“Animal Lovers of Albania” is a new monthly column by Laura Fischer, a volunteer with JTUM, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of animals and humans in Albania.
Photo Credit: Zamira Kuçì and Elca Godina, two volunteers, at the Durrës project site.
As an animal lover, I’ll confess my time in Albania was challenging. Leaving my apartment meant facing the dreaded, inevitable encounter with yet another sick dog I did not know how to help. I soon began to isolate and avoided exploring more than I ever had in my many travels.
One difficult day, I met my favorite stray and realized she was deteriorating. Enough was enough. I needed to do something. Determined, I searched for help and thankfully found JETA: Tier und Mensch (JTUM), a small-but-mighty organization dedicated to improving the lives of both animals and humans in Albania. With just one quick Facebook message, I felt hopeful and connected for the first time since arriving in Albania. I continue to volunteer with JTUM and am a proud mom of a beautiful Albanian rescue pup!
Together, we can make life better in Albania… for all. If you’re unsure of how to help, read on and consider getting involved. We need you!
With limited resources and funding, volunteers are the backbone of JTUM. Although JTUM works mostly in the Durrësi and Fieri regions, there are opportunities wherever you’re based.
Our volunteers feed strays; give TLC to the dogs at project sites; transport animals who need medical attention; and participate in awareness projects, whether that’s handing out pamphlets and talking to locals or helping with educational workshops.
If you like to get your hands dirty, we need assistance maintaining and cleaning the project site in Durrës that approximately 35 dogs call home. These dogs, who cannot be released for various reasons, also need walks and love until they find their forever homes.
For those more politically motivated, join regular protests against the treatment and killing of animals in Albania. If you’re a policy or legal expert, we need your help to craft new animal rights laws and make them a reality.
There are countless opportunities. We need help with administrative tasks, social media and grant writing. If you have ideas and want to organize future projects, we welcome all collaborations!
Organize an event.
If you work with children, talk to your boss or colleagues about hosting a workshop. A volunteer will come to speak with the kids about stray animals. These programs help children cultivate a love, understanding and respect for animals that they may not learn elsewhere.
For those with networks or for business owners, consider hosting a fundraising drive to collect money or supplies. We always need food, blankets, towels, leashes, carriers and toys. If you have connections to larger companies or organizations, ask them to contribute.
Leave out fresh water and food.
If you can’t do this where you live, carry food and water with you when out and about. Leading by kindness can encourage others to act and do the same.
Liking and sharing messages on Instagram and Facebook may seem ineffective, but it spreads awareness and is a key fundraising tool. Social media pressure can also move the dial politically and encourage media outlets to pursue stories that need exposure. Plus, you never know who you may reach – a future volunteer, a donor, or even a family looking to adopt!
Adopt, Don’t Shop.
If you’re ready for the commitment, adopting an animal will change your life … for the better! The JTUM team helps navigate the entire process, especially for those who don’t plan to stay in Albania permanently. Want a trainer to help with the process? Check out Dog Walking and Coaching in Tirana or chat with us about options where you live.
If you’re stuck on a particular breed, contact us. Many dogs are purchased, then abandoned on the streets when they’re no longer wanted.
Can’t adopt because you move too much or aren’t ready to make the commitment? Foster! Foster families are critical for international adoptions, since expats who come to Albania and decide to adopt usually can’t take the dog or cat back to their home country immediately due to required tests and waiting periods. These animals need a place for a short period of time before they go to their forever home.
Saving the most obvious for last! As awareness about JTUM’s work grows, we receive more cases than we can manage. Turning away a needy animal because there are no funds is heartbreaking, so please consider donating today. Want to know how we use our funds? Tune in next month to find out more about our projects!
Email: [email protected]