It was 2am in Mostar, Bosnia when we met Edina for the first time. She’d driven 100 miles from Sarajevo to rescue a small, grey kitten we’d called “Wheezy” since finding her under our AirBnB.
Wheezy was weak with respiratory issues when we first met her. She loosely stayed with a group of cats (not hers) to share bites of food left by kind passers-by. We didn’t consider animal rescue having seen the rate of strays in the area, so continued our vacation sad but undisturbed. Then, we spoke with a girl next door…
Wheezy arrived a few months earlier. The local cats never accepted her, and the girl’s father wouldn’t let her adopt (in fact kicking the cat as he’d leave the building). It was then we realized how dire the situation. Two days earlier, Wheezy returned with a bloody nose and swollen chin. Neighborhood kids (known for the beating and torture of strays) decided that a sick cat didn’t deserve life. And yet, the cat still approached humans; her desire for love trumping any distrust she should have had.
I looked down at Wheezy, who was kneading my lap and purring a raspy, sick purr. She wasn’t just a stray; she was abused and would surely be killed if we didn’t get her off the streets. We spent our last day in Mostar researching rescue facilities – a true challenge where resources are scarce and Facebook Pages are all we had to go on.
After hours of research and a slew of emails, I got a response from Liana Duric, Virtual Adopter for AWA Australia and the person who made this happen. She jumped into action and made an urgent post to her audience and page admins. The response we received was incredible. People from all over the world were sending their love and tagging their contacts. It was Edina Pasic who came to her rescue, a five-year AWA member who would show up at our doorstep in seven hours, just in time for us to pack and leave the country.
Wheezy was transported to Sarajevo where she received medical evaluation and treatment. She was dehydrated, starving with diarrhea, eye infections and possible pneumonia. She was put on antibiotics and fluids and received a foster home within two days. Things were moving fast, and Wheezy (now “Liana”) would have another chance at life.
This experience taught me two things:
- Animals are regarded differently in different countries. I know animals as “children” who can sleep on the bed, eat quality food, and be loved as much as the people owning them. But that’s not the case everywhere. Here, animals are treated as animals and strays as a nuisance. Abuse and neglect are common, and those who have sympathy don’t have the funds to help.
- I also learned that we have a voice for these animals. When they’re defenseless, we can defend them. When they’re unwanted, we can love them. When they’re dying, we can save them. We are capable, and we have a choice when they don’t.
I couldn’t have done this without the support of AWA and their team; a truly selfless group with a strong network and compelling mission. In less than 24-hours, this cat’s fate was changed from possible torture to a loving future. But her story isn’t unique – animal cruelty is prolific in Bosnia and often ignored. Shelters often choose murder over spay/neuter programs, and wages/donations are controlled by the corrupt.
If you find yourself in a similar situation in a foreign country, remember, you can make a difference. Leverage your online resources, search Facebook Pages (for those not having a website), message heavily, talk to locals, and consider nearby cities that may be larger with more support.
UPDATE Sept-2016: Liana’s fundraiser was fully funded!
Thanks to everyone who listened and donated. She’s moving to the UK!
Animal rescue contacts in Bosnia: