The stars hang expectantly above the summer meadow on Gledic Mountain in Serbia, a place that is about to become the cradle of recovery for 25 wolves aching for freedom. The wolves are living in small household nooks, a basement and backyard pens which have been salvaged by their rescuer Dejan Gacic, a man who would lay down his life for any animal in need.
Dejan began as a dog rescuer. Working alongside his mother Svetlana, he saved nearly 300 dogs who had been in dire need on the streets of Serbia. The dogs were housed at a home-based sanctuary and at a second sanctuary on the grounds of his deceased grandfather’s home.
Daily care of the dogs was a team effort, but when Svetlana died quite unexpectedly during routine surgery, Dejan was suddenly alone in caring for the dogs. At the same time, local residents who had heard of his heroic efforts for the dogs began to ask if he might help with a wolf who had been in captivity for quite some time and the “owner” was about to release her to a canned hunt.
Dejan thought to himself, “What would my mother do?” and then he did the only thing he could. He leapt in with both feet. He purchased the wolf from the man for a single bottle of liquor.
“They usually call and tell me to come and take the wolf or it will be killed,” Dejan explains of the many times he has been granted permission to rescue a ‘defective’ wolf who simply won’t bring in a premium price when released from his cage and sent running into the woods to be chased by hunters. “I just have no strength to watch them suffer and I have no power to stop it. I never met a hunter who feels sorry for the wolves or for any other animals.”
Over the last three years, more than two dozen wolves have made their way into Dejan’s custody. And though he didn’t have a solid plan on what to do with them, Dejan couldn’t stand to see the wolves come to a terrible end. More times than he can count, he has simply hung his head and walked through a group of amused spectators who can’t fathom why on earth this man has arrived to save some “dumb” wolf.
“I’m going early in the morning at 4 am to see injured wolves,” Dejan told us recently. “I am going with my uncle and a vet will come with us. God knows what we will find there. I’m very worried. The last information I have from 2 hours ago is that both injured wolves are still alive and have a chance to survive.”
“Without you all these animals would be lost,” Dejan told the Harmony Fund last year after receiving his first round of emergency funding to feed both the dogs and the wolves. “To live a hundred lives would not be long enough to thank you. I wish that my mother was alive to see all this. My animals just had their first proper meals after a long, long time.”
Wolves Could Soon Be Roaming Mountain Sanctuary
Over the past year, the Harmony Fund has provided monthly supplies of food and veterinary care for all of the animals and relocated the dogs to a single location. After a series of inquiries and applications at the government level, they are now poised to begin getting the wolves out of their cages and into the mountain air by October.
Though it will not be possible to completely release the wolves, the animals will have a “soft” release in which they will be grouped in packs and set free on large, fenced enclosures. Land is already secured and the municipality is offering use of some of their heavy machinery. The charity would like to begin construction in late August and is scampering to pull together funds for all the materials to create the wolves’ new home. To get involved, click here.