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Interview with Anna Brezina from Pfötchenretter
With part of the money from our supporters we want to support an animal rights organization. The association "Pfötchenretter" is one of three organizations that can be chosen from our supporters to be sponsored by us. Here you can get an idea of "Pfötchenretter".
We visited and interviewed Anna Brezina from "Pfötchenretter" at Remagen (Koblenz, Germany).
CARMELO: "Hi Anna, thank you, that we can conduct an interview with you. My first question is: Can you describe in two or three sentences what your association exactly does?"
ANNA: “We help dogs in Germany and abroad to improve the actual bad situation of dogs. We perform castration events and get some dogs to Germany to find for them an adequate family. "
CARMELO: "How does an ordinary day of your staff looks like? And how exactly do you help the dogs?"
ANNA: "Each day begins very different because we are all very individual personalities. Some are working, I am a student with a part-time job and some are housewives / men. It may happen that at eight o´clock in the morning the phone rang. It could be prospective adopters or families that already have a dog from us, but still want to have support. Every day we have contact with the project managers / animal rights activists in the three countries abroad with whom we cooperate. We exchange ideas, for example about the characteristics of the re-home dogs. We communicate through social networks and phone calls to help the dogs and to get them a new home. We plan with them together the transports, the castration and all veterinary care. Therefore one of our main activities is to make calls. We must also do office work, such as sending contracts and documents. Furthermore, we are also on-tour to visit adopters, to see how the re-home dog lives. We also carry out preliminary checks on potential adopters to see if they meet the preconditions for the adoption of a dog. We have the responsibility of each individual dog, so that the mediation process shouldn´t be handled recklessly. "
CARMELO: "How does the mediation process look like? And by what criteria are the dogs chosen exactly?"
ANNA: "The mediation process begins with the close contact of the local animal rights activists. We are calling, skyping or use our social networks or email. Then we check which dogs are needed our help urgently. The dogs that have a low chance of mediation will be considered by us especially. We try to help more for these dogs that do not have a big chance to be mediated or other associations would not take. For example. There are wheelchair dogs that can´t no longer walk. We look first of all to the urgency. Whether the dog is still living on the streets, the dog´s character and what our interested parties prefer. When we have chosen the dogs then, they come to our website, the placement portals or on our social networks. We make also newspaper announcements.
There are families who want to adopt the dog directly. In this case, the dog will be picked up on the transport point, directly from the adopter. But there are families who want to give the dog only a temporary home. These are the so-called points of care that we are always looking for. These families take the dog until we found a nice home. Once we have found a suitable family, of course, the conditions / requirements must be checked. If. for example, the family got cats, dogs must be cat-friendly. We let test the dogs abroad from the local animal rights activists, how they react to children or how they have been socialized, so we can find the right family. There is nothing worse than the dog comes back from the family, due to incompatibility. So that the animal rights activists abroad and our association have not won anything, if false information has been given about the dog. But here we can rely on our local animal rights activists.
If the dog is mediated, we do a pre-control. Some time later, follow-up checks are also done to see whether the dog is still doing well. We remain in contact with the family and get also regular pics of the dog. That's the reward for our work. The dog lived on the streets before, he was doing badly, was emaciated or sick. And now he lives happily with his new family in a warm blanket, has a full tummy and gets all the love in the world. "
CARMELO: "Your organization has , as you already said, a number of projects abroad, such as in Romania, Bulgaria and Spain. Can you tell us something about that?"
ANNA: "We help in the three selected countries and work with animal rights activist or animal welfare organizations together. In Bulgaria there is a foundation in Romania and Spain, there are usually lone fighters, but also associations. We assist them in order to secure the local dogs. If dogs are in a killing station or are living on the street, we support animal rights activists, to build shelters for the dogs or to find adequate homes. We look after them from the discovery of the dog until the final animal health care (worming, vaccinations, chipping, possibly castration, etc.). Then the dog will be housed in a foster home in Germany or will be adopted directly from a family. It is also very important that we are not only importing the dogs to Germany, but also help locally in the respective countries. We make every month a so-called castration event. Here street dogs will be castrated to reduce the population. The dogs will be provided with a brand in the ear, so that the dog catcher can see that the dog is castrated. These dogs are usually not brought to the killing stations. "
CARMELO: "Why is it also important to help dogs abroad as well as in the home country?"
ANNA: "The first major difference between home and abroad is that in Germany, the dogs will not be killed in animal shelters. Here in Germany, many dog owners have problems with their animals, which are then placed in an animal shelter. Therefore we support the animal shelters here in Germany and also individuals who want to give off their dog. Abroad, the dogs generally have also fewer rights than in Germany.
Many animal shelters in Germany also operate abroad like us.
Here it is important that it is done honestly, trustworthy and transparent and that you know where donations are flowing. There are certainly a lot of "black sheeps" in this field that want only make money.
Therefore, transparency is very important, so you can see where the money goes and is using for them who really need it urgently. Many dogs abroad die by starvation or by cold. Death by cold is quite often, especially in Romania and Bulgaria. That is the reason why it is so important to help these dogs. Here in Germany there are more people who look after and do something against such evils. They report this to a regulatory authority or a veterinary office. I would also advise people in Germany to obtain help at such offices because we as an association do not have the right to take away a dog in an awkward position from a private family. In this context it is also important to help a dog that has no voice, abroad.
We, as an association, stand totally behind that this dog comes to Germany and gets a chance to live a normal life, as every dog deserves. And that's the important point. To give these dogs a chance. It is unfair that the chance is immediately be taken away just because the dog comes from another country."
CARMELO: "To come back to Germany. What are usually the reasons that dogs will be given off or neglected in Germany?"
ANNA: "We take care of our mediated dogs for a long time. By pre-and post controls, we check if the family is still suitable to handle the dog or the special characteristics of the dog. In the same way we help the dogs abroad, we also help many dogs in Germany. If e.g. a family contacted us that they can no longer keep the dog, and they don´t want to go to the shelter, we try to find a foster home for the dog. Here the dog can stay as long as it has a new home. If we don´t find a suitable foster home, we offer mediation assistance. I.e. the dog will be inserted in our social networks, in pet agencies portals, in newspaper announcements and on our website. In such moments these people don´t know how to handle such a situation and sometimes the shelter is unfortunately not the right place for the dog. Dogs in shelters have a lower mediation chance because the employees there can not say so much about the dogs, like the foster homes where the dogs live in a normal family connection. Important is that animal shelters and animal welfare organizations work together. In this matter it should not be a competition. The focus should be the mediation of the dog.
With this good cooperation we try to cope the issues that have dogs in Germany. Many dogs have e.g. the problem to be long time alone at home. From the 8th Month of life, the dogs get to awkward age where they are not so obedient and do a lot of nonsense. They snap, don´t get on no longer with the children, pull on the leash or show social incompatibilities on the street. Here we try to optimize the life with the dog in private families by giving tips and advices. "
CARMELO: "What important points should be attended by dog owners, so that the dogs are doing really well?"
ANNA: " At the beginning we are advising our adopters with three keywords: love, time and patience. In some cases a dog is been through a lot. It eg been separated from an existing family or has been exposed other unfavorable circumstances. In such cases, you must be approached with a lot of patience because some dogs are scared and have to regain confidence in humans.
With a loving and consequent training you can actually teach the dogs everything. The one can be lured with treats the other with toys. Some need a lot of cuddling, others are scared or overexcited. Every dog needs a very individual attention. We advise people to do not give up after a few weeks, but to consult or to get professional help from dog trainers and dog training schools.
Another important component is the veterinary side. The regular annual visit to the vet is very important. They need to be examined and come to a similar checkup, such as us humans. The dog should be dewormed every three months, especially if they live together with children. But the tick or flea protection should be, except for the winter months, accomplished out quarterly. You should regularly look at the teeth or the eyes of the dog. You have always to observe if everything works normally. And if it should be something, do not spare efforts or costs to go to the vet and get a professionally check-up. A tip from me: If I lay on the couch in the evening with my dog, then I caress him automatically. During stroking, you can sense changes in the skin, or even find a tick. "
CARMELO: "What are the benefits for humans when they get engaged with a dog? Is everyone suitable to keep a dog?"
ANNA: "If everyone is suitable that have to be checked, of course. That is the reason why we are doing pre-and follow-up checks. Our dogs are mediated only as a flat or a family dog, not for a yard, a kennel or on a chain. But anyone who has plenty of love in the heart or we say the dog heart in the right place they could get a dog. A pre-check sounds so fussy, but we do not check whether the person didn´t flush, last night. It is important that you feel the love. I take always my dog with me to see how people react.
Here you can see whether the people react fastidiously e.g. to dog hair. Such people should better not acquire a dog. A dog makes dirt. Especially in the winter with their muddy paws the ground is messed up quickly. It is important that the people know to what they get involved and that there may be a bond for 20 years.
And that is ultimately for me the profit that I can give the dog a home. I do animal welfare for over a year. Many people ask me why I am helping dogs. Then I explain whenever I look into the eyes of my dog, I think that many other dogs out there which are not doing so well deserve it to have a beautiful home and life, too. And that is the reason why we carry on. The dogs never do anything bad or out of spite, because they do not like one. The dogs just only want to be loved unconditionally. And if you give them love with a regular, consequent and loving education, then you have the best life partner in the world. And this feeling is sometimes not even given from humans. This is the reason why dogs are the most loyal companions, you may have. "
CARMELO: "Is there something you want to tell the people out there?"
ANNA: " I want that people out there, although they are not animal rights activists or they become the day after tomorrow activists, do not simply look away, but just look closely. I hope that animal suffering, whether in Germany, in a neighboring country or further away, become less. Especially the dogs have only humans. And who, if not us, should stand up for the dogs. "
CARMELO: "Why should our supporters support Pfötchenretter?"
ANNA: "Because we just make other animal welfare. We do not limit ourselves only to the home country but we are also active abroad. We help dogs who have almost no chance at all, ie which are written off by other animal welfare groups. These are dogs with one eye, wheelchair dogs or large black dogs. We give them also a happy life. We support a lot of people that need help in dealing with dogs. And I always say, when I look into the eyes of my dog, then I know exactly why I'm doing this. "
CARMELO: "Anna, many thanks for the interview. Thanks for your time, the advices and the presentation of your organization. "