Updated: May 23, 2019
In my country, The Republic of Macedonia, a country in the Balkan Peninsula, where dogs outnumber people, thousands of pets are abandoned every year. In Macedonia, we have so many issues regarding animal welfare, I don’t know where to start. The situation is terrifying.
There is only one public shelter in the country, which is a high kill shelter, where the animals are not even vaccinated. In Macedonia, we have no culture of responsible ownership. Pet abandonment is common, due to the high rate of poverty and lack of education, especially in the rural areas. Usually when pets are ill, people from Macedonia tend to abandon them, instead of dealing with the problem. Also, it is a common trend that people abandon pets on the landfills near the cities, without any food, and when the animals are found, they are highly dehydrated, without a drop of water. We have no proper animal welfare legislation. Without legislation and penalties, animals from Macedonia easily become victims of poor treatment and cruelty.
Activists are forced to leave stray animals in improvised "pensions” that don’t even have the minimal standards of a proper shelter, where the chances of survival are 50/50. This is why I strive to provide not only food for the stray animals in Macedonia (even though the food I can provide is never enough), but also, through our social enterprise, the Pet House, we offer a permanent and structured solution that works and is effective on a long-term for healthy and happy animals.
Ten years ago my family and I slowly began taking in a small population of strays — and that number kept growing. Our early efforts at rescuing animals turned into the Pet House. The Pet House is a scene that dog lovers would only dream of. Dogs of all shapes and sizes offer countless wet kisses and happy tail wags as they await their forever homes. We have been donating our time to helping animals for all these years, working towards education, proper care, and re-homing. (Below: 1) Mama kitty and her kitten Mia, both abandoned; Mia was adopted by a family from Slovenia, mama is still at Pet House. 2) Blacky was a birthday gift, became pregnant, was abandoned, and Pet House rescued her.)
Throughout the years, Pet House has rescued and rehabilitated more than 400 dogs, all of them malnourished. Just from the landfills, the Veljanovski family has already saved more than 20 dogs, 12 of whom have been adopted. Currently at the Pet House Social Enterprise, we have 50 stray dogs and 40 cats that we take care of, all looking for their forever family. All of them are healthy, vaccinated and socialized. This is a small number compared with the number of stray animals in Macedonia, but so far those are the capacities we have in order to be able to provide quality care and space for socialization. (Below: 1) Dolly our sweet princess. We found her on the motorway in a box. We raised her and in January 2018 she got adopted by a loving family, together with a cat rescued from Pet House, called Svetle, a cat that was not able to walk properly. Now they are both living their best life and are best friends. 2) Afri, Dolly’s sister, she was found lying next to Dolly on the motorway with a broken leg. Now she is perfectly healthy, well behaved and gracious, and she is still waiting for her forever home in Pet House.)
My biggest dream personally is to open a Legal Clinic for Animal Cruelty Cases and to be a change maker by participating in the adoption of a "Universal Declaration of Animals Rights”. As a law school graduate and human rights defender, I believe that not only states, but all humans should agree on a comprehensive statement of inalienable species rights. Together with my family, our biggest dream is to be able to open an Animal Hospital in Macedonia one day, where low cost sterilization and vet care will be available to everyone who needs it.
Spaying/neutering is very expensive in Macedonia in correlation with the living standard and people can’t afford to spay or neuter their pet, so we are currently working on finding a way and funds for providing free spaying/neutering for pets from rural areas and pet owners who can not afford it.
In the meantime, while we work towards these dreams, we will continue to reduce abandonment by advocating for vaccination and spay/neuter, because in Macedonia there are far too many litters born each year to keep up with the number of homes available. This will help reduce the number of homeless pets, which will lead to fewer animals euthanized in the high kill public shelter each year. We will also continue working towards education and providing a safe place for as many stray animals as we can, until they become ready for adoption and regain trust in people. With each stray adopted, it regains trust in people, and we gain faith in humanity.
I believe that with pets being so readily available, it stands to reason that making pet ownership less accessible will make them a more precious commodity and less likely to be abandoned. I believe that one of the most important jobs of an animal activist is to reduce the number of abandonments through outreach and education. It is important that adopters are educated about the commitment involved in being an animal caregiver. It’s also important for anyone thinking about adopting an animal to consider in advance how they will deal with potential issues, so that they don’t end up adding to the numbers of abandoned animals. At Pet House we believe that educating new pet owners is one of our most important jobs.
To realize our dreams of reducing abandonment and cruelty in Macedonia, we can use any help we could get with building capacities or adoptions. Each organization or individual willing to help is welcomed. We can always use help with providing food, adoption and suggestions on implementing innovative practices for Help and Welfare.
Although it might sound dismal, all is not lost in Macedonia! Every day, activists in Macedonia fight to get abandoned animals into loving, permanent homes and make a positive change. Some of us advocate for tighter restrictions on breeding and selling, assuming this will have a knock-on effect in reducing abandonment rates. Additionally, some politicians believe that a mandatory micro-chipping law will deter irresponsible ownership, though not everyone agrees. (However, surprisingly, none of the politicians from the major political parties have put forward any policies specifically designed to tackle pet abandonment.)
As for the members of the community interested in helping with the problem of animal abandonment, I advise you that it is important that you become part of the solution. You can volunteer or join a rescue group, or even start your own group. Together, volunteers can help save lives, improve the quality of those lives and prevent people from abandoning their pets! Together, we can move the world to achieve better lives for all!
Here are more dogs and cats who have passed through and some still residing at Pet House, looking for their forever homes. Please see (and like and share) more of our work here:
This is Zlatce (meaning sweet boy). The first picture is him when he got his first haircut and the second picture from his adoption. He stayed in Pet House for 8 months, now he comes to visit us sometimes with his wonderful owners.
Rex – We saved him from the streets 9 years ago. Now he has 13 years and is happy and healthy as he can be.
Mia and Marko. Both abandoned. Mia because she gave birth to three. And Marko (7 years old) because his owners were not able to give him the care he needed anymore. Now adopted. Also, Marko in picture 2, Mia in picture 3 below).
Mendo, rescued and still looking for a forever home.
Little one eyed Mateja. Taken away from her mother as a baby and rescued from Ohrid, Macedonia. She has one eye, but the biggest will to play, bark and make everyone around her happy.
Kitten at Pet House, found ill on the streets of Skopje.
Cats at Pet House
Boshko – he was found dehydrated on the motorway. Today he is adopted into a loving home.
Baki – Found lying in snow near a frozen river with ear infection. Today Baki is a happy and healthy gentle giant who acts like a little puppy, waiting for his forever home in Pet House.
Bubu. One of Blacky’s kids. I loved him so much, I decided to keep him. I could not say goodbye to him and therefore could not give him for adoption. Now he is my best friend and helper with all the activities.