Koirapakolaiset ry

The shelter of homeless dogs in Tallinn, Estonia - Kodutude Koerte Varjupaik

In Estonia most of the dogs do their walking by themselves. The old tradition is that when people leave to work in the morning they let their dogs out. Since the dogs are really rarely neutered and sterilized, this leads to enormous amounts of unwanted puppies. A lot of dogs also run away, and since most of them are mix breeds, they are not often sought after. These factors in general lead to a huge amount of stray dogs.

The shelter is located in Tallinn approx. 15 km from the city center. During the Soviet Union years the shelter area was a military base for the Red Army. The shelter has space for 150-200 dogs. There is a constant lack of all supplies to the dogs. Unfortunately most of the estonians who come to the shelter are only interested in adopting young purebred male dogs, therefore there is a real need for homes also outside of the country.

Most of the dogs live outside, chained to small doghouses with a chain that is approx. 2 m long. The inside kennels have space for only a small amount of dogs. In general only the smallest dogs and the dogs with the shortest hair live inside, the youngest puppies are also kept inside. Still in the winter even the inside premises tend to get cold, since there is no central heating.

Needless to say, the quality of the food isn't great either. The food consists mainly of leftovers. The first times when we visited the shelter the "menu of the day" could be just raw beetroots, potatoes and some mouldy bread. We are very happy to say that it has gotten better, though a lot more could still be done.

The poor living conditions can be extremely dangerous for the dogs, puppies especially. In the winter the dogs freeze to death and in the summer they die of heat strokes. Most of the dogs are also really worm infested, since they're not de-wormed on a regular basis, and especially a lot of the puppies die of problems with parasites. Different infections and blood poisonings are also far too common.

The workers of the shelter love the dogs so much that they don't want to put them down. Still you have to wonder if in fact is for the better interest of some of the dogs who are unlikely to never get a home to live month after month in these conditions. One of the dogs adopted to Finland had spent his whole life, 7 years at the shelter. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly he collapsed 3 weeks after getting a home. His body was already so destroyed that there was nothing that could be done for him. Still for the last weeks he was a loved member of the family and will have a place in the hearts of all of us forever. The no-kill rule also applies for very aggressive and terminaly ill dogs. When we started we had an appeal to the Estonian agriculture office, and we got results. The new rules apply that some dogs must be put down.

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