As volunteers who visit the community dog shelter at Bogrov at least once a week we decided it’s necessary to answer the frequently asked questions below. Many of the issues we discuss are only clear when you know all the information and details. This information we managed to gather in time by helping in the shelter ourselves, talking with the employees working there and the new administration running the place since 2016.
This information is public and can be accessed in the site of Ekoravnovesie. The budget for 2017 for instance is 2,435,600 bgn. The budget is not dispensed in one go, but periodically throughout the year.
For all expenses there is a budget, which is uploaded on the website of Ecoravnovesie
“Ecoravnovesie” is a specialized institution, branch of the Sofia municipality. According to the current administration’s rulebook the current legal duties of the institution are:
At this current moment there are 20 people looking after the dogs, 2 veterinarians, 2 veterinary feldshers, who all work there on shifts, depending on their work schedule.
This information is publicly accessible after the change of administration of “Ecoravnovesie” after 2016. The information about 6,000 dogs missing is untrue. On a monthly basis there are briefings where the actual number of passed away dogs is revealed, as well as on the website of the organization at www.ecoravnovesie.com
Basically, the idea of sheltering more than 1,500 dogs in one place is not a good one to start with. The creation of the shelter in its current state had been decided in previous years by past administrations and the current one just has to work with what they already got. Today, the administration of the shelter along with the volunteer group of our gang is working together to improve conditions as much as they can.
Anybody can access the shelter in the visiting hours, which have been set. Since 2016 the doors are open for volunteer help and since then the Gang has been organizing the Sunday walks. Some of the volunteers even come to the shelter during the week to help certain dogs.
Yes, there are occasions when passed away dogs are found in the cages. This happens everywhere you look after so many animals. The reasons for the unfortunate end may be many. It may be due to bad health, bad immune system, disease or stress. The last cause is more common for domestic dogs that have been abandoned, because they fail to adapt to the new environment they live in. Also, unfortunately dogs fight between each other and that may be the cause as well.
Here it is the right time to again emphasize that the responsibility for this falls primarily on the people who raised those dogs and then abandoned them. Also liable for the critical situation are the government institutions, which fail to enforce the laws on animal rights and the right way to raise them.
This shelter is currently closed and no new dogs are being sheltered there. The majority of them have been moved in Bogrov. Only a small number have been left in Seslavci, where there is a veterinary feldsher looking after them.
This is the veterinary clinic that works with “Ecoravnovesie”. The more difficult cases from the shelter at Bogrov are being sent to this clinic. There the vets perform all the necessary manipulations like castrations, operations, treatments, vaccinations, etc. Also, this is the place where dogs with visible health problems are first taken to. On some occasions, those dogs are being treated, castrated and let to live on the streets again.
There are often materials in the media who try to put all the blame for the critical situation with homeless dogs on the institution of “Ekoravnovesie”. This has been a practice for years now.
However, this is not a black and white situation. People want to have a clear-defined culprit for the crisis with the homeless dogs, but we have to say it’s not that easy.
No matter how many shelters are built and how big they are, the root of problem will remain, which is the lack of an institution and a mechanism to enforce the law for raising household animals. There is not a single shelter, which can take care of the tens of dogs, which are being left homeless every single day. Hundreds of irresponsible and immoral people breed their dogs and then throw their generations in the streets, left at no one’s mercy.
The next culprit in line are the institutions, or the lack of them, which have to uphold animal rights and enforce the law when transgressions occur. Also, there have to be well defined duties of the people raising animals spelled in those laws.
Last but not least, is the role of a community dog shelter, like the one in Bogrov, which has to cope with a problem, that has been deteriorating with years. Often “Ekoravnovesie” has been used as a scapegoat when the country administration has to point a blaming finger at someone.
The simple answer is – because new dogs are constantly being thrown at the mercy of the streets. The institution of Ekoravnovesie has to answer citizens’ calls about stray dogs. Also, they are obliged by law to bring in the shelter all the dogs that live in the vicinity of a kindergarden, school, health institutions, playgrounds, highways and airports.
As heartbreaking as it is, the shelter also takes in animals dropped off by their owners, who cannot take care of them anymore.
One of the duties the people taking in stray dogs is to evaluate whether they are aggressive. There are many signals, which label stray dogs as aggressive, but upon visit of the shelter team are deemed amiable and calm. In this case they are left at the place of habitation and the people who signaled are being returned the result of the check. This is done according to a community programme, which plans castration, vaccination, decontamination and marking.
In the dog shelter there are cages with more or less than average number of dogs. The reason for this is that some dogs have more amiable characters and have shown that they can live peacefully with more dogs, while others are more prone to conflicts, which is why they have been left with fewer dogs in the cages.
Unfortunately, with so many dogs in the dog shelter it is physically impossible for people to be present at all times around every cage.
When people voluntarily give up their dogs they are housed in separate cages. This is also true for dogs from fighting breeds, which are housed in separate cages so that unnecessary injuries are avoided.
When a new dog comes in the shelter it is being actively monitored by an experienced person who decides whether the cage for this dog is appropriate.
However, there is often a lack of qualified personnel to do this type of work and the dog shelter is continuously looking for such people and veterinarians.
Volunteers can also spot and report issues like these.
Dogs are led by their instincts. The desire to dominate is encoded in their nature. They live in packs and often the strongest are chosen for the leaders of the pack. The weakest, on the other hand, are being attacked by the others. When there is such an issue in the dog shelter an experienced employee will organize its move to another cage.
Every day in the dog shelter come dogs in bad health and with a different background. Some of them have been abandoned due to their age, others have been spotted in bad health on the streets. Upon arrival at the shelter every dog is being examined by a vet and its health status is defined. Like domestic dogs those in the shelter have various health conditions, injuries, etc.
Most of the dogs in the dog shelter have no past medical records. The ones with heavier health conditions are being transported to the veterinary clinic at “Vrabnitsa”.
Periodically, there are allegations and court cases against the dog shelter, but so far nothing has been proven. In case this happens, most likely the shelter will close doors and people and volunteers will be admitted behind the doors.
That’s why everybody that respects animals and dogs should think carefully about their actions and deeds. Where will all the dogs go if the shelter closes doors? What will happen if there is no shelter where street dogs are being taken to? What will become of the aggressive dogs on the streets? Is it going to be better if people start “start taking things in their hands” in an especially awful manner, which we all know what it is?
With more than 1,500 dogs, most of whom have been caught on the streets, have been abandoned and have not been looked after, it’s only natural for diseases to spring up. Many dogs come to the shelter in an already bad medical condition. Others fall ill from the stress of coming to the shelter or being abandoned.
Upon arrival at the shelter all the dogs are being vaccinated with a 5-tier vaccine. The worse cases are being transported to the veterinary clinic in “Vrabnitsa”, where thorough medical assistance, operations and castrations are performed.
The dog shelter is a public institution and the access to it is allowed to all citizens. Also, there is video control and livestream video at the shelter, so you can watch it 24/7.
The dog shelter has the capacity to house 1524 dogs. The work of the employees is separated by sectors and every employee is responsible to feed and look after the dogs in his care. There is a supervisor, who is obliged to follow if all the work is being done properly. Also, there are three new employees, whose job is to follow for health problems, injured dogs and the cleanliness of the shelter.
The dogs are being fed once a day, according to the norms and recommendations of the producer of the food.
During the winter days the cages are being checked more often because the water freezes over.
Everyone can access and enter the shelter in the visiting hours. Since November 2016 the doors of the shelter have been opened for volunteering work and since then there have been walks of the dogs every week and additional care for them. This is thanks to the good cooperation between the volunteers and the administration of the dog shelter.
There are walks for the dogs and they go consecutively through all sectors of the shelter. During the walks the volunteers signal to the vets if any of the dogs is in need of special care or treatment. Also, if there’s the need to, the volunteers give the dogs haircuts and cut their nails. Basic beauty salon treatments. 😊💅✂️
Besides the change of environment, the dogs receive love and attention from the volunteers and also get their chance to run and play a little, which they are in need to.
The walks also help the dogs to socialize and get used to people and other dogs, which helps them get adopted faster.
Unfortunately, lots of the dogs are afraid to go out of the cage. We don’t know the history of most dogs and most likely they have lived through a lot of negative experiences. The more volunteers come, the better it is for the dogs, because this way they can go on walks a lot more often. After continuous play and walks the dog become more sociable and trusting of people.
When the dogs from all sectors have been taken out on a walk we start again from the first one.