photographer Maria Slough and actor Peter Egan. They approached us a while back with a view to OAT investing in the project. They are both big supporters of SSS and have been for some time. I travelled with Maria to Sarajevo and she introduced me to the SSS team on the ground, as well as some of the wonderful rescue dogs.
The person who runs the project is Milena Malesevic who has dedicated her life to rescuing and rehoming street dogs since 1998. She is supported by a wonderful team of dedicated volunteers based in Bosnia, the UK and Europe.
SSS currently operate from 3 locations, Milena’s home where critically injured or ill dogs are nursed back to health by Milena personally, a dog shelter run by a wonderful couple Melissa & Mersad who take care of healthy dogs whilst SSS search for new homes, and a facility outside of the city which comprises of a large piece of land with kennels which is a forever home to dogs who are not able to be re-homed.
The dogs being cared for by SSS, is a relatively happy story. However, on the flip side, one of the saddest parts of my trip was visiting what was previously a “kill shelter”. In many eastern European countries, dogs are gathered from the streets and placed in shelters and then, as and when the numbers become too big, they are killed in the most inhumane ways. Officially, this government facility is no longer a kill shelter but it was still incredibly depressing seeing the dogs here……😢
The future for SSS
Maria, Peter and Milena are currently looking to consolidate the SSS operation. This will involve consolidating the lifetime care and intensive care facilities into one location. Milena will then live and work from this location which will make life a lot easier from a logistical and management perspective, and will significantly improve the living conditions for the dogs in her direct care. If you would like to help them to achieve this proposed development, please take a look at their “buy a brick” campaign.
In the meantime, and in order to quickly and efficiently help with capacity issues to relieve the pressure on Milena and her wonderful team, OAT committed to relocating 100 of Milena’s rescues from Sarajevo to Just for Dogs in Derby in the UK for rehoming. You may recall our OAT 100 campaign last Christmas. It has been a huge success and 89 of them are now safely here in the UK and 70 are already in their forever homes with a further 9 reserved for families undergoing home-checks.
Whilst I was in Sarajevo, I helped load a number of the OAT 100 dogs on to a happy bus bound for Just for Dogs in the UK. A few days later, I caught up with the bus on its arrival.
HERO – The special one….
One very special dog who stole my heart is Hero. An abandoned dog who was found tied to a tree. He came to Milena’s attention when someone reported that they had seen him tied up and witnessed him being stoned by a group of children. 😡 Milena rescued him and took him for veterinary care immediately. Sadly one of his eyes was so badly damaged it had to be removed. According to an amazing eye specialist David Williams, who examined Hero on a pro bono basis last week, the other eye has a degenerative retinal disease meaning that he is blind in this eye and there is nothing that can be done to change this. However, he is well adapted to his disability as the blindness will have developed over a period of time.
At the moment Hero is being fostered by Team OAT, being the Olsen Family, their lovely housekeeping couple Rosa and Jose and myself. He is getting lots of love and attention and is settling in nicely. We are now looking for a suitable forever home for Hero so if you, or anyone you know, have the time to dedicate to this very special dog and would like to consider adopting him, please let us know and we will keep you posted on his progress. He will need a large garden to run free and regular lead walks for outside stimulation. We estimate he is 8/9 years old.
Special thanks goes to Maria Slough for allowing us to use some of her wonderful photographs in this blog 💕
Another thank you goes to my friends Andrew and Libby White who joined me on this incredible trip. They have a genuine love and interest in the work of SSS and indeed many other animal welfare and conservation projects.
That’s it for now, next stop Thailand in July to visit an elephant project – Mahouts Elephant Foundation…