The "Hayot Life" Shelter greets the volunteers with barking voices. Dozens of dogs, large and small, immediately run out to meet them: wagging their tails, impatiently touching their paws, flashing wet noses and attentive eyes. Everyone wants to get their part of affection and warm touch.
More than 300 souls have been gathered in the “Hayot Life” shelter. More than three hundred lives, stories, tragedies. The fate of each inhabitant of the shelter is nothing, an empty sound on the scale of a city, country, world. However, in this shelter, a new life begins, and each saved soul is a great value for volunteers and leaders of the shelter. All stories of getting here can be divided into two types: the owners "played enough" with the animal or moved and sent the pet out into the street, or the animal was already born on the street, from street parents.
It is difficult to imagine what the dog, who had everything - a warm rug, and food, and the gentle hand of his beloved owner, is going through, and suddenly it all disappears. Yes, dogs, like humans, get older and sick. They also need care and treatment but sometimes it is "too troublesome to treat" ... Those who were born on the street find it easier. Pets are absolutely helpless, unfortunately. One way or another, they fall into a catch, where, as a rule, the so-called "utilization" awaits them.
We work under the auspices of the Society for the Protection of Animals. In general, this land was allocated to us back in 2013; Zahida Islamova was originally involved in the project. But she has a lot of animals, it was unrealistic to manage everything and until 2015 the activity stopped. There is a lot of paperwork - each document needs to be certified, approved, signed, run around the authorities and officials. The fire service and the State Committee for Geology carried out separate inspections. We carried out a topographic survey of the area to make sure that there were no mineral deposits in the area. In 2015, the issued certificates were canceled and everything had to be done anew.
The registration took 4 years. Faced with an elementary misunderstanding. "Why are you doing this? It would be better to help people. " And it was very difficult to explain that there are many societies helping people, and there is practically no one to help animals. But someone has to deal with this problem as well. The President's Portal was very helpful. When I was assigned to the regional local authority called “khokimiyat” the capital construction department, things went faster. Now it remains to deal with electricity: put a transformer and provide heating to the enclosures.
Does the shelter have sponsors?
Yes, we are ourselves. Those who are not indifferent to the fate of animals. I had to deny myself a lot, I sold expensive jewelry, even clothes, in order to raise money for the construction and arrangement of our shelter. Fundraising for the card was also announced, collecting money from the whole world. Even 5000 sums from grandmothers also saved a lot. Every penny counts, everything is necessary and important. I hired the construction crews myself, brought them lunches and materials. Recently, a large company helped with building materials.
Who cares for the animals on a daily basis?
We have three people permanently living here. They feed animals, take care of them, keep the aviaries in order. They work with us officially and receive a salary. We also have builders now and they also look after our pets, although this is not their responsibility.
What plans do you have in the near future and in perspective?
We are building a kitchen now. The shelter is located in the mountains, where it is very windy, which makes it quite difficult to cook. Therefore, it is necessary to build a covered space where it will be possible to safely prepare food for our "tails". The next plans are to expand the development area. In general, we have been allocated 3 hectares; this is a huge area where you can place both the shelter itself and the quarantine zone, and even open your own clinic. At the moment there is a problem with the sterilization of pets - we simply do not have a place where animals can live in the postoperative period. Transportation of animals from our village to the city is also expensive. Our dream is also to obtain a license for castration and sterilization so that operations can be performed right here.
Volunteers visit the shelter every week. Every week they sacrifice their comfort, time, energy. Every week - new problems, new needs of the shelter, new pets with a sad fate. The only hope in the eyes of animals and love in the hearts of those who are not indifferent remains unchanged.
She knows everything about her pets, about their characters and stories - Victoria Sabikova, the soul and heart of the "Hayot Life" shelter.
How do animals get to you?
Most of the animals are hit by vehicles on the road. There are, of course, dogs whose owners refused them. Not everyone survives. We take care of, treat wounds, operate. One of our pets, Garik, was hit by a car, we had to implant a knitting needle into his paw. We are trying to find a new family for rescued animals, but, unfortunately, it is difficult. Each of our pets has its own character, each is unique and interesting as a character.
Why do animals get caught?
People's complaints. The problem is that if at least one neighbor does not like the animal in the yard, the government will be on his side, even if 10 residents are in favor. It is necessary to instill an understanding of the humane treatment of animals.
What needs to be done to improve the situation with stray animals? Maybe a system of fines or an agreement about understanding the responsibility?
We have this rule: before giving the animal to new owners, we conclude an agreement. But this system can work and vice versa - many people will be afraid to take an animal to home due to the fear of fines. Situations are different. Animals can run away. Imagine that a cat runs away from a pensioner and that she “overlooked” her pet, she will be fined. Of course, she would never take an animal again. Moreover, most people will be stopped by this fear of fines. Of course, “quality, not quantity” is better. Responsible owners are desirable, but so far such a system is inapplicable in our realities. And for cruel treatment of animals, it would be nice to arrange forced labor to clean shelters.
And can animal therapy be done too?
Yes, we have such an experience. We are happy to transfer our pets to families with disabled people. These are positive emotions; it is scientifically proven that communication with animals is beneficial for children with cerebral palsy, Down's syndrome or autism. We could gladly conduct excursions for children and adults as well. First, close contact with animals removes many prejudices. Secondly, it teaches humanity. Visitors will be able to see where the discarded animals go; maybe this will make you think about the rules for dealing with our smaller friends and about responsibility.
What does a job at this shelter give you?
Peace of mind. I'm glad there is such a place. I am glad that now the volunteers have a place to identify the found dog, even if it is in poor condition. I have been doing this business for five years and during this time I have never regretted that I got here. Relatives treat it well, dogs and cats live in our homes.
What can be done to reduce stray animals?
Sterilization and castration in the first place. If fines are introduced, it will be great too. Now cameras are installed everywhere and it will be easy to find out those who, for the sake of fun, "run into" animals. These fines will both replenish the state budget and force drivers to be more attentive. In front of my eyes, there was more than one case of deliberate hitting of animals.
Where does such cruelty in people come from?
It seems to me that everything comes from childhood. Many parents tell their child, "Wow, don't touch, the dogs are dirty, bad." This is where it all stretches. It is necessary to improve the culture of dealing with animals. And you should start with children. All is not yet lost.
Betty was taken to the veterinary clinic by the owner. To put to sleep. Like, old already, what can you take from her. The sides resemble a washboard because of the protruding ribs; Betty can hardly move her hind legs. Now she lives in a shelter for dogs "Hayot Life" and nothing threatens her life anymore. The wool has ceased to seem matted, the sides are rounded, but she looks at all Betty with reproach. Especially if you start discussing her appearance. She looks sullenly with his touchingly protruding lower jaw and the look eloquently says “To me, experts. I would have looked at you if you lived like me. " Confused, we pat Betty on the angular head and she, with a sigh, waddles on about her doggy business.
The puppies hug each other warmly on an old mattress. Small paws tremble in a dream: obviously, dreaming about long walks, lawns, or games with brothers. We take warm lumps in the palm of our hand, they funnily bury their wet noses in the neck, sniff and sometimes shudder. Chubby belly, naive eyes, funny hanging ears. All children are adorable and these puppies are no exception.
An offended whine is heard nearby and Kai, a medium-sized dog, rushes to the volunteer for consolation. While the girl gently ruffles his fur, Kai seems to be complaining in his ear, talking about his dog's troubles. Nearby, the volunteers chuckle: “Tattletale! He always sticks to those who are bigger, gets what deserves, and then runs to complain. " The dog, feeling a kind disposition to himself, begins to howl more and more sorrowful, sadder and sadder: "Pity me completely!"
My attention is attracted by a large dog, huddling to the enclosure grate, from the outside. He slouches, tail between his legs tries to appear smaller. Nearby, a lapdog ran briskly at a gallop, crunching a branch that fell under his paw. The dog cowered, even more, began to tremble. With all his appearance, he shows that it is not his fault that he was born so large and awkward. It is not his fault that he turned out to be of no use to anyone and fell into a trap. The frozen eyes "sorry ... sorry ..."
Aviary with cats. Wild contrast: representatives of the cat family are lazily squinting in the sun, and a black dog is raging at the very mesh of the enclosure, as if guarding the purring and meowing neighbors. The volunteers joke among themselves: "Apparently, he grew up among cats and now thinks that he meows, but it turns out barking." As soon as he went to the net and raised his hands, the cats immediately ran up and began to rub against their palms. The whole head, ears, noses, tickling fingers with a fluffy mustache. They hum like miniature tractors, crowd around the net, demanding attention and affection. At least a little warm touch. As soon as the hand was removed, one of the cats, in pursuit of a weasel, tries to squeeze through the bars and gets stuck with its head in the mesh of the net. By joint efforts, we rescue the silently patient cat. But after a couple of minutes, he again strives to repeat the dangerous trick, stubbornly pushing his round head through the bars.
In one of the enclosures - fun and laughter. The volunteer is trying to clean up, but what kind of cleaning can we talk about if you can play? Sit in a basin for water, try to bite a broom, take an empty plastic bottle from your hands. Or even better - bring it from different corners of the enclosure, where the volunteer throws it. Cleaning? No, haven't heard.
Original Text in Russian prepared by Mila Gasheva, Tashkent, 06.11.2018 photo by Sardor Alimov