Partnering with UN Development Program to help dogs in Bosnia

In Bosnia, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) engages community leaders to help identify security issues of highest concern in each community. To their surprise, UNDP found that several municipalities identified roaming dogs as a serious human security issue.

Dog advocates had been attempting to control packs of street dogs through limited catch-sterilize-and-return programs or operating shelters, but the programs were not working and people did not feel safe. Bosnia needed a different approach.

In 2013, UNDP contacted IFAW for help, recognising similarities between their community empowerment approach and IFAW’s methods for addressing dog management concerns.

Last summer, IFAW and UNDP embarked on a unique partnership when we met with leaders from six communities including: Bihac, Jajce, Gradacac, Lopare and Sanski Most. We introduced IFAW’s approach, which leads communities through the development and implementation of a sustainable, humane dog management plan. The approach was received with enthusiasm, and we secured commitment from each of them to undertake this process.

Through the UNDP we  are working with stakeholders in each community to understand their situation and the resources they already have in place such as municipal offices, health institutions, schools, veterinarians, community members who care for dogs at the neighbourhood level and people who shelter and re-home them.

Then we work directly with community members through a unique participatory process to help them develop a locally-led, long-term plan for that ensures the health and welfare of dogs and people.

Since we began work with the first few communities, several more Bosnian municipalities have expressed interest in working with us to implement their own humane plans.

IFAW and UNDP have communicated our partnership through a Clinton Global Initiative commitment called “Humane Communities: Security, Health and Animal Welfare.”  As part of the CGI commitment, IFAW pledges to track specific measures of the program’s success. These measures will be essential in verifying the effectiveness of our community partnership approach, so that the project in Bosnia can serve as a model for the development of culturally appropriate, locally-led humane dog population management programs all over the world.  

We are applying this same community partnership approach in a project in Puerto Natales, Chile, which is also recognised as part of our CGI commitment.