Animals and a Kinder World

Published in About Animals

The feast day of St. Francis of Assisi is celebrated on October 4th each year, which is also World Animal Day.

Fra Joakim Gregov with his statue of St. Francis of Assisi, in front of the Franciscan Monastery, Hvar Fra Joakim Gregov with his statue of St. Francis of Assisi, in front of the Franciscan Monastery, Hvar Mirko Crnčević

St. Francis is the patron saint of animals, among many other attributes. World Animal Day originated in Germany as the brainchild of Heinrich Zimmermann (1887 - 1942), who was totally committed to promoting animal welfare. Although he envisaged October 4th as the day of choice, the first World Animal Day took place in Berlin on March 24th 1925, because there was no suitable venue available on the October date. It was 1929 before the first World Animal Day was held on St. Francis' feast day. Thousands of people from Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Czechoslovakia supported the movement, which became a worldwide celebration after being adopted in a Resolution at an International Animal Protection Congress in May 1931. World Animal Day inspires a mutlitude of different events, large and small, in aid of animal welfare. It is estimated that participation has spread to around a hundred countries in recent times, with something like 1000 events organized to raise awareness and funds, and to give people the chance to see how they can help improve the lot of animals of all kinds on our planet.

Some Eco Hvar supporters in Jelsa on World Animal Day 2016. Photo: Mirko Crnčević

Good as it is to have a day reminding the whole world of the need to safeguard the animals on our planet, animal welfare is a year-long necessity, day in, day out. Every year, Eco Hvar is contacted ba people who need help with animals, mainly cats and dogs, but there have been birds and even otters in the mix. We do what we can. All too often, we are powerless to help. In August, two visitors in Milna on Hvar found, to their horror, ten very small puppies dumped in the local rubbish bin. Six were already dead, but Petra and Đenaro rescued the other four, and then asked Eco Hvar for help.  Despite our best efforts, after several days of bottle-feeding, they all died. They were simply too young to have been separated from their mother. 

Trying to save a dumped puppy, August 2016

We were also concerned for the mother. It is the worst tragedy for any mother to lose her young, especially at the time when her hormones are all set to nourish them. We wanted to help the owner, in order to prevent a repeat of the horror of dumping new-born offspring. Sadly, our inquiries and internet appeals failed to produce any result.

Collar with phone number tag

However, 2016 also had its success stories. We helped re-unite several visiting dog owners with their runaway pets. In each case we had to take the dog to the vet in Stari Grad to read its chip, which of course involves the time and expense of getting there, and can only be done during the surgery's working hours. Eco Hvar strongly recommends that dogs should always have collars with a tag giving the owner's contact number. An alternative, which is a really helpful innovation in Croatia, is the owner-finding service through a dog tag with a special code. Buying the tag, which is on sale at various outlets including DM stores, is the only cost involved. Once you have registered your details, a free phone number allows anyone finding your dog to contact you by quoting the code. Working hours are from 09:00 to 15:00, and callers can leave a message after hours if necessary. The tags can, of course, be used for cats as well as dogs.

Abandoned on a Hvar beach - to the disgust of holidaymakers

There were several cases of abandoned dogs roaming around during 2016. Holidaymakers were rightly shocked to find there is no official facility for taking care of them. In one case, some visitors tried to help a lost dog, and then complained to the press (picture above) when they failed to make headway through official channels. However, to our knowledge, most if not all of the strays were accounted for through finding new owners to take care of them. Some went abroad, mostly to Germany, some remained on Hvar. As we do not yet have an animal shelter on Hvar, it is difficult to provide for all the homeless or unwanted dogs on the island. In 2016 Eco Hvar started a successful collaboration with the Animalis No-Kill Animal Shelter at Kaštel Sućurac just outside Split, run by Dr Zdenka Filipović.

Dr.Filipović with rescue dog Lina, May 2016. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Over the years, dogs accumulated around me in Pitve, which is of course what led to the founding of Eco Hvar. Pitve was viewed by many as the dumping ground for dogs and cats from the whole of the central region of Hvar Island. Some people brought the unwanted animals to me personally, showing some courtesy and consideration. Others simply abandoned them around the village, having been advised that there was someone in Pitve stupid enough to care about animal welfare. As the dogs multiplied, the problems grew. More space, more food, more dog handlers were needed. Much as I love animals, I knew I could not care for all the ones in need in my area, never mind the ones who were brought in from further afield. With no easy solution in sight, it was a godsend when I realized that the Animalis Centre was willing to help. It was especially heartening to know that the Centre has a very successful relationship with German animal charities, including Streunerglück in Munich, who are especially committed to finding homes for unwanted dogs both from Germany and elsewhere. My first priority was to reduce my collection of male dogs, who were in constant, often violent competition with each other for the accolade of Top Dog.

Homeseekers Benđi and his mother Sweetie (right), July 2014. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Benđi was transferred to the Animalis Centre in February 2016. He had come to Pitve in August 2008, not dumped there on purpose, but wandering as a young innocent following his mother as she roamed the countryside looking for adventure. The mother was on heat, so there was noisy havoc when she first cavorted around the compound where my dogs are kept, in the middle of one hot summer's night. When she visited again a couple of days later, a neighbour took her in. She was then re-united with her various siblings and their mother Renči who had already been given shelter with me in Pitve. She was named Sweetie in honour of her happy temperament. As soon as circumstances allowed, she was sterilized, like her sisters and mother.

Renči (right) with Čorni from her first litter, pictured July 2007. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Renči had had four litters before her 'owner' got tired of her and dumped her. She was a small, gentle, good-natured little mongrel, worn out by constantly producing puppies. She recovered well in Pitve, and lived happily until her peaceful death. Sweetie was born in the fourth litter. Benđi inherited all the good characteristics passed on by his mother and grandmother. He was just a few months old at the time of his arrival in Pitve, and grew into a loving, playful, healthy canine specimen, just like the other members of his family. He can be seen playing with  Mala in the video below, while Čorni jumps all over Izo, the dogs' best friend.

Benđi, June 2014. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

It was not an easy decision to send any of the dogs away, but the situation had become unmanageable. Benđi was loving and lively, and clearly needed a home where he could have individual attention. To my intense relief and joy, it turned out well: Benđi was transferred to Germany in July 2016, and his foster home became permanent a few weeks later. He even had a new companion to share his life and play with.

Benđi (right) in his German home

Benđi was not the only Pitve rescue dog to find his way to Germany. In April 2015, just before Easter, seven abandoned puppies were to be seen, at one time near the Pitve tunnel to Zavala, at another in the Jelsa car park, then scattered around over a wide area. They were probably about 6-8 weeks old at the time, just capable of some independence, but understandably bewildered at being separated first from their mother and then from each other. One was tied to a tree beside the Pitve-Zaval tunnel, and had the good fortune to be found and adopted by a German family.

Tied to a tree, then on his way to Germany and a loving family, April 2015. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

As they have a holiday home on the south side of Hvar, he comes back to visit regularly, and even stopped by to visit us in Pitve in May 2016. Having found such a good home, he has obviously recovered from his early trauma.

Fully recovered a year on, a keen visitor to Pitve, May 2016. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

The puppies came from Vrbanj. Shocking though abandoning young dogs is, at least their mother was not deprived of them too early, and they were big enough to have a chance of surviving. It was also heartening to know that the owner had the mother sterilized once she had fully recovered from the birth. And it became clear after a few weeks that all the puppies were accounted for in new homes or at least foster homes. So the situation could have been a lot worse.

Lina, found in Pitve. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

One of the abandoned puppies found her way to Pitve, and sought shelter in a neighbour's wine-cellar, on April 3rd 2015. Although the children would have loved to keep her, there was no room for her there, so Lina was passed on to me. Then, five days later, a German family came pleading with me to take on yet another of the puppies, who had turned up at their holiday home in Donje Pitve. With about a dozen dogs already, I was overloaded. After a few phone calls, I was promised that the local council would finance transferring the puppy to the Kaštela Animal Shelter, so I took Bobi in, confident that it was only temporarily.

Bobi, found in Donje Pitve. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

And then, the very next day, a third Vrbanj puppy was brought to me, having turned up in Svirče. So Tina joined the merry canine throng.

Tina. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

They were all beautiful, good-natured creatures, with a happy disposition. I had no doubt that they would easily find new homes, given the right opportunity.

Siblings Bobi, Lina and Tina, dumped in April 2015. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

 They were happy to be handled, and were quick to learn the house rules. They got on well with the other dogs, and they loved to play, just as young dogs should.

Tina, Bobi and Lina playing, 13th April 2015. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Delightful though they were, it was impossible for me to keep them all. I was disappointed, not to say shocked, when the local council reneged on its promise to help out with Bobi. So I had to make my own arrangements, and bear all the costs myself. Difficult though this was, I was not disappointed with the outcome. Of the Vrbanj puppies, Lina and Bobi went to the Animalis Shelter in May 2016, and both moved on within a few weeks to new homes in Germany. The photos and reports I received were pleasingly reassuring.

Lina in her new German home

I am extremely grateful to Dr. Filipović and the Animalis Shelter for their care for these and all the other dogs that come their way. I am equally thankful to the German charities which are doing so much to help our unwanted animals, and especially to Stephanie Grabs, who is one of the main driving forces behind the rescue efforts, not only in Croatia, but in Bosnia and Hercegovina, where the needs are even more pressing.

With Lina, April 2015. Photo Frank Verhart

THANK YOU ALL! YOU ARE HELPING TO MAKE THE WORLD A KINDER PLACE, AND WE LOOK FORWARD TO EVEN MORE SUCCESSFUL COOPERATION IN 2017

© Vivian Grisogono MA(Oxon) 2017

The video below features Čorni, black and curly-haired, jumping all over his best friend Izo; Čorni's 'nephew' Benđi (black, short-haired) playing with Mala (small, mainly white); Čorni's half-sister Nada, blonde and tactful, hovering around the centre of interest; and towards the end Čorni and Nada's half-sister Tati (black and scruffy), always ready to turn upside-down in the hope of having her tummy stroked.

Media

Dogs at play with Izo in Pitve: Čorni (black, curly-haired), Nada (blonde), Mala (small and mainly white), Benđi (black, playing with Mala), and the gentle humble Tati (smaller black curly haired) Vivian Grisogono
You are here: Home about animals Animals and a Kinder World

Eco Environment News feeds

  • Drop in emissions was a blip, say scientists, and a green recovery is vital to halt global heating

    The draconian coronavirus lockdowns across the world have led to sharp drops in carbon emissions, but this will have “negligible” impact on the climate crisis, with global heating cut by just 0.01C by 2030, a study has found.

    But the analysis also shows that putting the huge sums of post-Covid-19 government funding into a green recovery and shunning fossil fuels will give the world a good chance of keeping the rise in global temperatures below 1.5C. The scientists said we are now at a “make or break” moment in keeping under the limit – as compared with pre-industrial levels – agreed by the world’s governments to avoid the worst effects of global heating.

    Continue reading...

  • District councils want to protect beauty spots during coming warm and sunny weekend

    District councils in England are urging people going to parks and green spaces to dispose of their rubbish safely and responsibly, ahead of an expected surge in visits during this weekend’s mini-heatwave.

    The District Councils’ Network – which represents 187 district councils in England, which are responsible for maintaining parks and beauty spots – is calling on the public to use bins but to take their rubbish home if they are full. It is also asking dog walkers to make sure they clean up their pets’ mess.

    Continue reading...

  • Linkenholt, Hampshire, North Wessex Downs:The Sgt Pepper military yellow of St John’s wort rocks against the stiff purple mohicans of knapweed

    I am in the garden, gently nodding along to the strains of Joy Division – specifically She’s Lost Control, being played for the fourth time that morning by my 18-year-old son. It is not until the synth snare veers off that I realise I’ve been bopping along to the stridulating chirps of an indie punk grasshopper. It is time to go out.

    Between Sheepless Hill and Combe Wood, there is an insect mosh pit down in the chalk scrub. These areas of low scrub on the high chalk are quite distinct from the open down and woodland edge, and are more often mown out of existence. On this south-facing slope, taller wildflowers mingle with bramble and dewberry briars, the latter’s fruits ripening independently in blue, black, purple and red. The sparse, clouded drupes may look like inferior blackberries, but their taste is more reliably sweet. The scrub ends in a frothy, petticoat surf of fragrant hedge bedstraw at the fence. Inside, it’s a riot: a collision of colour clash and buzzy feedback, swaying in the hot breeze.

    Continue reading...

  • Researchers say moderate reductions in CO2 emissions could halve their likelihood

    Extreme droughts are likely to become much more frequent across central Europe, and if global greenhouse gas emissions rise strongly they could happen seven times more often, new research has shown.

    The area of crops likely to be affected by drought is also set to increase, and under sharply rising CO2 levels would nearly double in central Europe in the second half of this century, to more than 40m hectares (154,440 sq miles) of farmland.

    Continue reading...

  • Fibreglass fuelled a boating boom. But now dumped and ageing craft are breaking up, releasing toxins and microplastics across the world

    Where do old boats go to die? The cynical answer is they are put on eBay for a few pennies in the hope they become some other ignorant dreamer’s problem.

    As a marine biologist, I am increasingly aware that the casual disposal of boats made out of fibreglass is harming our coastal marine life. The problem of end-of-life boat management and disposal has gone global, and some island nations are even worried about their already overstretched landfill.

    Continue reading...

  • Overheated polemics won’t solve this emergency – and the apocalypse is a needlessly high bar for action

    Protesters march in the streets in an “extinction rebellion” against the climate crisis, with some (but not all) of their leaders claiming that climate tipping points could kill billions in the coming decades. Others dismiss the importance or reality of the crisis, while new books loudly proclaim “apocalypse never” and “false alarm”.

    The popular discourse around the climate emergency all too often highlights fringe voices that predict the end of the world or suggest that there is little to worry about. But as the climatologist Steven Schneider presciently remarked a decade ago, when it comes to the climate “the end of the world” and “good for us” are probably the two least likely outcomes.

    Continue reading...

  • A vast fishing armada off Ecuador’s biodiverse Pacific islands has stirred alarm over ‘indiscriminate’ fishing practices

    Jonathan Green had been tracking a whale shark named Hope across the eastern Pacific for 280 days when the satellite transmissions from a GPS tag on her dorsal fin abruptly stopped.

    It was not unusual for the GPS signal to go silent, even for weeks at a time, said Green, a scientist who has been studying the world’s largest fish for three decades in the unique marine ecosystem around the Galápagos Islands.

    Continue reading...

  • Family of reestablished colony legally sanctioned to remain in east Devon habitat

    The first beavers to live wild in England for centuries are to be allowed to remain in their new home on the River Otter in east Devon after a five-year reintroduction trial.

    The government gave permission on Thursday for the reestablished colony to remain in the area, the first wild breeding of beavers in 400 years and the first legally sanctioned reintroduction of an extinct native mammal to England.

    Continue reading...

  • Rats and bats that host pandemic pathogens like Covid-19 increase in damaged ecosystems, analysis shows

    The human destruction of natural ecosystems increases the numbers of rats, bats and other animals that harbour diseases that can lead to pandemics such as Covid-19, a comprehensive analysis has found.

    The research assessed nearly 7,000 animal communities on six continents and found that the conversion of wild places into farmland or settlements often wipes out larger species. It found that the damage benefits smaller, more adaptable creatures that also carry the most pathogens that can pass to humans.

    Continue reading...

  • Langstone, Hampshire: Garden tigers and hummingbird hawkmoths are spectacular, but there are gems among the smaller species too

    There are significantly more species of day-flying moths in the UK than there are butterflies – over twice as many large “macro moths”, plus a number of smaller, harder to identify “micro” species – but they are often overlooked in favour of their more familiar cousins.

    It’s impossible to ignore the hummingbird hawkmoth darting back and forward between my buddleia bushes in the company of another summer visitor, a silver Y. As it hovers with an audible hum, supping nectar through its inch-long curved proboscis, I can see why this spectacular migrant is easily mistaken for its namesake. Though unrelated, both creatures have evolved similar traits – a perfect example of convergent evolution.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds

Feed not found.