In spite of its small size, small population and slow economic growth, the Balkan state of Montenegro took huge strides forward in animal welfare in 2017. And the Political Animal Lobby (PAL) has been there to help it.
After PAL’s sister organisation, Network for Animals stepped in to help the street dogs of Nikšić, the second largest city in Montenegro, PAL began working closely with local animal welfare specialist Fiona Sawney. The collaboration has resulted in an initiative to research the barriers that local municipalities face, and draft best practice no-kill guidelines for the eight dog shelters in Montenegro. The recommendations will inform a national review of the animal welfare situation which is planned by the state veterinary administration this year.
“The guidelines will help to ensure that the street dogs that are picked up and housed at government dog shelters are spayed, neutered and well cared for and that every dog shelter is properly run,” said a PAL spokesman, “we are delighted to be supporting this project and working with Fiona, local partner NGO Korina Animals, and the government of Montenegro to ensure a humane future for stray dogs.”
PAL has thrown its energy into the dog shelter project, but there are many other animal welfare challenges to overcome in Montenegro. One of them is the abandonment of pets, a common problem that leads to many hundreds of dogs living on the streets or in the forests that surround towns and cities.
PAL believes that the only way to address this problem is to convince the government of Montenegro to enforce animal welfare laws, establish a country-wide spay and neuter programme, and to include animal welfare education into school curricula. PAL has already sponsored the production of resources for use in primary schools to support this aim.
“We need to address the root causes of the street dog problem,” said the PAL spokesman. “We need to teach people that a pet is a responsibility and that dogs and cats need to be fed and housed for the duration of their lives, not just while they are cute puppies and kittens. This is a long-term campaign, but we have already established a good relationship with the authorities in Montenegro and we are hopeful that our campaign there will go from strength to strength.”