It was a warm late summer afternoon on the streets of Vinnytsia in Ukraine, and not an unusual sight. Under trees, market stalls and beneath cars, an array of curled up dogs could be seen seeking shade from the hot sun.
Ukraine has an abundance of stray dogs, but the country is making a real effort to control the population effectively. FOUR PAWS works towards a humane and sustainable way to control the stray dog population, through spay and neuter campaigns, alongside providing veterinary care when needed, and improving public attitudes towards stray dogs in the country.
A member of our Ukrainian team came across a sweet ginger medium-sized stray dog. The foxy looking female was in search of human attention, and it was already clear she had a loving and gentle nature.
At the time, a new programme was starting in Ukraine – Animal Assisted Intervention (AAI). The programme, aiming to rescue and train former stray dogs to become therapy dogs to support vulnerable members of communities, was already successfully running in Romania and Bulgaria.
The team immediately bought some food for the stray. However, by the time they returned, she was gone. They decided to use photos and videos they had taken of her to try to track her down and rescue her from the streets of Vinnytsia. The team began a full search, sending pictures of this red-haired girl to volunteers and shelters in the region. And it was not until one month later that, by chance, our team came across the ginger ball of fur curled under a bench.
Lisa became the first therapy dog in Ukraine
Due to a hard life on the streets, she needed time to heal from malnutrition. Along with months of positive and fun training with our behaviourists, this sweet dog began to flourish! Due to her striking colour and unique look, she was named Lisa (Fox in Ukrainian).
Today, following her training, Lisa is able to play and communicate with children. She works as a therapy and stress relief dog for children with learning, physical or emotional difficulties.
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FOUR PAWS' Animal Assisted Interventions, Ukraine
The FOUR PAWS Animal Assisted Interventions (AAI) programme works with former stray dogs in Vinnytsia, Ukraine. The programme’s primary focus is on changing attitudes and behaviours towards stray dogs, by showing to the public the ability of stray dogs to be socialised and trained to create strong human-animal bonds. This is demonstrated through emotionally therapeutic interactions between humans and dogs.
Our AAI team focuses on delivering the highest level of human and animal welfare standards and creating a strong network in Ukraine. The team also provides public awareness activities to promote animal welfare, responsible pet ownership, reward-based training approaches and adoption of stray dogs. Ian, one of our team members, teaches animal psychology at a Ukrainian university where he integrates animal welfare components and shows psychology students how reward-based training approaches can benefit human-animal interactions especially in the field of AAI, and responsible pet ownership in general. Read more about our work in Ukraine here.