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Trap, Neuter and Return for novices

Posted on 13 September 2017

Many people believe that the Trap, Neuter and Return program cannot solve the stray dog and cat problem. There are also those who consider that the only way to get rid of the homeless animal population is by killing them all. In a few words we will try to explain why the sterilization is necessary, but also why it is insufficient to solve the entire problem.

Imagine a boat at sea. There are several holes in its hull which allow the water to enter. The people sitting inside bail the water out of the boat constantly – some using buckets, others cups. Nevertheless, the water keeps on filling the boat. This example, in a quite accurate manner, represents the burning problem with the stray animals.

The leaking holes are the sources of new stray dogs, while the water inside the boat represents the already existing stray animals. And no matter how hard we try to bail the water out of the boat, we will not make progress unless we plug the leaks.

What are the main sources of new dogs on the streets and what are the ways to eliminate them?

As you will see, from the table shown below, the sterilization of stray dogs solves only a fraction of the entire problem. For the final solution of this complex matter, there is an urgent need of comprehensive measures to be taken. Without them being taken, trying to clear the water out of the boat would be futile, while there will be more and more homeless animals roaming the streets.

Source of new stray animals Practices of solving the problem
Generations of stray dogs Sterilization and returning to their previous locations
Abandoned domestic dogs Mandatory microchipping and registration for domestic dogs; imposing fines for discarding dogs
Abandoned generations of domestic dogs Sterilization of domestic dogs; Education for owners
Migration

 

Natural migration

 

 

Artificial migration

 

The return of already neutered animals to their habitat  prevents the arrival of new animals;

Many municipalities deal with the problem by catching stray dogs and simply dumping them into another municipality. The correct way to solve this problem is strict control by the State toward the municipalities.

 

In Sofia, the biggest sources of new stray dogs are the unwanted generations of domestic, mostly courtyard dogs and guard dogs at warehouses, car parks and construction sites. The majority of stray dogs are now neutered, and subsequently we rarely encounter homeless mothers with puppies. At the same time, the number of puppies being dumped all the time is enormous.

Why sterilize homeless and domestic dogs (as opposed to being killed, taken to a shelter or adopting the homeless ones)?

The reason is, in their place will come newly cast animals that will accommodate themselves in the places left by the slaughtered/sheltered ones. However, the newcomers will not be neutered and therefore, will give birth twice a year. The return to the capture location of sterilized stray dogs prevents natural migration as a source of new stray dogs, and the castration of domestic animals (especially those that fall into high-risk groups – courtyard and guard dogs) interrupts the vicious circle of throwing away more and more puppy litters.

What exactly is the Trap, Neuter and Return Program?

Every dog captured from the street is being castrated, dewormed internally, vaccinated against rabies, and returned to the location it was captured.

What kind of dogs cannot be returned to the street after being processed?

There are dogs that do not fit into the Trap, Neuter and Return model and cannot be returned locally because:

  • They will not survive there (former domestic dogs, discarded puppies, sick animals);
  • They are socially unacceptable (too big and “scary” for people; aggressive or noisy);
  • Their habitats are listed according the law, as areas banned to stray animals (yards of hospitals; kindergartens; schools).

Many people are upset that we do not take every stray dog they encounter into the Farm. Aside from our limited capacity, the reason is that we are only trying to shelter animals from the three groups mentioned above.

GALLUP: 50% of the dog owners dump their unwanted pups

Posted on 27 August 2017

PRESS RELEASE:
A poll by Gallup International, ordered by animal welfare NGO Animal Rescue Sofia shows there are 2 400 000 owned dogs in Bulgaria in total. The number of dog owners equals the number of smokers in the country, two third of the dog-owners also have a cat.

Two shocking facts have surfaced in this study:
-80% of the owned dogs in Bulgaria are being cared for outside the house;
-50% of the owners admit that they dump the unwanted puppies their dogs produce.

The stray dog problem in Bulgaria will not be solved until true control is enforced on dog owners and responsible dog ownership is introduced through an education program, Animal Rescue Sofia comments.

“Only 17% of the owned dogs are neutered, and that is only in the cities” said ARS spokeswoman Stella Raycheva for Btv. She adds: “In the 4 years since the efforts to decrease the dog population began, the Ministry of Agriculture has not fined a single person for pet abandonment.”

– – –

A more detailed analysis of the survey can be found PDF HERE (sorry, Bulgarian only)

S. Raycheva comments the poll for Btv – VIDEO HERE (sorry, Bulgarian only)

A guide to responsible pet ownership

Posted on 09 May 2017

Sorry, only available in Bulgarian

Newborn Kitten Rescue and Care

Posted on 22 May 2014

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If we had to give a charming expression of sad news, it would have been the face of a baby kitten that had just been fed by its foster parent. Last year it was very difficult for all of us who are helping animals in need, especially orphaned newborn kittens, because of the huge number of cases of abandoned kittens. The sad news is that, unfortunately this year things are even worse. Since March we are receiving tens of cases per week about abandoned newborn kittens that need our help to survive.

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Each story of those babies begins in the hardest way – they are separated from their moms when they need them the most. The chances for survival of so young babies without their mom-cats are very slim. They need 24/7 care from their foster guardian for at least a month. The newborn kittens are vulnerable tiny babies.

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The most effective ways to help abandoned newborn kittens are two: to be adopted by a nursing cat or to be hand-raised by a foster guardian. The proper care for newborn kittens is crucial for the survival of the baby. Therefore, in order to help everyone who wants to save orphaned newborn kittens we have created a group in Facebook named: “Newborn Kittens Care – Новородени Котета в Беда.”

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We are posting some important tips for proper care for the newborns.

1.When you find newborn kittens look around for their mom cat. In some cases the cat would be too scared to get closer to you but she will stay around. Ask people in the area about the cat.

2.Warm up the kittens. Before you feed them or do anything else, you need to be sure that the kittens are warm. You can use bottles with hot water covered with soft clothing or heating pads with rice. NEVER Feed Cold kittens!!! This is extremely important. Feeding kittens with temperature below the normal is not doing anything good. It can actually cause diarrhea and potentially increase the risks for the life of the kitten.

3.Feed the newborns. Use special kitten milk from a veterinarian clinic. In case you cannot find special milk you can use either formula for human babies or home-made recipes. Feed the kittens ONLY with warm formula – around 39 degrees. It is crucial NEVER to feed kittens with cold formula or formula with room temperature. Only warm formula is appropriate! Formula that is not warm enough cannot be digested and causes diarrhea. Never feed the kittens only with cow milk.

4.Feed the kittens with dropper or special kitten bottle. Do not use syringe. Feed the kitten only in the pose it would naturally nurse from its mom. See the photo below or look on the internet.

5.Stimulate the kittens with warm dump cloth and gentle massaging the area of the anus and the bellies. Kittens should pee every time.

stimulating

Additional helpful tips:

–          weigh the kittens daily to monitor whether they gain weight

–          monitor the kitten poop – in cases of diarrhea, blood, mucus or constipation you must seek veterinarian help

–          keep the kittens dry and warm. They should not get wet, because they easily catch cold.

–          explore the kittens for any eggs of flies or other parasites and clean them gently.

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GOOD LUCK!!!

Three women and a dream (To say nothing of the dogs)

Posted on 27 October 2013

“Some women met in an online forum” may be the opening scene for a number of Bulgarian initiatives and organizations. The one that we are talking about here is about a few girls and a lot, really and truly a lot, of dogs. This is a story about the beginning and the end of the dog shelter in Bogrov. A tale about love, hope, bravery, kindness and of course – the dogs.

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Once upon a time there were three girls. They happened to meet in an Internet dog lovers discussion board. Although completely different, they had a couple of things in common – the love of dogs and clear understanding that a lot of work is required to ease the pain and suffering of the stray dogs living on the streets of Sofia.

At the beginning they all had jobs and devoted their free time to tend to the dogs in the municipal dog shelter of Seslavtsi – finding people to take care of the dogs temporarily here in Bulgaria, looking for suitable adopters in the Netherlands, organizing transport and sending them off to a new life. Other members of the discussion board tried to help as much as they could and slowly a supportive group of working dog lovers emerged and started changing the world around them. One dog at a time.

It happened that one day the girls got the golden opportunity not given to everyone in life – to fulfill their dream, if only they can muster the courage to do it. It was 2010 and the city council were looking for someone to work for 3 years in the biggest, at the time, dog shelter – supporting up to 500 poor souls. Our three heroines thought about it, fretted over the decision, then took a deep breath and jumped in. This is how the adventure called Animal Rescue Sofia started.

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A lot has passed since then, our girls grew up to be the crazy dog ladies that always lurked somewhere in them. They don’t have the security of the regular work hours and good salary now, but how inspiring it is to know that everything depends on you? I know it, because I am one of them – the crazy ones, the ones that believe the stray dogs’ problems can be solved only by people who care. We have laws, we have methodology, the only thing that is left is to put the work in. And there is a lot of work to be done.

For the three years Bogrov dog shelter is functioning we managed to find homes to 2300 dogs from the streets of Sofia and to neuter 5400 more. Written down these numbers seems unreal, but try to count to 2300 and you’ll see – we’ve taken care and cared for thousands, each having their place in our hearts. So many doomed and unloved strays now have their own family in Bulgaria, Austria, Germany or the Netherlands.

volunteers (8) volunteers (14)

You may be wondering how we pay for all this without the help of the government, EU support initiatives or an international charities. Believe it or not, the whole shelter is funded by only private donations, people who know us and believe that everything they donate will be used in the best way to save animals, slimming down the number of strays on the streets and bettering our city. And those people are not rich – our highest donation is 130 euro, with the bulk of them being between 5 and 20 levs (3-10 euros). The secret is in the community spirit – everyone gives within their means, so we can all help our little silent friends.

Whether because we believed and continue to believe that Bulgarians have big hearts and we can solve our own problems, or because enthusiasm is contagious when it yields results, but somehow we can reach people. The shelter is open 365 days a year and in addition to the doctors and carers a lot of volunteers give their time to work here. I dare think this kind of self-driven community spirit is the civil society that we wish for in Bulgaria.

ot segashnia ni priut (1)

But enough said from the human perspective. I thought long and hard whether, like many of my colleagues, to tell some deeply upsetting and heartbreaking stories that will touch your soul and leave a mark. Like the one of the little baby Mook – a puppy, that got two of its legs cut off by some mindless maniac – now a loved companion in a wonderful home in Canada. Or the one of Zoran, the malamute, who we got from the police cut in pieces, confused and angry, who is now enjoying life in his new home in Sofia. Or Mecho and Missy, now “citizens” of Germany, who had suffered someone incredibly evil pouring acid in their ears. Or the one about Tihomir – the living skeleton… And hundreds upon hundreds of abused, beaten, tortured, sick, broken, agonizing dogs that had came to us on the brink of death, who now live a second life in a new home, with no memories of their past misfortunes.

buyan1

But no. I am not going to emotionally blackmail you. We decided to be the people who take care of the unwanted and unloved and we will continue doing it. Now, three years after we started our journey, when we have proven our ability to deliver results, the end of our contract with Municipality of Sofia is near. We have to leave the shelter by December and are left with no place to continue our work. There is no point in whining about all the hurdles we had to overcome to get the land for the Bogrov shelter. Our time is running out, there are 2 months left to fix a new deal and we know that the only way for something to happen is if we do it ourselves.

Our little story can end here – without the happy ending, however anyone who cares can help us change this. We have found a property that is perfect for our needs and we can continue our work there – a big unused dairy farm. The only thing left is to find the money to buy it. The price is 210 000 euro – as much as a big apartment in the city, but still more than we can afford.

tajni ot priuta (4)

I believe that we can find more people with big hearts. I believe that this home for the unwanted can continue to exist. I believe, no matter how hard and un-achievable it seems, that “some girls” can find the funds and give shelter to the most miserable inhabitants of the city streets. I believe, because I can see the impossible happening every day. No one can help the whole world, but everyone can help a bit – today, here and now. Because there is no one else to do it for us and their fate is in our hands.

Stella Raycheva, “Women today” magazine, October 2013

How to help us?

ot segashnia ni priut (3)

Even if we are not rich, we have the numbers. If you think that ARS needs to continue forward, you can help. Every bit counts and even a small donation is of real importance – a matter of life and death for hundreds, no, thousands poor homeless souls.

CLICK HERE for online donations through ePay.bg and PayPal.com

Bank details of The Farm of Dreams:

FIRST INVESTMENT BANK BIC: FINVBGSF

IBAN (EU) – BG50FINV91501215999956

IBAN (BGN) – BG07FINV91501215999954

ACCOUNT HOLDER: “A R Sofia Foundation”

novia priut (1) novia priut (2)

Sealife

Posted on 23 July 2013

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In the country where guide-dogs are altogether denied entry to public buildings and transport it is no surprise that the Municipal councils in the largest sea-side cities have voted a prohibition to walk dogs on the beach.

It is just as un-surprising that we, the people who love dogs, do not want to spend our vacations without them (what kind of vacation would that be!) and find ways to enjoy Bulgaria’s sea and mountains in the company we like.

Luckily, there still are some places at our seaside where you don’t have to walk across pink sweaty bodies to get to the water and there is a way to have a great time with your dog and enjoy the nature.

Such a wonderful vacation already happened to the Ianevi family – Atanas, Yana, Michaela and their flying dogzilla – Maya, adopted from Bogrov shelter.

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You know Maya and Atanas from their great sports achievments. If you have the desire and enthusiasm to join their colorful group – you are welcome to Agility Club Bulgaria! Dog sport is not just a fun thing to do, it is also a great bonding time and great for your health.

Click HERE for a list of hotels in Bulgaria that accept guests with dogs.

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Some useful tips for the people traveling with their dogs for a sea vacation:

To avoid nasty intestinal surprises in the car – don’t feed your dog if you have a long drive, or at least 6-8 hours before you get in the car. Take regular bakes and offer your dog water to drink.

At the beach – always carry fresh water with you and have it available to the dog. You can’t explain to your friend that salt water is dangerous and before you know it, the thirsty animal will be full of salty poison which will only dehydrate it more.

Don’t let your dog run around as much as it wants to – it has no clue about sun protection and you might be risking a thermal shock in the middle of nowhere. Provide a shadow and make sure it is using it as often as necessary.

Never, ever leave your dog alone in the car. No matter if it’s parked in the shade or windows are open. Just don’t.

And of course – be a responcible “parent” to your 4-legged child. Noone has to love your dog, especially if their mouths are full of sand or their towels have been used as for a roll after you took your dog out of the water. Control your dog, it’s your responsibility.

Parasites – our unwanted pets

Posted on 25 April 2013

Sorry, this article is available in Bulgarian only…

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10 things you should learn from your dog

Posted on 25 December 2012

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1.   When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
2.   Run, romp, and play daily.
3.   Let others know when they’ve invaded your territory.
4.   Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
5.   When you’re happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
6.   No matter how you’re scolded, don’t buy into the guilt thing.
7.   Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
8.   When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit closely and nuzzle them gently.
9.    Never pretend to be something you’re not.
10.  Be loyal.

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MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM MOOKIE AND HER FRIENDS!

GALLUP: 50% of the dog owners dump their unwanted pups

Posted on 03 December 2012

PRESS RELEASE:
A poll by Gallup International, ordered by animal welfare NGO Animal Rescue Sofia shows there are 2 400 000 owned dogs in Bulgaria in total. The number of dog owners equals the number of smokers in the country, two third of the dog-owners also have a cat.

Two shocking facts have surfaced in this study:
-80% of the owned dogs in Bulgaria are being cared for outside the house;
-50% of the owners admit that they dump the unwanted puppies their dogs produce.

The stray dog problem in Bulgaria will not be solved until true control is enforced on dog owners and responsible dog ownership is introduced through an education program, Animal Rescue Sofia comments.

“Only 17% of the owned dogs are neutered, and that is only in the cities” said ARS spokeswoman Stella Raycheva for Btv. She adds: “In the 4 years since the efforts to decrease the dog population began, the Ministry of Agriculture has not fined a single person for pet abandonment.”

– – –

A more detailed analysis of the survey can be found PDF HERE (Bulgarian only)
S. Raycheva comments the poll for Btv – VIDEO HERE (Bulgarian only)

Dogs And Your Health: 9 Reasons To Get A Pet

Posted on 22 October 2012

Actually we know way more than 9 reasons to get a dog – we have about 500 gorgeous reason at the Bogrov shelter. Of course, when we say “get a dog” we mean adopt one. There are way too many homeless animals and every adopted one is a life saved.

Our friends from DogTrust have 9 reasons, more connected to your health, to get a dog.

  1. Dog owners make fewer visits to their doctors
  2. Owning a dog can help reduce stress and anxiety
  3. Owning a dog can help reduce blood pressure – a number of studies have shown that pet owners have better cardiac parameters including blood pressure and cholesterol, compared to people without animals. Also, people who have had a heart attack, who have pets live longer than those without through the same experience, but no dog.
  4. Owners who walk their dogs are healthier than non-dog owners – they always have company to workout with during the weekend. A dog is always ready for a walk, run, bike ride or throwing frisbee in the park. And even if you don’t want to work out, you still have to walk your dog.
  5. Dogs can help the development of children with autism and children with learning difficulties – research shows that dogs lower the levels of stress in kids with autism and help them develop their communication skills.
  6. Owning a dog can boost your immune system – recent researches show that kids of families with dogs are less likely to suffer of eczema.
  7. Dog owners are likely to recover quicker from heart attacks.
  8. Dogs can help safeguard against depression
  9. Trained dogs can detect a variety of health conditions – including epileptic fits, cancerous tumours and hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose)

April 4 World Stray Animals Day

Posted on 04 April 2012

April 4 is the day for compassion, care, and action for stray animals worldwide.

Cesar Millan, The Dog Whisperer, was named ambassador for World Stray Animals Day.

We have provided translated these two wonderful article by him on the problem of stray animals.

“World Stray Animals Day: Why This Cause is So Important to Me”

“Solving the Stray and Unwanted Dog Problem”

No need for breedism – a dog is a dog

Posted on 07 March 2012

I remember a remarkable story from last year – we made patheric effort to sneak in one of our shelter pups to be the doggie star of pupular TV Show Lords of the broadcast. We were hoping to make one more step into making breedless dogs more popular as pets in opposition to the common idea that only a pedigree dog can be a good pet. It took a long time to find someone we know in the TV show team, we talked much, made many arrangements and finally – the moment came! 2 people from the staff were sent to chose an appropriate puppy. It took them only one tour round the 120 puppies we offered to come back with a whiney grin: “But they are all mutts!?” And they were gone. Gone, to buy a little husky from a pet shop. A little pedigree baby born only to make money, whose mother lives somewhere in horrible condition and will be bred restlessly until she dies of exhaustion. But, pet shop dogs are a whole different story… I wanted to say something different.

Many Bulgarians make a very specific distinction between dogs that have a breed – suitable to live in a home; and dogs with no breed – OK in the yard or on the street. We do not judge them – it has been too many years of pedigree pets and mongrel chained dogs.

Bogrov offers shelter to 500 dogs that don’t have a home. People who haven’t been here often imagine a wild zoo of black and brown wolves in cages. “Mutts” – they are quickly labeled to no srprise. Whilst people have met many good cockers or labradors few have had a close communication with a stray animal to notice how good it is. The strays remain on their invisible sidewalk patrol, being noticed only if they bark too much or turn a garbage can over.


Dexter

This here rediculous guy was left at the shelter by his onwers – they said he was impossible to control and will be euthanized if we don’t take him. Being such an amazingly cute one it took only days for someone to like him and take him home. Unfortunately his new onwers underestimated our warnings about him and recently he was returned to us.

No need to say that he quickly found new fans – the family of kind Mariana Stoichkova decided to give him a chance. Only this time we included a special term in their adoption contract. Tey are obliged to work with a dog behaviourist – a proffecional appointed by us – Mr Orlin Milanov, a true dog friend that has voluntarely helped with quite a few of our complicated cases.

And the news are great! Dexter is being very reasonable and behaving perfectly for now. Orlin reports that his new family is doing an excellent job and should have no trouble keeping him in line in the future. Our thanks to him and to Mariana for their serious and responsible work!


Johnny

And here we introduce you to the Middle-asian Shepherd Johnny. As it often happens in our line of work – Johnny’s owner died and his cruel and irresponcible relatives threw his odg out on the street. A giant dog with chopped off years on the street? It was a matter of days before someone shoots or poisons him in fear.

Since even at the moment we have 3 Bulgarian shepherd dogs at the shelter – we were quite worried. WHo would eant this huge guy? Would he linger in the cages for years because of his size, just like our poor old Baloo?? We were sooo happy when Dimitar Georgiev said he would have him instead of the dog he originally came for!

Today Johnny has his own yard and a family to guard. He will never be chained as it often happened to him in the past. We are so pleased!


Gabriel

And this one here is Gabriel. The husky that got at least 30 e-mails, calls and notes, but only 2 serious inquiries on the spot. Young, healthy and beautiful Gabriel is also too enegretic, easy to excite, full of life and noise – a dog that can’t be rehomed with just anybody.

For this reason we beleive he is an exceptionally lucky tog to have found Kalina and George Tashevi! People who proved they are serious and responcible, people who would work hard and do their best to help him become a pet. It is not his fault after all, that his original owners only chose him for his looks, ignoring the strong will and abundance of energy that is typical to the northern breeds. Good luck to you, dear George and Kalina!!!

Yes, it really is more than great that more and more people are adopting breedless dogs. Dogs who were born homeless instead of dogs who were bred for proffit. But in the same time it is very difficult for us to understand some comments like: “You wouldn’t adopt if it had no breed!” or “Got a husky for free and is now even bragging!”

Do we really need this racism, people!? Just as we don’t want people to judge a dog because it has no breed, we don’t want the dogs to be judged because they do have it! A dog is a dog. And it has no clue what color it is, what shape his body has, or wether his grandma has beauty medals. It just knows that it wants to love and be loved back – that is all, nothing more and nothing less.

Gabriel, Dexter and Johnny were simly lucky to be born in a body that is easier to notice. This doesn’t mean that they were less miserable, unhappy, lonely, abandoned or suffering without their wonderful adoptive parents. This doesn’t mean that they don’t have any problems and everything about them is in pink roses. Having a breed is not enough.

And this certainly does NOT mean that the people who adopted them are “snobs” or “pretentious” or whatever else comes into the minds of people who think they can make such judgements. Wether they had a dog like this in the past or had seen and liked one who belonged to someone else – does it really matter??? A life is saved! Happines has come round!

Be proud and happy dearest people who adopt! No matter if you have opened your heart to a dog or a cat, to a breedless or a pedigree animal in need. Life is life and it has as much value no matter what the body that carries it looks like. And you have saved it, you you have leant a hart to an unwanted, lonely creature. Be blessed!