Blogbox | #IWouldChange

For the dogs

By - 16.02.2022

Institutions must find solutions for stray dogs.

In 2018, on a winter day, while I was studying for my exams at the National Library in Prishtina, the sound of dogs barking distracted me from my anthropology reading. Sitting by the large library window, I turned to see what was going on outside.

A man who looked to be in his fifties was walking with some few plastic bags in his hand and was quickly surrounded by stray dogs. I watched as he tried to get the dogs to go away by shouting and waving his arms. The poor sound insulation of the library allowed the dogs’ barking and man’s shouts to penetrate the walls. I was stunned as I watched what was happening outside. I looked around to see if anyone else was watching, but I was alone.

That day I didn’t stay late at the library as I usually did. The university campus, the library building and the surrounding area became an area where I walk carefully and even try to avoid all because of what I witnessed that day. 

My sudden change in behavior brought some questions to my mind. Should our daily spaces be turned into spaces we avoid because we are afraid of stray dogs? And should dogs be seen as scary and threatening creatures? I think the answer to both questions is no.

A solution for everyone (and dog)

By now it is no surprise when on Prishtina’s streets you encounter large groups of stray dogs, which are exposed to difficult weather conditions, lack of food and dangerous situations. In addition to the capital, the problem of stray dogs extends throughout the country, in both urban and rural areas.

The fear of being attacked by stray dogs often forces people to find alternative routes just to avoid places where dogs usually stay. The university campus, parks and even the main city squares are just some of these places.

The problem with stray dogs is old, as are the promises about resolving the problem.

The problem with stray dogs is old, as are the promises about resolving the problem. But it seems that the issue has received more attention recently. This is because of increased complaints from people who have been attacked by the dogs and as a result of activism for the protection of animals from various groups on social media and beyond.

Movements and initiatives calling for better treatment of stray dogs are undoubtedly important, but efforts to solve this problem must be joined by the state. Only in this way can a long-term solution be developed, which would lead to truly addressing this challenge.

The solution, besides protecting citizens from danger, must necessarily include awareness of animal rights. We can take examples and be inspired by other countries.

We need to cultivate a mindset that sees stray dogs as friends, not as enemies.

First, the education system should introduce more opportunities for students to interact with, learn about, and cultivate a love for animals. This would lead to a better understanding of animal rights and would potentially increase the adoption of stray dogs. This would cultivate a mindset that sees dogs as friends, not as enemies.

Second, investing in shelters is essential. The more shelters that meet the necessary conditions for animals and that operate with specialized teams, the fewer stray dogs there will be on the streets and consequently, there will be less danger to residents.

Third, campaigns by local and national institutions to promote animal adoption, instead of buying from a pet breeder, would lead to increased interest and potential adoption. This of course is connected to the first and second points. If there were more shelters, the process for adoption would be easier. 

We are used to seeing news of stray dog attacks, but not so many calls to adopt them. Calls for adoption are made mainly on an individual basis by people of goodwill, but the intervention of institutions that have the resources and the capacities to involve more people in these efforts is critical.

There are so many opportunities for solutions, all it takes is to look for them and to be willing to work towards them. If we tackle this problem, residents will feel less endangered. But also, stray dogs wouldn’t live in such miserable conditions and would have safe shelter, enough food, care, and above all, love.

Feature Image: Arrita Katona / K2.0.