In November I spent time in Bukavu, visiting with our Partner Organization, Sauvons nos Animaux. Director Paterne and I discussed the many accomplishments and what lies ahead for Sauvons nos Animaux.
We looked back at 2023:
Sauvons nos Animaux rescued many dogs and cats during 2023, worked with the local community to encourage improved care of pets and treatment of street dogs and cats, they hosted the after school Youth Club, and held the 7-week Animal Friendly Kids Camp. They planted large vegetable gardens to supplement the lunches served at the Kids Camp and for vegetables to add to the homemade dog food.
While feeling proud of all the accomplishments in 2023, we both-- Sauvons nos Animaux and Animal-Kind International--realize that 2024 holds many challenges and there are still so many needs.
First and foremost, as everywhere, prices have sharply increased. But when prices go up, because it's far from Congo's main cities, Bukavu feels the brunt of the increases more than many other places. Worse, supplies--mainly packaged/commercial cat and dog food are often totally unavailable. In most shops, we found only 3 kg bags of dog food and they were priced at a whopping US$18.
Paterne and I discussed options and for now decided that although more difficult and not as nutritious, the staff would continue to cook the dog and cat food. Paterne will be visiting Burundi, which is less expensive and easier to reach than Goma in the DRC, and where dry dog food may be less expensive and more readily available, and he will try to find a reliable supplier there.
At the current cost of dog meat, rice, and fish for cats, we expect that in 2024, at the current population level at the shelter, dog food will cost about US$18,000 and cat food about US$2000 for a total of $20,000 for the year. This assumes that the population remains fairly constant, which as anyone who has worked at a shelter knows, is unlikely to be the case.
Paterne currently employs one full time vet, Dr Aristide at US$3000/year and 5 animal caretakers (Olga, Nabintu Emily, Olivier, Aganzi, Francois) at $1200/year each for a total of $6000/year.
Sauvons nos Animaux really needs to employ a night security man, which we expect will cost about $1200/year.
Paterne gets no salary, but the least we can do is cover his transportation costs to and from the shelter, to purchase cat and dog food, to travel to communities to rescue animals and talk to people about caring for animals. That's at least US$1500 ($1200 to and from the shelter plus ~$300 for community trips).
There's also utilities, shelter supplies, including for needed repairs (which are many, such as fixing the fencing along the bottom and top of the pens to prevent escapes, fixing the gates to the pens), veterinary medicines, administrative costs (and in DRC these are many), the year-round afer school Youth Club, and the Animal Friendly Kids Camp.
The costs to run the shelter quickly add up!
In addition, we talked about the need for signage at the entrance to the shelter and in Bukavu town, hiring a dedicated Humane Ed Officer, and a very big project: constructing a building to house the kitchen (currently a lean-to), a secure storage room, a vet clinic (currently one tiny room without adequate storage and space for recovering animals), and a room for the staff and a room for kids who visit the shelter (to have cover from the many days of heavy rain and in the dry season, the bright sun).
Small and large fixes could make the Sauvons nos Animaux shelter a safer place for animals, staff, and visitors, and would be more welcoming in general to the local community and even beyond....it would be a great showcase for those who want to visit the only animal shelter in the Democratic Republic of Congo!
We'll have more information for you as Sauvons nos Animaux develops the plan for a new building and as 2024 unfolds for the shelter...stay tuned!