Earlier this year, we brought you news that Diane Rowles, who runs the Rudozem Shelter in Bulgaria, was under threat of arrest for essentially being ‘too poor’ to rescue. Apparently the fact that the Rowles family have sheltered hundreds upon hundreds of broken street dogs was not enough. The dogs who come into the shelter receive good food, a safe place to sleep, spay/neuter, vaccines and are ultimately placed into well-screened adoptive families throughout Europe. But due to new ordinances related to European Union standards for animal shelters, the Rowles’ shelter was deemed out-of-compliance and Diane was threatened with jail.
Thanks to the donations of so many animal advocates around the world, many of them made through the Harmony Fund, renovations on the shelter are underway. To achieve 100% compliance with every standard in the EU rules would be a nearly impossible task and involves items as mundane as the size of the waiting area for visitors.
While, frankly, many shelters do not meet these standards, and certainly none that we know of within Bulgaria, we are hopeful that the progress toward upgraded plumbing, heating, quarantine areas and kennel improvements will satisfy local authorities. There are whispers of political corruption here aimed at disqualifying the shelter from any municipal aid that might be earmarked for animal care.
However, regardless of the motivation behind the government scrutiny of the Rowles shelter, it does seem that Diane Rowles is safe for now and the dogs and cats at the shelter are better than ever. If push comes to shove, it’s possible that the Rowles family can de-list their shelter as an official institution and instead continue their work privately as there are no regulations whatsoever on the care of pets or the numbers that an individual may have.
Sasha Pejic cares for 400 dogs at his breathtaking animal shelter in Serbia. The dogs eat, play, run and sleep together peacefully. Most have been taken off of the streets and nursed back to health (also spayed and neutered) and now live in a large pack in a disused riding school. The past few months had brought excruciating financial hardship for the shelter as the Austrian organization that was supporting this shelter was no longer able to meet the complete financial needs here and the dogs did not eat for two days. But the agonizing worry that gripped Sasha and his workers (none of whom had been paid in months) has been replaced with a spirit of celebration.
Thanks to the incredible outpouring of support to the Harmony Fund’s appeal to help the dogs, we feel it is safe to say that the dogs will never go hungry again. Earlier this month, the Harmony Fund sent $10,500 to clear the shelter’s debt and to buy a month’s worth of food and vaccines for all the dogs.
In June, another $12,000 will be dispatched to cover another 60 days of operational costs and, thereafter, the Harmony Fund will continue to sponsor the shelter with $2,000- $3,000 a month. This is a substantial financial commitment for the Harmony Fund, which runs a very lean operation aimed at helping ‘underdog’ rescue groups, but one the organization is excited about nonetheless.
Jovana Ivanstanin of Forgotten Paws has been instrumental in coordinating aid and arrived at the shelter recently to deliver the good news. As she explained that people around the world had made donations to help feed the dogs and keep the shelter safe, Sasha held his stomach and rubbed his forehead as he tried to bottle his emotions.
“I can’t believe. I can’t believe,” he said softly, shaking his head in a clear state of shock. “After 10 long years of struggle, I feel like a phoenix rising from the ashes.”
Remember the Rescuers at the Crosby Hill Puppy Massacre Site?
It’s a new day for dozens upon dozens of abandoned dogs and cats in Houston, Texas who continue to be dropped off at the site of the notorious Crosby Hill puppy massacre. In this secluded dump site, where many dogs were murdered last year, there is now a vigilant patrol of volunteers who provide food and water for the animals who continue to be dumped here by the people who no longer have a ‘use’ for them.
Thanks to the coordinated efforts of those who are coming together to form the Animal Protection League of Northeast Harris County, soon to receive its official charity status, we’ve witnessed the resurrection of so many animals left to fend for themselves in this dangerous location.
The group’s driving force is a woman named Rhonda Heffernan who just can’t shake the memory of her first encounters at this dump site and the skeletal remains she found there. Since that day, Rhonda, a young mother, has devoted every free moment to rescuing the animals who fall victim to abandonment. Rhonda even sold her own wedding ring to buy food for the dogs (with the consent of her understanding husband) and her blind devotion to the animals here is powerfully evident in the photos of the survivors.
Just recently, the Harmony Fund sent over some funds to help with the care of two dogs found there, now named Benny and Joon. Both had advanced mange and other health issues.
“They are still wagging their tails and as sweet as they can be despite their terrible skin condition,” Rhonda explains.
If you’d like to see more “Where Are They Now” updates of the animal rescue squads you’ve helped, please let us know in the comments section below or by sharing this story on Facebook.