Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Unprecedented Natural Disaster: Serbia under Water

The worst natural disaster in the history of Serbia has struck. Severe floods that have been ravaging the country over the last few days are still submerging entire towns and claiming lives, while the rescue teams, military, police and thousands of volunteers are trying
to defend the most endangered towns against the rising water. It all started on Tuesday, May 13th, when cyclone Tamara hit the Balkans bringing extremely heavy rain, strong winds and low temperatures. The downpour lasted for days, with no letup in sight. Three-month's worth of rain fell on the region in just three days, causing rivers to overflow and wreaking havoc across Serbia and Bosnia. Things didn’t look good since the beginning, but we all had at least a ray of hope until the rising rivers began to breach
embankments and then all hell broke loose.

Record Balkan flooding claimed dozens of lives, but the total number of victims in Serbia won’t be released until the waters subside. Tens of thousands of citizens
have been evacuated so far and many of them lost everything they had. The losses of farm animals and pets are tremendous as rescuing people was the top priority in the hardest-hit areas, which is understandable, but the authorities’ indifference towards
animal lives is not. Not only that saving livestock began much too late, but pet cats and dogs also seemed to be doomed to a tragic end at the very beginning of the disaster. They were not allowed in the rescue boats or helicopters and while some pet owners, the
true heroes of this tragedy, refused to leave without their furry kids, the others left their pets behind all alone. Many dogs were even left behind still chained, to perish in the rising muddy waters and the owners didn’t even think to free them so they could try to fend
for themselves.

Thousands of volunteers from around the country have spent days strengthening embankments and building up flood defenses along the rising rivers, overflown due to the torrential rain, which
were and are threatening to burst their banks. A catastrophe of epic proportions has undoubtedly moved many to assist those whose lives have been affected, prompted even more to help where the help was needed most and ignited an outpouring
of generosity at the very sight of the images of utter devastation. But after so many unproven rumors and a lot of false information included in the dramatic appeals for help that have been circulating for days now, the only conclusion that can
possibly be drawn is that disaster doesn’t bring out only the best in people, but also the worst.

It’s pretty incomprehensible or, better worded, unbelievable that now, when humans are dying, their pets and livestock are
drowning, entire neighborhoods and even cities vanish in the flood, someone finds it appropriate to add more drama to what’s an unprecedented horror already! Sadly, that’s exactly what’s happening and not for the first time.

The first heartbreaking information was that the dogs from the infamous Pozega pound were drowning in their boxes, submerged by the flood waters, which proved to be totally untrue. The allegedly flooded pound wasn’t flooded at
all and the dogs within didn’t even get wet, much less die. Another obvious and demonstrably absurd false statement, which maybe could be explained only by utter dishonesty and a total lack of morality, was that most of the dogs from private dog shelters in the city of
Obrenovac, which was hit the hardest by the flood, were already dead when a “well intentioned” animal welfare organization offered to help them. Lying so blatantly is plainly astonishing! Dogs in both dog shelters in Obrenovac are just fine, all of them are safe and
sound and the people who run these shelters are now engaged in rescuing strays from the flooded streets of their town. They’re spending hours in the water, cold and exhausted but determined to save as many as possible - dozens of rescued strays are already safe in these shelters, well fed and taken care of. The newest lie is that the culling of strays is about to happen in the areas ravaged by floods, allegedly because the authorities fear contagious diseases – can anyone believe that now, when thousands of
corpses are under water, someone in power could even consider live animals to represent a risk of diseases??? Is it possible that people are so credulous and so naïve that they would readily swallow every big fat lie they hear? What happened to critical thinking?

As to Felix shelter, we haven’t been affected by the flood; there is no river nearby and no water that could rise, so we were spared from the disaster and lucky enough to deal with only the regular problems. Little Tink, who suddenly got sick
more than a week ago, is recovering entirely too slowly - she does eat, but not enough and she is very skinny and frail. She is still very young and has evidently lived in bad conditions before she arrived at the shelter, not to mention she's had serious diarrhea over
the first week here and her immune system is most certainly pretty weak. What makes things a little better is that the older (and very old) cats are by her side constantly, comforting her and keeping her warm, as if she’s been adopted by all of them. Unfortunately,
in spite of all the love we have for her, we can't do much without your financial support.

In light of the recent catastrophic events, our appeal for help will probably pass unnoticed, like many before. Maybe we should emulate some of the saviors
mentioned above and write about our enormous desire and heroic efforts to help animals in flooded dog shelters and our deepest sorrow and absolute devastation when we heard the dogs were already dead, which of course they are not - and it’s still pretty unclear
who on Earth could’ve given that information, if anyone ever did. Maybe we should be bombarding you with dozens of begging posts in which we would state that Felix kitties are facing mortal danger if you don’t donate immediately. But no, you won’t have to
read anything of the kind; we are not drowning in the flood and we most certainly won’t be drowning in our own lies.

Everything else aside, I guess all of you know that our monthly expenses are enormous and for quite some time
donations can't cover the costs of cat food and vet care. There are many geriatric and chronically ill Felix kitties, we also have several of those with reoccurring health problems and at least a dozen youngsters which are extremely delicate and have been sick on and off
literally since they arrived at the shelter! Please, help if you possibly can and share our fundraising page far and wide! Donations have been trickling in for months now and our debts have grown bigger and bigger, we definitely need a lot more help. If you are
able to donate even the smallest amount, please do so! On behalf of these lovely furry creatures, thank you so much in advance!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Little Pixie Named Tinker Bell Finds Freedom

Is it said that history repeats itself because no one was listening the first time or is it because humans never learn? Bad practices persist not only by the fault of those who don’t know any better but also by the silence and indifference of others who are aware of
what’s wrong, and who are present, but just don’t care.

Four years ago, I bought little Cinco, a less than two month old kitten from one of the pet food sellers at the flea market. She was in such terrible shape, so forlorn, bewildered and
miserable that I didn’t ask him that many questions. All I wanted at the time was to get her to safety and provide her with extremely needed vet care as quickly as possible. It took her months to recover; she was malnourished and sick, severely infested
with fleas, had a heavy parasite load, and her tail was broken in several places, on top of everything else. I knew the man who sold her to me should’ve been stopped, but how? This is Serbia, where even the laws to protect citizens
are weakly enforced and the animal welfare laws are more or less just empty words on paper. Selling animals is not forbidden, I don’t believe anywhere in the world is, although most of these pets for sale are purebred or at least resemble purebreds. Selling
moggies at ridiculously low prices seems wrong on so many levels but as long as there are sellers and buyers, the pet trade persists. I did wonder what happened to Cinco’s siblings, she must’ve had some, but I could only hope all of them ended up in good

Be as it may, the entire episode somehow faded and slipped out of sight. Cinco had managed to grow into a beautiful, sweet, loving kitty whose full and sparkling life was cut short at the age of two. The rough start
she had may be related to her premature passing, and the memories of her are still sharp and painful, so I simply couldn’t bear to think of that kitten seller who might’ve caused so much sorrow until I met him again less than 10 days ago. The same market stall, the
same old rusty birdcage and a new tiny kitten within.

This time I wasn’t surprised but appalled and furious. The conversation started out calmly, but when he told me that he had several cats at home and wouldn’t ever think of getting
them spayed as he could sell all of their kittens for less than five euros each, the discussion turned into a heated argument and my rage escalated. I called the Communal Inspection and only then, he suddenly stopped talking about the sale and handed me a little
frightened tuxie girl, five or six weeks old.

When times are hard and money’s tight, people with no ethics and no honesty behave as if anything is justified. Selling wee babies that didn’t choose to be born into this cruel world where ignorance and
indifference run rampant, taken away from their mothers much too soon, without any preoccupation of their future is not just irresponsible but utterly immoral and wrong. If there’s any justice, there will be no more Cincos, at least not from the
same source. And in the meantime, little Tinker Bell, finally safe and fed, is surrounded by love while learning what a kitten’s life should be like.

She was probably born to one of those neglected outdoor cats, poorly fed and provided with zero vet
care, kept with the sole purpose of hunting mice and reproducing. Their life span is usually not very long and a replacement has to be available at any moment, should something happen to the any of them - and it does. Profit made from selling their
babies is an additional bonus, in this particular case. But little Tink had no way of knowing she was considered to be something, and not someone, and that her value was determined by price only; all she knew was that she was scared, hungry and lonely and
that there was no Mom around. She was screaming her lungs out while I was taking her to the shelter, possibly wondering what sort of new horror would be next. The fear in her eyes was a plain reflection of too many bad experiences in such a short time, for such a
tiny, vulnerable creature.

But kittens are intrinsically happy and playful by nature, young enough to forgive and forget. Even on that first evening in her new home, after a tasty meal, she began to investigate the
surroundings with a curious sniff, already a lifetime away from a desolate and unpromising morning. She is undoubtedly spoilt rotten but irresistibly charming and sweet, a lively little kitty girl with a white milk moustache who is now venturing out into the world
carefree, with her recently built self-confidence, joyous heart and shining eyes, eager and ready to live a dream.