Oct 19, 2022 Sloboda Zvierat: Helping People and Animals Inside and Outside Ukraine
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has wreaked destruction and devastation on people, animals, and the environment. While the latest missile attacks on Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure and population have dimmed hopes for any resolution in the near future, let us reflect on some positive stories. For example, many people, organizations, governments, and other entities continue to provide remarkable support to Ukraine and its inhabitants. Neighboring countries have been generous in providing places for displaced Ukrainians and their companion animals. Millions have relocated to Poland, Slovakia, Moldova, and Romania. The generosity of strangers and their organizations should be viewed as a hopeful portent for the future. One such organization is the Slovakia-based Sloboda Zvierat (roughly translated as “Freedom for Animals”), a member of the U3R Consortium.
About Sloboda Zvierat
On a recent trip to Eastern Europe, I was able to visit Sloboda Zvierat at its headquarters in Bratislava. A Slovakian-registered nonprofit organization, Sloboda Zvierat, was established almost 30 years ago by a remarkable woman, Pavla Dugovičová, who continues to be an active participant in its current operations. The shelter’s location abutting a forest, design, layout, and active promotion of adoption programs are concrete manifestations of Pavla’s love for animals and her ongoing efforts to attend to and promote animal well-being.
The staff’s dedication and skills are immediately apparent in the shelter, medical units, and outside operations. The focus on care and enrichment for its animals, successful adoptions and community outreach & engagement is evident. The small metal pool built by the staff to allow animals to enjoy a water experience on hot days is one example of the lengths to which the organization is committed to the welfare of the animals. Bojan Rožić, who manages the facilities and oversees animal care, confided that not all the dogs enjoy the water. Still, the metal pool is sunk into the ground so that tentative dogs can at least dip a paw into the water. The resident cats are almost all disinterested in this water feature!
Sloboda Zvierat is open seven days a week from noon to 4 pm. Fridays are set aside for those humans who do not have a home but need care for their animals. The organization feels strongly that the shelter’s hours should reflect the most convenient times for potential adopters to visit the shelter and experience its magic.
Sloboda Zvierat, with its roots in the community, also engages in a wide variety of campaigns, including those addressing the welfare of livestock, animals in research, and wild animals, in addition to the usual companion animal issues. Some of the campaigns focus on changing consumer behaviors. Kristína Devínska, who leads the Sloboda Zvierat campaign efforts, graciously took the time to conduct my tour.
As a partner of the U3R consortium, Sloboda Zvierat’s efforts in responding to the invasion of Ukraine include providing food, supplies, and medical care for Ukrainian animals and their people. The organization encourages a sense of optimism that there is still much to celebrate as regards human resilience, behavior, and support for animals. WellBeing International thanks Helena Bystrianova and Kristína Devínska for working with us on communications to describe this effort.
Recently, and in keeping with their community focus, Sloboda Zvierat participated with Jana Morvayová and the Slovak Humanitarian Council in treating 70 animals accompanying Ukraine refugees currently residing in a refugee camp in Gabckiovo, Slovakia. These animals were vaccinated, microchipped, and provided with veterinary certificates. The EU Pet Passport system is designed to simplify travel by people and their pets within the European Union. An authorized veterinarian can issue such a Passport in the EU. Therefore, a pet can travel within the EU with its owner if it has been micro-chipped, vaccinated against rabies, and, for some countries, treated to deal with the tapeworm, E. multilocularis.
Sloboda Zvierat has initiated outreaches with animal organizations inside Ukraine to help address infrastructure needs. However, this rebuild effort will begin in earnest when Russian military operations have ended, and it is deemed safe to engage in this phase of the U3R consortium.
Due to the recent missile attacks, Sloboda Zvierat has received an urgent appeal from a Ukraine-registered nonprofit organization focusing on rescuing farm animals. Their request included 2 tons of grain, 300 bales of hay, a grain crusher, and a gasoline generator to provide electricity, guaranteeing a winter water supply for the rescued animals. Please consider donating to the U3R consortium to support the efforts of Save the Dogs and Other Animals as well as our other U3R partners.