My first trip with Animal Care Austria, Serbia 2015, part 1 | photographic stories as a volunteer | reportrage

in animalphotography •  11 months ago

Warning, this post might include some disturbing images & text.
All photos were taken by me, Shlomit Schatzmayr and are shown as-taken, no retouch or any other manipulations were done.
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In 2015, I contacted Carol Byers, the head of Animal Care Austria, and asked her to volunteer. I was very excited that during our first meeting, she asked if I would like to join her on a trip to Serbia, as they were contacted by a lady owning a shelter there, who desperately needs their help, and she is going to check it out for herself.


Carol Byers

So there we were, in June 2015, Carol, myself and 2 other volunteers, on our way to what ended up as the most intense 2 days of my life.

We were greeted at the airport by Ljubica, the lady who invited us to come to Serbia. As she couldn't stand the horrible situation of the stray animals there, she bought a piece of land and created her own shelter in Svilos. She has usually around 200+ dogs there and a few horses and she pays for everything out of the little pension payments she gets. No wonder she needs help!

She wanted us to experience the hard life of the animals in the country and the difficulties that the animal rescuers go through, trying to help them. So she drove us on a country-wide tour in 2 days, trying to show us as much as she possibly can.




The first stop was a small clinic, where they also do volunteer work and treat stray animals.
The manager of the clinic then took us to see the life of the local rescuers and explained to us of the situation- basically if a stray dog is being captured by authorities, it will be killed. So the rescuers take as many of the dogs in their home as they can , and try their best in hiding those that they cannot. And there are a lot of strays in Serbia!

Some people, with a bit bigger space, manage to gather their pension payments together with some donations and open up small shelters in their home. This magnificent place was as such:






They even had a little kitty-heaven there, we were all amazed by how healthy the cats all were, it is a very rare thing in a shelter with so many cats together!









But after we enjoyed the nice and green options these animals had, we continued to a huge, central shelter. There I saw some of the most disturbing sights I have ever seen, such as dead puppies, still laying in their cage with everyone around them. Those photos, and other harsh ones, I will spare you. I was very grateful that I had my camera infront of my eyes the entire time, it helped me keep a barrier and feel as if I'm seeing everything through a screen and not in real life.
Here are some of the images I took there. You can see the dirt, The rusty crumbling cages, the small spaces that these dogs have, their open sores...









All of the food bowls in all of the cages were full, the dogs refused to touch the food- meaning whatever it was that they gave them, was probably not really edible...


And how were the cages cleaned? washed to a ditch going right next to the cages, and flowing directly into the local water stream..!




And as if all of this wasn't enough, right behind the shelter was a factory and the whole area was constantly full of dust.


< Carol could not stand these sights. She later managed to convince the local authorities to join ACA and help rebuild this place. >

On our way out, we took 2 dogs with us, inorder to move them to Svilos, to a better life.



While driving to Svilos, in the middle of nowhere, we saw a dog walking on the road. We stopped the car and as I jumped out of the car to photograph her, she was so happy and practically ran right into my lense :D
So we took her with us as well :)


She was such a sweetheart!


As we finally made it to Svilos, in the late afternoon, we brought the 3 dogs to their new place and took a first look around.
This place had the potential of becoming really amazing, it just needed the funding and manpower to get there!






After this incredibly long day, the owner of the neighbouring guesthouse was kind enough to take us in and let us spend the night there. We could enjoy a small dinner (finally- food!), a much needed shower and this relaxing, beautiful view over the Danube river.




I will continue the story about our adventures in Serbia in the second part, which I will upload next week.

Here are a few links for you meanwhile:

Thank you for reading!


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Wow, what an amazing and inspiring story. The doggies are sooooooo lovely!!! Thank you so much for helping those wonderful little puppsicles :)


Thank you very much for your support <3
I'm glad you could find inspiration ^_^

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Taking care of stray animals as a Volunteer is an amazing work. I really enjoyed your reading.


Thank you very much for your support! I'm glad you enjoyed it :)

This is heart breaking but you are doing doing a great thing ! Bless you :)


Thank you very much, doing the best I can <3
And thank you for your support!

This is both sad and heartwarming. It really speaks volumes about you as a person! The way we treat animals is a good benchmark for how well we are doing as a society and by that measure you'd be royalty :)


XD I don't know about royaly :P I'm only trying to do what I can <3
Thank you for your support and your oh-so-kind words!


Ah I may be proficient at waxing poetic but your work is actually good.
No hacks required.


Yes... A lot of strays in Serbia. We have not so bad laws but no one respect them. You should hear the story about public shelter in Vrsac. We couldn't beleve to what we see and hear. Thank God we have organization "Levijatan" so they are trying to sue those shits. And i live in Novi Sad I've been to Svilos and i know about a lot of shelters but thanks to steemit I hear first time about this kind women Ljubica. :) And that dog on the road you pick up is same as mine. Same story... found him beside road. Thank you for picking her up :) Also thank you for visiting Serbia and sharing this. Greetings from Serbia :)


Thank you for sharing! And thank you so much also for helping and rescuing! <3
Ljubica's shelter in Svilos is now really amazing, ACA did an incredible work there the last 2.5 years, and still keep on doing. I will go there with them again in March :)
Hugs from Vienna!


:) I'm really glad to hear that. Thanks to all of you good people this world still have some chance. Who knows maybe we meet live once :D


I would love that :)


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@shlomit, unfortunately things in Srebia don't work on many aspects and dogs come to that also..Many people take puppies for their children while they are kids and after a while they can't take care of them, children played with a toy :( and dog ends up on the street..We have huge problem with stray dogs on the streets of capital I live, since they are forming packs and not so rare attack people..I don't judge dogs ever, I was learned to love them and respect them..But we live in country without laws and dogs are also victims of this anarchy..Thank you for sharing this...


I know.. this is a very sad situation...
The shelters supported by Animal Care Austria, not only in Serbia, but also in Hungary for instance, are constantly in full capacity. As much as people here adopt them, there are just as much surrendered/found there. The breeders breed them more and more, so often in very bad conditions, exactly for those who want to buy a "toy" for their child and then these dogs end up suffering on the streets.
I am just so grateful for all of these saints there, that dedicate their lives in helping them <3


Yes, you are right I wasn't thinking about breeders, they must be true problem in this chain..Some of them are just seeing dogs as money not as a living creatures. Love dogs, so much but not having one. I am living alone and it would be so sad for me knowing that he would be alone whole day while I am at work :( My father thought me that it's also not fair to leave a dog alone in a small apartment..One day I will have my dog friend for sure :)


Yes, unfortunately that's how they see them... :(

I totally understand you, when I was living alone in a small apartment and constantly traveling, I also couldn't have my dog with me. I hope that someday soon you could have one (at least ;) ) too, as they bring so much love and joy with them <3