Stray animals are being poisoned in Albania, Aida Shabani from animal welfare organization Dandi Animal Rescue Mission told The Animal Reader.
Shabani is asking for national and international support to implement effective TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release) programs in the country to cope with its stray population.
Can you describe the situation of stray animals in Albania?
In Albania, stray animals have been mistreated and neglected for years. The number of volunteers is very limited and mainly located in bigger cities, leaving other areas unsupported.
Public shelters do exist, but they are scarce, and conditions are often poor. Dogs are not treated with dignity; sometimes, municipalities even resort to mass poisoning or direct killing without explanation.
What does ‘mass poisoning’ entail?
Mass poisoning often involves municipalities like Tirana or Durrës capturing stray dogs and transporting them to remote areas, away from media and volunteers’ attention.
In these secluded locations, the dogs are poisoned en masse. We frequently receive disturbing images and videos of these incidents, but the fate of these dogs remains largely unknown.
What is the public attitude towards stray animals in Albania?
A: Most people in smaller cities are bothered by stray dogs, especially those with diseases or skin conditions. These dogs are often targeted for poisoning or killing by individuals, not just municipalities.
In the past five years, there’s been a slight increase in pet ownership and volunteerism, but the lack of proper education and information leads to many pets being abandoned. People often choose the wrong breed or lack the knowledge about animal care, leading to more strays.
Watch the full interview with Aida Shabani from Dandi Animal Rescue Mission here:
How did you start your mission to help animals?
My journey began with my first dog, Dandi, a Rottweiler who unfortunately passed away due to a tumor. Her presence taught me to understand and love animals.
I started rescuing and helping other organizations, eventually realizing my passion for caring for and finding homes for dogs, especially those with injuries or special needs.
My mission now is to conduct TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) campaigns and establish international connections for rehoming, particularly for handicapped animals.
What challenges do you face in your rescue efforts?
The biggest challenge is finding a balance between my full-time job and my passion for rescuing animals. Despite the difficulties, I am hopeful that one day I can dedicate myself fully to this cause.
Currently, we have seven rescued dogs at our home, each with their own special needs, including a blind dog and others with physical disabilities.
What is your ultimate goal for these rescued animals?
Our main focus is finding forever homes for these animals, especially the handicapped ones. They need as much attention and care as any other dog. Our aim is not just to rescue them but to ensure they have a quality life in a loving home.
What has been your most beautiful moment in this journey?
The most rewarding moments are when I receive photos of the dogs and cats happily settled in their forever families. Stories like that of Louie, a blind cat we fostered and later sent to Germany, where he found a loving family, are particularly heartwarming.
Do you see a potential change in Albania’s approach to animal welfare?
There’s hope for change in Albania’s mindset, including within the government, possibly moving towards better animal welfare programs like sterilization.
This change might require pressure and support from larger international organizations or the European Union. I believe with collaborative efforts, significant improvements can be made in the next five years.