Helping Kosovo’s forgotten victims

  • How the charity SPANA is helping animals caught in the conflict and aftermath of the Kosova crisis

    As people in the war-ravaged Serbian province of Kosovo struggle to rebuild their lives, animal welfare charity SPANA has been helping animals caught in the conflict.

    “We first visited Kosovo in June 1999, when homes were still burning and mines were exploding around us,” explains SPANA’s chief executive, Jeremy Hulme.

    “During that visit we saw a terrified horse, who had been shot charging down the road towards us with blood pouring from its neck and hindquarters. We tried to stop it, but it jumped the fence beside the road into an uncleared mine field and we couldn’t follow it.”

    Dealing with animals that had been shot by the retreating army was a common occurrence during SPANA’s first visit to the province.

    “Most civilians had fled their homes due to the fighting,” continued Jeremy, “but before they left they turned their horses, donkeys and cattle loose to fend for themselves. When we arrived many animals were suffering from bullet wounds, which had injured but not killed them.”

    As well as providing emergency veterinary treatment and supplies during and after the conflict, SPANA is now working with the United Nations Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) to establish a refuge for abandoned animals, including dogs, horses and donkeys.

    “The society hopes to make a long-term impact on the welfare of animals in Kosovo by funding a new centre which can rehabilitate and rehome many of the abandoned animals,” says Jeremy.

    SPANA is funding the conversion of an old pig farm close to the Kosovo capital of Pristina. Monique Fienberg, an Australian legal departer living in Kosovo will run the centre with the assistance of a local vet. SPANA will cover all the centre’s costs during the first year with continued financial support until it is able to support itself.

    The enterprise, called the Kosovan Society for the Protection of Animals (KSPA/SPANA), will assess domestic and farm animals brought to the refuge before trying to rehoming them.

    In addition to caring for abandoned and stray animals, the centrewill also run an educational programme for schools to teach young Kosovans how to care for animals. The scheme will be similar to SPANA’s successful existing educational programmes in North Africa.

    To find out more about SPANA’s work, or to make a donation visit www.spana.org

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