Saving the Dogs of Gladno Polje, Bosnia


GladnoLeila2Gladno Polje is a public “shelter” on the outskirts of Sarajevo that has existed for 3 years. 150-200 dogs live in this shelter in horrific conditions, and more dogs and puppies are constantly being dumped, some in dire need of veterinary care.

If it were not for dog-catchers taking dogs off the streets to who-knows-where, dogs would probably be better off on the streets than in this awful place.

P1020658When Andrea and Sandra visited Gladno a few weeks ago, it was late afternoon. But because there is no electricity in the shelter, the inside part where there are many dog pens was in pitch darkness. The sensation of walking into this space is impossible to truly describe. All we could make out were some of the dogs’ eyes as they looked desperately at us through the bars of their pens. The smell was completely overpowering – there had been no running water that day, so the volunteers hadn’t been able to clean the pens, and the sound, the sound of barking, of screaming really… in this pitch darkness, and the air so thick with the smell of excrement and fear. Our eyes stung, it was hard not to stop ourselves from retching. And yet the volunteers were in there, in the darkness, doing everything they could, without complaint…

Video footage taken during Andrea Kalman and Sandra Jensen’s visit in September, 2014:


Sanela Kotorić Etterle, one of the main volunteers

The animal welfare law in Bosnia Herzegovina, which was created in 2009, stipulates that public shelters should provide adequate care for strays. Unfortunately this is not the case.

“..for five years no one has been fined for animal abuse; for five years there has not been a systematic approach to sterilization across BiH, for five years the inspection authorities across BiH have failed to conduct inspections and oversight of shelters, which are in fact torture camps for animals that exist under dubious and even criminal conditions and hygienic services operating outside of the law…” states Snezana Vidovic, President of the association for animal rescue and P1020652protection, Sapa Zenica. “… Shelters are not waiting rooms for death or a gathering places for animals waiting in line to be euthanized. Shelters should not be like the modern Alcatraz, but should be places that have an open door policy, transparency, are responsible and have a work ethic, and are places that you want to visit to adopt a dog.” Please read the full interview here.


this dog was recently dumped at the shelter… she has a growth on her teats…

Inga Dujmovic, Senior Associate of the State Veterinary Inspector for animal welfare in Bosnia Herzegovina says: “It is not enough to just build shelters. You must build an entire infrastructure of people to work in shelters in order for them to function. Especially because you are dealing with a large number of animals and there is an enormous amount of work. Hence, whoever goes into the business of running shelters must be ready for the fact that it entails a lot of work and that everything depends on the prescribed regulations. Conditions are definitely unhygienic and it appears that the shelters are over capacity.”

gladnopupInga Dujmovic was recently interviewed and she was asked if the Veterinary Inspector Department of BiH has jurisdiction over shelters. Her answer was: “Veterinary Inspector Department does have jurisdiction, however, we have not conducted shelter inspections.” When asked Why? she said: “The answer to that question must be sought from the Director of the Veterinary Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”


one of the dogs in the inside pens…

Gladno Polje shelter, unlike many public ‘shelters’ in Bosnia, does have a tiny group of three volunteers trying to help them. These volunteers fundraise for food, hay and also to try and do some work on the building itself and to build some better pens for the dogs.

Gladnopuppies copy




There are in fact employees who are paid to work in the shelter (or as we heard recently, haven’t been paid for the past couple of months). But very little is done at all… and as you can see from the photographs the place is in terrible condition, virtually falling down. The dogs are fed trash from restaurants, and very likely are abused by some of the workers – there is no proof, but the volunteers say it is possible to see the evidence on the dogs and in the dogs’ behaviour.

The shelter does not pay for sterilisations, so any unsterilised dogs have to be kept apart from the others.. if it’s possible. The only medical treatment received is if the volunteers are able to raise funds.
P1020736The dogs are in constant need of vaccines, flea protection and deworming pills. The volunteers also feed about 50 abandoned and street dogs in the municipality of Gladno Polje, who roam outside of the shelter. There is no room to bring them inside.

There is no heating in the shelter, only water, and often not even that – the volunteers have to bring water in, by hand. Volunteers try to supplement the dogs’ food as much as possible with donations (about 60 euros is needed per day).


conditions inside the main building are horrific

The roof of the building is damaged so it is leaking every time it rains. A lot of the dogs don`t have dog houses and many have nowhere to hide from the elements. Many dog boxes are either damaged or completely collapsed. Hygiene is very bad. There is no quarantine, so dogs brought in from the street are right away mixed with the dogs who are already at the shelter. The yard of the shelter is not properly fenced, so hungry dogs are constantly getting into fights with one another.

Video footage taken during Andrea Kalman and Sandra Jensen’s visit in September, 2014:


This little dog was adopted and then returned to Gladno Polje for not using the toilet outside… no one thought to teach him……

The fundraising event of AWABosnia is to try and assist the volunteers on the ground first and foremost with much needed funds for materials for urgent repairs of the shelter, for dog houses, for hay balls. Without this, many of the dogs, puppies in particular, will not survive the winter. And those who do survive, will be suffering immensely with no heating, damaged boxes, missing or damaged dog houses, no blankets or straw….wet, cold, scared dogs everywhere.

Below is video footage taken by Sanela Kotorić Etterle, the main volunteer who does everything she can to ensure the well-being of the dogs. But one person can only do so much… and there are so many dogs…

P1020673Just in the last week there have been some unforeseen difficulties with Gladno Polje shelter. The shelter director has stated he is not sure how long the shelter will be in existence and he suggested to her that she take as many dogs to safety as possible. None of this has been confirmed yet, but there’s a possibility that another organisation will be taking over, possibly Lokom, the hygiene service who the Sarajevo government employed to catch and remove strays (see Stray Dogs of Sarajevo to be Killed in Election Ploy and Animal rights activists claim: stray dogs are being killed two days after being caught).

1794744_10152361893331080_2473322703677950794_nNo one is offering any official information, but the news does not bode well for the dogs at the shelter. Lokum does not have a good reputation to say the least, and so far no public shelter has had public funds put into it to make it a liveable place for dogs.

It will be no small thing to re-house 150 – 200 dogs. In the meantime the volunteers will do what they can to make sure the dogs are fed and that any construction work done is removable.

Please join the AWABosnia FB Event: Help the dogs in Gladno Polje survive the winter! 

1492583_902850043060120_4334016915794271894_oAnd please share this blog with your friends. If these 200 dogs have to be moved, an extraordinary amount of assistance will be needed. Pensions normally cost around 120 euros per dog, fosters are virtually impossible to find and the difficulties involved in building a private shelter are almost insurmountable (please see Dog Shelters in Bosnia: A Complex Situation).


January 11 2015 CRITICAL UPDATE: Please see
Uncertain future for Dogs at Gladno Polje Shelter in Sarajevo

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Shelters in Bosnia Herzegovina
Veterinary Office of Bosnia: is it possible to solve the problem of stray dogs?
Another Horror Shelter in Bosnia

Saving Lucia and the dogs of Foča and Gorazde
Dog Shelters in Bosnia: A Complex Situation
Horror Camps for Animals in Bosnia
Concentration Camp for Man’s Best Friend
Concentration Camp for Man’s Best Friend PART TWO
Mass Graves Found Near Dog “Shelter”
Hresa Shelter:
Part One – Part Two – Part Three – Part Four – Part Five – Part Six – Part Seven


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.

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