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Stray dog (unknown site)

The situation for stray dogs in Bulgaria is very precarious, the same goes for the surrounding countries. Dogs are rarely sterilized, and when owned dogs start to breed, the offspring is thrown out of a car many kilometers from their ‘home’, where they grow up in the wild, grow suspicious about humans, and in their turn breed again.

These dogs organize themselves in flocks, each with their own hierarchy. Sometimes they can become aggressive, but my experience has mostly been that they shy away from human contact. For humans here regularly hurt them by throwing sticks and stones at them, yelling at them or kicking them. Some dogs still seek contact despite the abuse, because this is their only way of getting some edible scraps once in a while. The ribs and bones sticking trough their skin tell it all.

The Pugedon project (food for stray dogs in exchange for PET bottles – Istanbul, Turkey)

That is how I met my ‘three girls’. I had a meeting with someone in town to go out to have dinner, and just when I entered town I had to slam my brakes to avoid fluffy little dogs running over the street in disarray. They were yelping and confused, running oblivious to the traffic over the main street entering town. I stopped some cars coming up and took the dogs on the side. The only thing I could do was to follow my heart and open the trunk of my car. And cancel the meeting.

So now they still are here, running around in our garden causing the (usually) harmless mischief dogs seem to enjoy. This is their home now. Every day I am confronted with many more homeless and underfed canines roaming the streets, but there’s only so much I can do, even if it breaks my heart. Of course there are official dog shelters in Bulgaria. But the name is misleading for the reality happening in those shelters. The shelters are barely financed (or the money is stolen by officials), they are heavily overpopulated, and the dogs are underfed. Sometimes abused by those who are paid to take care of them, the dogs fight regularly between each other as they are forced to survive in a limited space, and veterinarian care is scarce.

Next to those official shelters some private organisations work inside Bulgaria to cope with the problem, but they are too small to make much difference, although every difference, however small, is appreciated.

My three little girls minutes after I brought them home (sorry for the poor quality of the image) ©yannbastiaans

It is time humans stop to see and treat animals as being inferior and put on earth to serve humankind. This was what was told to us by the Catholic Church: we are a superior race, we are unique and have nothing to do with animals for we are made in God’s image, and only for us there is a place in heaven. Slowly, even in the archaic Church, the doctrines are changing, but still animals get treated in a degrading way that tells more about us, humans. When young my mentor (a Catholic missionary man) used to tell me that you had to be suspicious of people who did not respect animals, for they lacked respect for fellow men too. And my experience showed him right over and over again.

The immediate cause for me writing this post now, except for my hurts about mistreated and abandoned animals, is me Googling the name of the man who imagines himself (and sometimes acts as if) the mayor of my village, and bullies people into getting what he wants. Mister Ronnie Marynissen… Unfortunately we share the same Belgian nationality. I found a comment of him on a post in a newspaper about stray dogs in Romania (http://sofiaecho.com/2011/04/07/1071730_romania-declares-war-on-stray-dogs-report):”Since 3 years we often stay in Bulgaria where we meet the same problem. Their castration-solution is no solution. When the dogs are put back in the streets, they remain the same unhealthy problem. They must be killed, burnt or buried.” Unnecessary to mention that he got some serious flak by other readers.

The three young ladies at my doorstep now they have grown up. ©yannbastiaans

At first I thought he made a writing error by stating “they must be killed, burnt or buried” (sorry for the syntax errors but it is a literal quote), but then I had to think of the things he told me in the past back when I was still oblivious of the secret schemes he participated in. Once he told me that he would prefer to pay a local guy to shoot all the stray dogs when there were too many in the streets around his property, but that the police would be alerted by the noise. Instead he liked to feed stray dogs with juicy pieces of meat wherein he inserted a metallic pan scourer used to clean burned pots in the kitchen. Once ingested the pan scourer cannot be digested, and makes it hard for the victim to eat much, beside the infection this causes inside the stomach. At the time I thought he just made an inappropriate ‘joke’, but just now I start to see this was no joke. So no, I do not think he made a writing error, he really meant that stray dogs should be killed, burned or buried.

This realization today just gave me even more determination to fight these evil people with all I have, and as they are soon (so the rumours tell me) returning here to get their illegal goldmine back up to speed, I will contact the Bulgarian authorities to hurt and bash them in any possible way I can.

Love, Yann ❀