Sasa Pesic runs a dog shelter in Serbia and has approximately 700 dogs in his care. He opened it in 2009 after finding four abandoned pups on the streets of his hometown of, Niš, Serbia. The stray dog problem is serious in his area, and at that time, dog-catchers would kill any dog found on the streets. Soon after taking in the pups, he rescued eight more, and in less than two months found himself with 50-60 dogs. He never planned to establish a shelter, and he had no idea how to care for so many animals, he just knew he couldn’t let any more street dogs be killed. In 2010, after his rescue grew to about 80 animals, he was asked to move, and he transferred his shelter to a nearby former equestrian club where it now resides.
The cage-free sanctuary is on approximately 40 acres, where the dogs are allowed to roam freely during the day, under the constant supervision of Sasa and his shelter volunteers. At about 4 p.m. each day, they are brought indoors to a large building where they sleep. Within the building they are separated in boxes, according to their temper, size, gender, and age, which is done for the sake of their safety. The shelter gets no funding from the government or local community. Sasa cares for the dogs out of his own pocket, or with the help of donations from Harmony Fund (see link below) or private donors who make occasional contributions.
The sanctuary is a true haven for the pups, as many dogs in the area are severely neglected and mistreated. Most dogs are not neutered, and people often abandon newborn pups on the street or discard them there if they don’t want a pet anymore. Sasa fought the city and local government as the shelter was almost forced to move (or close) in December 2015 . A Care2 petition that garnered massive international support, with over 250,000 signatures, halted the eviction of Sasa and his dogs.
He has also become an outspoken animal advocate, and people in the Serbian government, on both the national and regional levels, are now trying to change the animal welfare laws in the country. Many people violate the laws, regardless, and often with no penalties. Even though Serbia currently has a strongly-worded Animal Welfare Act, it is rarely enforced. The government is actively trying to amend this act for financial gain at the expense of animal suffering. The amendments to the Animal Welfare Act will weaken existing welfare laws and thus endanger animals.
Sasa is a true hero for dogs and animals, and we want to acknowledge and thank him here for his commitment and love, and for saving countless dogs’ lives.
Click here to donate to the shelter