Karin Held in Italy
Travel report about the trip to Bari and Apulia, 2010/03/02 until 2010/03/09
After knotting our legs, we headed with very friable feelings towards Italy.
The next day, we first cuddled Stefanos dogs. All of them are former stray dogs, admitted as puppies, ill or because their pride was “suddenly” gone. Stefano lives in the smallest room and very unobstrusive.
The few incoming money is spent directly for the cats and dogs, both his own and the stray dogs on various feeding places.
Stefano had built a huge enclosure in which 5 of his own dogs live. Two are freewheeling. Furthermore he feeds various cats on his estate.
Today is the day for the long “feeding tour”. So first packing the bottles with water, the cans with dog food the provender. Yet the first contact point brought us an encounter with the “animal-loving” Italy.
Near Stefanos house, he feeds a cat on a fenced lot. During the feeding, a car stopped and a man opt out of it. He verbally attacked Stefano, why he throws cat food on a lot.
Actually this was not the owner. That was just a “nice” person who disliked the feeding of the cat. Fortunately nothing except the verbal attack happened. Stefano just answered that this is quite normal, getting attacked while feeding.
Near the railroad depot, we saw more stray dogs, which begged for food in front of the shops there. Afterwords we drove to the outer conurbation area. On some feeding places we could leave the car with Stefano and on others we “foreigners” had to stay inside the car, because the dogs have been to shy and afraid of unknown people to eat the displayed food.
But they recognized Stefanos car and Stefano itself. Dogs appeared from everywhere – small, large, younger and older ones. Cans of dog food were opened and the food has been offered either on the ground or on plastic plates. Provender and water as topping. The amounts of food depend on the dogs, living in the appropreate area.
We could fondle some of the less shy dogs. We say mummies with their puppies of all imaginable ages on the roadsides, in the field, in the forest or at the beach.
Near a roadside was a small low immured lot, were we fed 4 puppies which have been just 8 or 9 weeks old.
They have been so trusting and we could hug them.
Some of them came through the holes in the wall and ran on the street. How long will they survive? When will they be overrun, beaten, casted out or caught by dog-catchers, who bring them to the next Canile?
The lump in our throats got larger and larger and the mood became the more blue the more feeding places we reached the more we saw and the more Stefano told us. I cried so often. Innocent dog souls without any attention and no hope. I will never forget their eyes.
On two out the feeding places we went to, the dogs were kept on fenced areas. Stefano explained that most italian people only live on their lots for about 2 or 3 months. The rest of the year, they dissappear. The dogs stay back on the lots without any food or water. Laying under a sentence of death. Unless there are some animal welfare activists who supply the dogs the necessary things.
Unfortunately not all areas are visible from outside. I do not want to think about the other doomed dogs. The lucky ones were thrown on the street...On another area we fed a dog whose owner in fact lives there, but he does not care about his dog.
We also met other friendly animal welfare activists, who fed the stray animals. Often these people are very poor and they spend their last money to feed the animals.
After finishing our feeding tour, we emptied the bus and stored the donations in kind in Stefanos house. He allocated a part of it to his poor animal welfare activists so that they can feed their dogs.
Every of these animal rights activists lives in the permanent danger to get attacked – in a verbal and violent way. For napless reasons like pollution by laying down the food. That is more than mockery because the landscape of Apulia is indeed very nice, but the beaches, the forests and so on are completely polluted.
On saturday morning we unloaded the last food donations and with a heavy heart and bad mood, we went off to our homeward journey.
Okay, we planned to drive home, but our bus struck so we again had to go to the garage. And we again strike it lucky. It took only two hours and we could finally drive on.
When we reached Austria, there was heavy sleet, so we again searched a hotel late in the evening and continued our journey the next morning. Fortunately withous rain and snow. In the evening we reached Berlin – totally tired. But yet the journey did not end for Birgit. She still had to drive 4 hours back home.
I will never forget the experiences I made in Italy. The seen things have been burned into my soul. It is bad to read the reports or to see the pictures and the videos about the bad situation there. But the reality is indeed worse. Looking into the eyes of the dogs myself. To see and feel the desire for love and attention, the desparateness, the resignation.
Respect for all people who drive these long distances and face these experiences again and again to rescue animals. But in comparison to all this afflictions, the own problems seem to be very small.
Enough is enough!
Report and pictures