Our newest Partner Organization, Sauvons nos Animaux in the Democratic Republic of Congo, joined us on January 1, 2022, after receiving an Africa-Based Animal Welfare Organization Grant in 2020 and 2021, and going through our "Friendly Audit" process in 2021. Because they're relatively new to us-and probably to you, I thought you'd enjoy getting to know them better-in this AKI Blog post.
As he described in an October 2019 AKI Blog post, Paterne Bushunju started rescuing dogs from the dangerous streets of Bukavu when he was a boy. Unlike most people he knew, something drew him to dogs and their plight and he felt the need to protect them and keep them safe.
In 2014, Paterne started an animal welfare organization, Sauvons nos Animaux (Save Our Pets). He received support from the Ecospirituality Foundation, whose founder, Giancarlo Barbadoro, had met him on social media. Thanks to SnA's growing presence on social media and increased number of supporters, in 2016, Paterne was able to purchase a large plot of land to create the 1st and only animal shelter in the huge country of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The SnA shelter in Bukavu, in the eastern DRC, now has about 160 dogs and 40 cats.
Notably, SnA created a Youth Club, currently with 40 members who regularly visit the shelter, help with every day shelter chores (feeding, watering, cleaning the pens and grounds), bathe and groom the shelter animals, and socialize, comfort, and play with them. The Youth Club members work with shelter staff to learn about dog and cat care, and the Youth Club members provide much-needed extra hands around the shelter. These are some of the Youth Club members, and in pictures 2 and 3, you can see them interacting with shelter staff (as well as the dogs):
Among their friends and the communities outside the shelter, Youth Club members also advocate for kindness to animals. And although not official, they quietly watch for and report neglect and abuse to Paterne so he can follow up.
So when Sauvons nos Animaux decided to have a dog walk to advocate against eating dog meat and to highlight the problems of animal cruelty, the Youth Club members helped to organize it and of course, participated in the February 27 event:
The dog walk was a great success, with lots of participants-and not only the youth- and with plenty of lookers-on, as well. The message of kindness to animals, against cruelty, and against eating dog meat reached a wide audience!
Not everything is going well though in Bukavu at the shelter. It costs at least US$70 a day to feed the 200 cats and dogs, and if they are to get more nutritious food, it can cost up to US$120/day. An ordinary person (i.e., not a politician or wealthy business person) in the DRC has no way to raise money like that. So of course Paterne has to look to international donors--that's us!
That cost doesn't even include vet care, transport, supplies, staff salaries. For example, Paterne heard about a sad case of two dogs living on a roof, never getting off the roof, one with a large tumor, both with skin issues, one especially emaciated, and both neglected. Paterne traveled a distance to check on them and talk to the owner, who at first refused to give them up, and later agreed. Paterne then traveled back in a taxi-one that would agree to take dogs along and bring them back to the SnA shelter. Now they'll need some intense care (including having that tumor dealt with-see below).
The main thing is that the dogs are safe and being cared for now. But all of this -transport, meds, nutritious food-requires funding that SnA has no way to get besides looking to us--those of us who have the resources to give and a love of animals.
As a matter of fact, the 2021 AKI Africa-Based Animal Welfare grant to SnA has yet to be completed because the funding was for spay/neuter and other vital vet care of the SnA cats and dogs, but many were so underweight, the vet felt it wasn't safe to operate on them. Slowly, the dogs are gaining weight, and we hope to see the grant-and the spay/neuter surgeries-completed very soon.
Gaia was one of those dogs: When dogs don't have good nutrition, other problems crop up, like mange. Gaia had a bad case! But under SnA's care, she recovered. We want to see all the cats and dogs at the SnA shelter healthy, with some (not too much!) fat on those bones, and happy.
Thank you for helping us help our newest Partner Organization, Sauvons nos Animaux in the Democratic Republic of Congo.