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  • Writer's pictureDua Malazogu

A Do-It-Yourself Approach to Helping a Stray Dog in Kosovo

If you find yourself in a situation where you are able to help a stray dog, please consider the following guidelines to ensure you are taking a well informed approach in order to make the biggest difference with your efforts.

Independent NGO's in Kosovo work tirelessly to support stray animals in the region. At times you may find that there is a lack of support or resources when you encounter a sick, injured, or otherwise vulnerable stray. We rely on empowered individuals to put forth an effort to help strays in any way they can.

Here you can find out more about what to do when encountering an injured stray dog, a lone puppy, or a litter (with or without the mother). You can also find guidance on keeping a stray dog calm, exploring foster care options, and knowing when it's appropriate to bring them to a shelter.

Safety for You and the Stray Dog

Firstly, ensure you and the dog are both safe before proceeding to make any contact with it.

If you find the dog in a high traffic or busy area, try to lead it to someplace quieter before assessing it's health.

Do not suddenly approach a dog if it is in severe pain or bad health condition. If you find the dog is in need of veterinary care, take photos and document observed behaviors to aid our rescue team in identifying how we can assist.

If you don't have veterinary training, avoid attempting to treat the dog's injuries yourself. You could unintentionally cause more harm.

Encouraging Calm Behavior From Strays

We suggest avoiding engaging with the dog in a way that heightens their excitement, as it may attract other dogs and lead to disturbances or fights. Encourage minimal excitement by crouching to their level and refraining from engaging when they are overly excited or biting. Teaching a stray dog to jump on people may expose them to harm from individuals unfamiliar or uncomfortable with dogs who may not see their behavior as friendly.

Be a Stray Hero

There are different levels of care you can provide based on your experience and comfort. You can provide food and water, assess their condition, contact rescue organizations for help, provide the dog with medications such as dewormers, or take them to the vet. Any amount of help is real help and will make a powerful difference in the dog's life.

We are always grateful of people offering as little as a few minutes of their time to help out the animals they encounter. Our community benefits from the help of volunteers who monitor and take care of dogs in their area. Some dogs are seen roaming the street but will be known by name by locals. These are community owned dogs which are well loved and taken care of.

Emaciated or Sick Strays

The best option to help a stray dog that is emaciated is to provide them with dog food. When feeding, lead the dog away from other dogs and busy roads, allowing them to eat in peace. If you would like to keep feeding the dog and are only in the area temporarily, try asking neighbors, shop keepers, or other locals in the neighborhood for help in providing care and keeping an eye on the dog over the next week or so until it recovers. If you are low on funds and time, providing food during your stay in Kosovo is a cheap but effective way to make a big difference.

Another option is to visit the nearest veterinarian and request a dewormer such as Nexgard, ensuring that any parasites are flushed out of their system so they will not diminish the dog's nutrient intake.

If you are able to invest some funds and time into the stray and are very confident around dogs, take it to the local vet and ask for vaccines, a health checkup, and (if possible) sterilization. This will ensure the dog will not add to the population or spread diseases.

Please be aware that dogs in this condition may have a range of diseases, some of which may be incurable. We strongly advise seeking professional help before assuming the responsibility of taking a stray dog to the vet. If you choose to take on this responsibility yourself, be prepared emotionally and financially for the commitment.

Veterinary bills in Kosovo are generally lower than in other countries. However, if this expense is not included in your travel budget, it could have an impact on your finances.

Finding a Lone Puppy or a Litter

If you come across a lone puppy on the street, assess whether the mother or litter is nearby.

Do not separate the mother from the puppies, if the mother is reactive to you approaching the litter, do not engage any further. If you still would like to help, place a bowl of food and water nearby.

For puppies that are on their own, take them into a safe or warm space where they can rest and eat. Monitor their food intake and take them to the vet as soon as possible to deworm and provide other treatment.

If you've brought the puppy or puppies inside but can't provide long-term care, or if you're staying in accommodation where keeping them isn't possible, try to find a foster who will take the puppy until it is able to survive on it's own.

You can find a foster for the puppy online or by asking locals. Facebook pages where you can find fosters include "Te Bashkuar Për Kafshët / United for Animals" and "Maniake t’Kafsheve."

Be prepared to financially assist the fosters. Puppies require around the clock care, cleaning, and attention as their immune systems also not developed. You can organize fundraising with your friends, family or workplace in order to help the dog you found.

Take photos of the area you found the puppy for future reference. Most dogs that aren't adopted need to return to their familiar area for the best chance of survival. Applying CNVR (Catch, Neuter, Vaccinate, Release) has proven to be the most successful measure for controlling stray overpopulation.

Bringing Dogs to the Shelter

Immediately taking a dog to a shelter may not be the best solution for the stray as it may not be in a condition to require a stay at our shelter. This is particularly true for puppy litters; taking very small puppies to a shelter won't guarantee their survival, as they will be exposed to more diseases than if they were in a private home. Furthermore, by removing a dog from an area they are familiar with, it can disorient them and cause other dogs in the area to lose familiarity with the individual dog, which may prompt attacks.

We handle urgent cases and they vary by situation. Please also consider that shelters and rescues may be over capacity, the dog may only require care in it's original area, or is already being taken care of by local volunteers. We can send field workers to treat certain diseases in the dog's area, suggest a local vet, or bring the dog in if they are in very poor condition.

Fortunately, there are various options for helping stray dogs that are in bad health condition. With your help we can create a broader reach of our efforts.

By engaging the broader community in our efforts, we can more effectively manage a healthy population of stray dogs and minimize the likelihood of unfortunate incidents in the future.

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