Another Horror Shelter in Bosnia


I have written about Gladno Polje Shelter in Sarajevo before, here:
Horror Camps for Animals in Bosnia.

This shelter houses about 200 dogs, who live in appalling conditions due to lack of funding from the Municipality and Agricultural co-operative who started the shelter. Please read the above post for details of the conditions of the shelter.


Essentially the workers in the shelter were given responsibility for the dogs on a minimal wage and without health insurance and so on, but no adequate fund to actually care for the dogs.


Sanela Kotorić Etterle and Adnan Smailbegovic, who volunteered thousands of hours of their time right from the start of the shelter, and were employees of the Director (Almir Džanković) for a few months, have been banned from entry to Gladno Polje. Sanela Kotorić Etterle and Adnan Smailbegovic have been told by the Director of the shelter that they are “not needed.”

The Director has changed the locks on the doors and has not given anyone any adequate reason why he has banned them from even visiting the dogs they have cared for for so long.

dogsinboxOur group, Animal Advocates for Bosnia (AWAB) has raised funds for food and spay-neuter programmes at Gladno Polje and I know from personal experience that Sanela and Adnan have only ever had the dogs’ well-being in mind. Sanela has worked tirelessly, putting her home-life, her health, at stake, to try to help the dogs at this shelter.

Sanela constantly begged the Director for more support for the dogs. She says:

“I didn’t want to start any arguments or wars. I’ve been always the one who wanted peace and contacted the other side to negotiate, to discuss in a civilised manner everything. When myself and the Director would meet, the story was always the same : he always gave the same promises which were never fulfilled.

I never asked for money. I worked all this time to provide for those dogs everything they might need. All I asked from him was to hire normal people to work there, who would maintain the hygiene at the shelter. I have stopped asking questions concerning spaying/neutering, vet care , food and everything else. When it comes to costs of transportation those dogs to the vets or to transport food to the shelter from people who have donated it to the shelter, all of that was financed from my own pocket or from the pockets of several other volunteers.”


Note that our group, AWAB, raised funds for the spay-neuter of over a dozen dogs at Gladno Polje, in particular the 10+ dogs rescued from Hresa last year who were then placed at Gladno Polje. We have also raised considerable funds for food, and have photographs and receipts to prove that the money was used appropriately.

On the fifth of March, Sanela wrote the following on Facebook:

“Adnan Smailbegovic and myself, Sanela Kotoric Etterle, received an official restriction to approach the Shelter Gladno Polje, a restriction to approach the dogs in this shelter. We have been banned and prohibited from  taking these dogs to an event at ‘Importanne Centre’ to help find them adopters and to collect financial and material help for the dogs at Gladno. In short,we have been denied access to these dogs in any way. I was not given any explanation. They hung up when I tried to contact the Director or anyone who in authority.”

541783_598362060175588_49124645_nIt’s important to note that, unlike workers at some other dog “shelters” in Bosnia, Sanela has always been quite clear about the terrible conditions for the dogs at Gladno Polje, and has published countless photographs on Facebook and appeals for donations.

On April 7th, a group of volunteers visited the dogs at Gladno Polje.

The purpose of the visit was to spend time with the dogs and to bring them food. After they were denied access to the shelter by an employee, volunteers explained that they were there during visitation hours, as the shelter sign clearly stated. They received a very confusing answer by the same employee, who explained that they are currently not accepting any visitors, because Sanela and Adnan are banned from the shelter and that Sanela and Adnan, according to the employee, were thieves who collected food for the dogs and then stole or sold it. This information was given to the employees by the Director.

184191_579177658760695_1527575096_nVolunteers told the employee that they will contact the local media. Entrance was immediately granted to see and feed the dogs, but the employees of the shelter oversaw the entire feeding process and claimed that the dogs were not hungry and that the volunteers were wasting food.

The shelter employee then immediately proceeded to remove the shelter sign which showed the visitation hours of the shelter.

521832_598366913508436_808215850_nDženita, one of the employees at the shelter, is a veterinary technician, but because of the primary problem of horrendous living conditions for the dogs, she was not able to use her training as all her time was needed to keep the kennels clean. Sanela says:  “Dženita was a cleaning lady who worked for a little bit of money, which she hasn’t even barely received to date. She was a puppet (like some of us) to those who comfortably sat in their chairs and received their salaries on time, including insurance and benefits. They received their salaries from the money that was supposed to be spent on the dogs in the shelter.

537150_597957303549397_935436962_nHowever, the Director of Gladno Polje pulled his Administration Assistant from his office and sent her to the shelter to take care of the hygiene and to oversee the entire process with the dogs.

Sanela tells us: “A woman who hasn’t walked into the shelter for months, not to mention that she doesn’t know those dogs and dogs in general (like the Director himself). This woman couldn’t even tell two dogs apart on the website when we only had 30-40 dogs at the shelter. So, today this woman told Dženita that all the shelter needed was a woman’s hand for everything to run smoothly…

Dženita has now also been banned from the shelter.

On April 8th, the cantonal veterinary inspector visited Gladno Polje and witnessed the terrible conditions for themselves.

They returned two days later to find that the hygienic condition had improved. The kennels were cleaned up, the fence surrounding the shelter had been fixed so the dogs could not get out, and the dog kennels that were destroyed by the wind had been fixed.

However, advocates have heard today (14 April) from Haris, a visitor to the shelter that conditions are still very bad.


This situation at Gladno Polje is complex and confusing. So-called improved conditions – if there are any  – are unlikely to remain. And certainly, the sacking of Sanela, Adnan and Dženita is entirely unjust and the well-being and livelihood of the dogs there remains in a very precarious balance – as always. 


Sanela says: “I believe and I hope that every day will get better and that they will continue to work in a positive direction for the dogs, even if I’m not allowed access to the shelter… Even at the cost that I’m never again allowed access. All I want is better conditions for the dogs. It is sad that it had to come to all this and that everything I begged for months has now been executed in two days. I will always suffer for and miss those dogs, but I will survive. I only hope they never have to suffer again. At this moment we are still waiting for vet inspection report and then we will make our next step together.”

Addition, 16 April: More details from Haris the visitor to Gladno: “Conditions are horrible, staff absent (and returned drunk 20 mins. later). Dogs have no water, lying in their own feces, pups month old wandering unsupervised! Staff completely inept, letting people take dogs without any paper trail.”

3dogsSanela’s Facebook page where you can find more photographs:

Petition to sign: Petition demanding an investigation into Gladno Polje

Letters to write (Please be polite and clear):
Main veterinary inspectorate chief (female) Joka Hlubna
– email  address:

Head of the Municipality Prof. Senaid Memic
– email addresses:

The Director of Gladno Polje Almir Džanković :
FaceBook page


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Funds are needed not only to help individual rescues and to help us keep safe the 20 rescued dogs we are sponsoring but also to continue our advocacy work in Bosnia, uncovering the truth about what is happening there.

On our sister site, Animal Welfare Advocates for Bosnia, you can set up a monthly donation via PayPal, or if you want to make a one-off donation, please go to your PayPal account (or set one up, it’s very easy) and send the money to: as a ‘gift’. Click on the image below to be taken to PayPal’s home page.


Or if you want to use the customised PayPal form, click the link below. However, a transaction fee and a percentage (2- 5.4%) will be deducted by PayPal for any contribution made.

If you want your contribution to go to a specific dog or cause, please make a note in the PayPal comment box. If you wish to contribute via bank transfer or have other difficulties or questions, please go here.


This site is dedicated to Vučko. Read his story and don’t let him have suffered and died in vain. Please help the stray dogs and cats in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The situation there is utterly dire, Vučko is but one amongst many horrifically abused animals. Go here to find out how to help them.  Money is needed for food, medicine and foster housing. Even just one dollar or one euro will help.


11 thoughts on “Another Horror Shelter in Bosnia

  1. Just sent (polite) email to the addresses provided, and a message on FaceBook to the shelter director: Hello, I am writing to you regarding this animal shelter. It has come to our attention that several animal welfare people have recently been banned from entering this shelter. These people wish to help the dogs inside, and should be allowed to do so. Apparently the conditions at this shelter are appalling, and any help should be very much welcomed.

    Please can you see to it that they are in fact allowed to gain entry and help these most unfortunate animals?

    Thank you very much.

  2. This kind of treatment and abuse is really sad and should never be allowed. Also the lies about the volunteers helping the dogs need to be cleared up and apologies made to the volunteers. It sounds like the employees need to fired and an entirely new staff that cares about animals needs to replace them.

  3. Is there any end to the reports of ill treatment of stray animals in the Balkans??? These poor sad animals would be better off left on the streets or dead! To refuse entry to welfare workers is appalling …or do they have a guilty conscience??? Will write – hopefully if enough people from abroad do complain they MIGHT just listen. But in the end it is up the local people who must really bring about change

  4. Th who is my concern.
    I’m writing to you regarding this animal shelter. It has come to our attention that several animal welfare people have recently been banned from entering this shelter. These people wish to help the dogs inside, and should be allowed to do so. Apparently the conditions at this shelter are appalling, and any help should be very much welcomed.

    Please can you see to it that they are in fact allowed to gain entry and help these most unfortunate animals?

    Thank you very much.
    Dr Kurt Amsler

  5. Are the donations going towards the up keep of the animals in the shelter or used for the sole purpose of identifying the bad shelteretc. Are you getting the Bosnian Government involved ?

    • Astrid — unless we can be 100% sure that donations of food and so on will go to the dogs, for now donations will go towards other dire cases and towards ensuring the dogs we have already rescued from the streets stay safe and are found homes. We have already donated hundreds of euros to food for the dogs in this shelter and to spay-neuter programmes – and will continue to do so once we can ensure that we have a trustworthy contact at the shelter. Sanela and Adnan were those contacts and now they are not there, so we have to see what happens. The Bosnian Government is not interested in this situation. We have campaigned at great length for other similar horrendous animal welfare cases, including involving EU MEPs who have taking the issue of animal welfare to the EU Parliament. Perhaps some of this will make a difference and we will continue to do what we can. Please email anyone and everyone you know: media, politicians who care for animals, celebrities. There is more information in Action to Take:

  6. I just sent emails to all the people and addresses listed. I hope all the support shown will make a positive difference in the treatment of these poor animals at this facility. (Sorry, I just can’t call it a shelter!) Also posted this on Facebook.

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