Let Sleeping Dogs Lie
Tuesday afternoon, Sarajevo—stray dogs sleep in the shade of Saraci Street.
We were first drawn to Sarajevo’s street dogs because they seem to come in two flavors: massive and shaggy like St Bernards or wolf-like. This got our attention: we were used to Cypriot street dogs which mostly fell into either the “wee brown dog” or “Cypriot poodle” category. Getting up close we noticed that most of them had ear tags and are sterilized. This, we learned, is due to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s “no kill” animal welfare law which is not fully implemented.
Local organisations are working for animal welfare. Since October 2012, Dogs Trust Bosnia and Herzegovina (DTBH, http://www.dogstrust.ba/en/pocetna/) has been working with local organisations, vets, authorities and schools to help humanely reduce the stray dog population, whilst also improving the long-term health and welfare of the dogs by educating the public.
The main source of stray dogs is abandonment by owners. Raising awareness on the importance of responsible dog ownership, and in particular about neutering, is critical. Since 2012, DTBH has completed three free neutering campaigns that resulted in a total of 5600 neutered stray and owned dogs in Sarajevo.
Many of the dogs in the city are placid and friendly, but this does not apply to all, so best to watch and assess before approaching.