The problem with stray dogs in Sandanski is something we all think about, some of us are talking about a little, but we're not doing anything at all.
There are of course exceptions to this, for that further.
What is the situation?
During the past management of the municipality's approach to dealing with the population of stray dogs was the so-called “final solution”: only death can solve a problem.
People occasionally were making a fuss around stray dogs: when a pet dog has accidentally been poisoned, or when someone has been bitten by a stray. The fuss was mostly on Facebook for a week or two and then again everything quiets down.
In May 2011 a local girl named Lyubka begins to take care of stray dogs, first at her home and then because the number of dogs grows rapidly she talks to the municipality of Sandanski asking for temporary accommodation of the dogs in the municipal shelter. At that time in the shelter, there was just one dog as good as dead and two really dead dog bodies in front of the shelter (in her words), and a half-dead mare. Despite the sorry state of the municipal shelter, there were few people on the payroll who “cared for stray dogs”, castrated them, poisoned and shot them, and so on.
Instead of whining on Facebook like everyone else, Lyubka rolled up her sleeves and absolutely for no pay began taking care of the shelter and accommodate animals in it. She collects donations and seeks volunteers both locally and abroad. Long story short, only a few years in, the shelter looks like this: over 500 dogs have been accommodated by the girl - cured, neutered, chipped and sent for adoption in Bulgaria and abroad. She can’t thank enough to all volunteers like NGOs in Sofia, veterinarians, donors, etc.
The Municipality of Sandanski has not spent a dime for the dogs during that time. Many dogs, cats, and even the mare that was saved from certain death by Lyubka were with serious injuries, diseases, ticks and in such bad shape that not too many people would step in to help. She has done it absolutely free of charge and on a voluntary basis with the support of other people from the city, Bulgaria and abroad, who REALLY care for the animals. And Lyubka, like a real animal rescuer, has responded to hundreds of signals for animals in distress in the municipality of Sandanski and the surrounding area.
There is a Facebook page if you’d like to see more - Eyes of Hope for Bulgarian Dogs. However, it has not been updated recently due to the fact that Lyubka is too busy taking care of her 150 + stray dogs.
Now a few words about the local government. The previous local government were not at all concerned with the enduring resolution of stray dogs, although there are regulations and obligations that each municipality should observe under the Animal Protection Act. They have even deliberately chased and accused Lyubka of making money from stray dogs and trying to occupy the shelter for her own gains but the facts speak differently.
If you are interested here is the “Ordinance On The Control Of Population Of Stray Dogs And Registered Domestic Dogs In The Territory Of Municipality Sandanski” in Bulgarian: http://goo.gl/F5arXD. Pursuant to this Ordinance, a Population Control Plan, which must be kept, reported and accepted by the public every year, should be prepared. By virtue of this Ordinance again, every pet owner has to pay a local tax. And with the revenue from these taxes, the population of stray dogs would be managed, kennels built, specialized teams gathered, and so on. This is a simple explanation of this complex problem.
However, things have changed radically during the current municipal governors, who really took the problem to heart and made a lot of things for the shelter, so that it would seem at least a bit like someone cares. And most importantly, one can go and talk openly about the problems of stray dogs in the municipality.
Despite receiving help from the Municipality of Sandanski, private donors and non-governmental organizations, Lyubka manages and takes care of the shelter, basically out of her own pocket and out of true love and commitment to stray dogs. Lyubka does not have the time to keep a regular job between the shelter and the care for her 4 - year - old daughter, who she is raising and educating on her own as a single mom. If you want to help Lyubka, the shelter and over 150 dogs accommodated in it, she needs the following:
- Food - the monthly cost is 1500 levs and that is if the dogs do not eat every day;
- Dog kennels - about 50 at least because of the approaching winter;
- Monthly costs for vaccinations and veterinary care;
- Staff - Currently there are two workers who help Lyubka clean up, one is paid by the municipality, and the other Lyubka pays by her own means;
This is only a brief summary of the problem, it is complex, but it is important to point out that there are people in Sandanski who care about stray dogs. All that’s left to do is support them. Any help - from near and far is greatly appreciated.