Bosnia to Germany dog move: 66 dogs home for the holidays

This blog is the sixth and last in a series chronicling the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s transport of dogs from a shelter in Bosnia-Herzegovina to permanent and foster homes in Germany. Read the previous installment here; read from the start here.--The eds.

Shutting the gate to the “shelter” was one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done. It took months of planning, sleepless nights, days down in the mud administering vaccinations, checking for microchips, and weeks in quarantine working with these poor abandoned dogs.

But it is finally done.

The shelter in Jajce has been closed — and the 66 former inmates have all been moved to new homes, some in foster care, but most with their new forever families.

The shelter in Jajce, Bosnia-Herzegovina, was never meant to be a place for dogs to live. It was originally an army barracks, but has been abandoned since the end of the devastating civil war that tore Yugoslavia apart during the 1990s. When the community began to have issues with their roaming dogs, they decided they needed somewhere to put them. So they built some doghouses, and tied the unwanted dogs to them.

Maybe if Bosnia had a culture of adoption, there wouldn’t be a problem with a dog spending a few weeks tied to a doghouse. But Bosnians are only beginning to adopt dogs.

Many dogs live on the street, and are cared for by a few families at once. And so, what began with a few dogs at the abandoned barracks grew and grew, until there were almost 70. Some dogs lived tied to the same dilapidated doghouse, with little more than white bread to eat, for over a year. Some dogs were even born into this nightmare.

Jajce was one of the original pilot communities for Humane Community Development in Bosnia. The project is a partnership with the United Nations Development Programme, and works to improve the overall wellbeing of communities by empowering them to resolve their dog issues.

The community of Jajce knew that dogs at the shelter were suffering, and that they needed to close their shelter. After they came up with a long-term plan to prevent more dogs from being abandoned, IFAW stepped in to coordinate moving the dogs at the shelter from Jajce to a quarantine shelter for three weeks, then on to Germany where they are being fostered and adopted through our amazing partner, Streunerglück.

Then we had a party with the citizens of Jajce, who were as happy as we were to see this nightmare end.

And now, just in time for the holidays, Amica, Timmy, Flora, and all the other dogs who lived for so long in the cold and misery now have warm, dry homes. Their happy new adopters of our dogs curled up on cozy beds and couches, adapting to their new lives as if they knew all along that the good life was for them.

During this season of giving and renewal, I would like to extend an extra heartfelt thank you to all of IFAW’s incredible supporters who make this life-changing work possible. These dogs have touched our lives, and I hope that there is a special animal who touches yours this holiday season.


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Senior Program Advisor
Senior Program Advisor
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Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
Director, France and Francophone Africa
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Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
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