Fallow seeds become active growth for dogs and cats in Bosnia

A mom and her pups, all waiting to be sterilized – all were brought in by their owner. C. IFAW/H. LentzIn Bosnia, many communities have found roaming dogs to be a significant problem – both in terms of human safety as well as animal welfare – and we’ve been looking at how we can help. The International Fund for Animal Welfare is offering communities assistance in the development of plans to humanely manage their dog populations, and will then work with communities to implement them.

Recently, I spent six days in Sanski Most, Bosnia at a sterilization clinic with Stichting Dierenopvang Bosnie (SDB) - a Netherlands-based organization working to improve the well-being of dogs in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). 

My efforts in Bosnia were two-fold, to follow-up on meetings with local municipalities and to offer hands-on support for the week-long spay and neuter event led by SDB.

While I was pleased to meet and discuss IFAW’s work with dogs and cats with leaders from Sanski Most as well as other nearby communities, a majority of my time that week was spent on every variety of activity that occurs during a typical six-day sterilization campaign.

Technicians and veterinarians spent many busy hours with the animals - preparing them for surgery, performing spays and neuters, and offering guidance on post-operative and follow-up care. I helped at intake and recovery, cleaning kennels, catching and releasing dogs, sterilizing surgical sets, feeding, walking, grooming – the list could go on and on.  

Locals came to view the clinic and bring their dogs while representatives from neighboring communities stopped in to see the event, so the days were always full of caring, cleaning, and sharing.

If my days were busy, the days of every single volunteer who traveled from the Netherlands to Bosnia in support of SDB to help the people and animals of Sanski Most were at least equally so. 

These enthusiastic individuals worked long, hard hours for six full days in a row, dedicating themselves to making the event a success. These SDB sterilization clinics are run and managed through the hard work and commitment of volunteers and each drives towards a goal of reaching as many animals as possible over the one week timeframe.

Additionally IFAW offered support to the community and SDB by purchasing the necessary medications making this event possible. This support is just one piece of the puzzle we are putting together aiming to help the communities in Bosnia effectively and humanely manage their dog populations.

Just four weeks earlier, Companion Animals Director Kate Atema had also been in Bosnia, meeting with members of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) as well as representatives from three Bosnian municipalities. The goal of Kate’s visit was to continue IFAW efforts that have been progressing over the past many months, and which help lead to my participation in this sterilization clinic.

SDB’s efforts also provide education for children as well as sterilization, vaccination and micro-chipping of roaming and owned dogs, all of which are a very important resource for many regional communities.

In Sanski Most, SDB was able to spay and neuter 229 dogs and 2 cats, make several visits to local schools, and encourage those within Sanski Most and neighboring communities to give more thought to how they can address their collective concerns about roaming dogs. 

In the weeks and months ahead IFAW will be following-up with Sanski Most as well as several other communities. We look forward to bringing concerned citizens together to address their companion animal problems, and improving the lives of people and animals in Bosnia.


For more information about our work with communities and their pets, visit our campaign page.

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Cynthia Milburn, Director, Animal Welfare Outreach & Education
Senior Advisor, Policy Development
Faye Cuevas, Esq.
Senior Vice President
Jan Hannah, Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project
Campaign Manager, Northern Dogs Project