From: Laura Fischer
Animal Lovers of Albania: An Interview with a Puppy Rescuer and a Chance to Adopt

I emailed with Molly Müller, a foreigner in Albania who rescued five puppies. Here’s a snippet of our conversation.

Why are you in Albania?
I’m here doing Yoga Teacher Training. My partner is Albanian and I wanted to explore and experience where he is from.

How do you like Albania?

This is hard. I think Albania is an exciting country with space for new, innovative things. People always ask, “Do you like Albania? Do you like Albanian people?” By the way they ask, I ask myself, ‘Are they expecting me to say no?’ It’s complex.

I think people are proud of the country but find it a hard society to live in. Family is important. There are stark contrasts in class structures and between men and women. People here are amazingly friendly and welcoming. Drivers are terrible and dangerous. The ease people assert to life is refreshing. Everything goes and nothing is a problem – this can be a blessing and a curse. Overall, I think Albania is a beautiful country with many beautiful people but there are some places to be worked on. I can feel a lot of trauma stored here in the land and in the people.

One of the first things that stood out when we exited the ferry: the street dogs. As we drove to Lushnje, I saw more dead dogs on the side of the road than I have seen in my whole life. I was shocked. Then I saw all the yard dogs, chained up ‘to guard’. A sad life to end up there.

The dogs are kicked at, hit by rocks and cars, poisoned or captured to be killed. I am horrified. I don’t think this is OK. I value the idea that humans and animals can coexist. Animals are treated with a lack of decency here, especially the ones with no financial gain. There is a community of volunteers and animal lovers trying to help and I am so happy they exist. They deserve a big thanks and a lot of respect.

I agree. How did you find the puppies?

One evening on my usual walking route in Lushnje, I saw a puppy (Kiko). I thought the mum or owner were probably around. I went back the next day to check and found three puppies who looked sicker and hungrier than Kiko. I went to get food and water, then I found five. I talked to people in the neighbourhood who confirmed the mum had died a week prior. I went back every day for 5 days to feed them and saw them deteriorating. My heart couldn’t leave them. I lived in a small 52 m2 apartment but was determined to find a solution. I couldn’t take only the sickest because at that age they still need each other as littermates and for warmth.

We went straight to the vet, who just rolled his eyes and said (in Albanian), “Why did you take them all?” He gave us medicine for their parasites.

How did you find JETA: Tier und Mensch?   

When I first arrived, I searched the Internet for organisations helping animals. I found JTUM on Facebook. When I found the puppies, I reached out to every organisation. Because I then lived in an apartment where the owner wasn’t happy I was keeping puppies, I was urgently looking for foster homes/adoptions. Everyone told me the same thing: ‘This is the worst thing you can ask right now’.

Jenny from JTUM explained the process with vaccinations, tests and passports and told me they could support financially to prepare the puppies with all documents in order for them to be adopted abroad. JTUM also sent me to their trusted partner vets which gave me peace of mind.

Tell me more about the puppies!

They were approximately eight weeks old when I rescued them, all very different in features, size, colour and personalities. The vet even had to check they were from the same litter. They are, but have different fathers. This is called superfecundation and makes them even more unique and beautiful.

One was adopted by a nice Albanian family while we were at JTUM’s partner vet in Fier. I found other homes, two in Ireland and one in Germany. The adoptive families are people I know, which is relieving. Nala still needs a home.

There are so many puppies who need homes. It’s not easy to find families in Albania who can adopt. The best chance for the dogs to have a safe life is if they find a home outside of Albania. They must be 7 months old to enter the EU (with the necessary vaccines/tests and chips). This gap from when they are found to when they can go to a loving home is developmentally important. The shelters are full and foster homes are scarce. So, if you can, please foster or donate. 

So what is Nala like?

Nala is female. She has a brown/black body, white legs and a white stripe between her eyes. She is elegant and loves to explore. She is curious but calm and enjoys playing. When she’s had enough, she goes to her bed and watches. She has a slender, petite body with long legs. I think she will be medium-sized.

If you would like to adopt Nala or learn more, contact [email protected].