There are plenty of places in the United States, Canada, Europe, and beyond where thousands of rescue groups and organizations work to save as many stray and unwanted pets as humanly possible. If you live in one of these places, consider yourself lucky. Even though the thought of “kill shelters” hurts our hearts – sadly, there are more homeless pets than there are resources to support them – we should consider ourselves fortunate to be in countries where there are government-supported shelters at all. The fact is, not every government is willing to spend funds on saving animals.
One of those countries is Armenia, where a self-funded rescue called Pawsitive provides one of the few rays of hope for dogs that have been dumped or born on the streets. Volunteer Amy Jo Martin assists the Southeast German Shepherd Rescue in Virginia Beach but is in close contact with Pawsitive, and gave us the run-down.
“The Armenian government does not assist with any type of funding for animal rescues,” she told iHeartDogs. “They do not promote spay/neuter programs.”
Instead, they hired a group called UNIGRAPH-X, which is a “Stray Animal Control & Sterilization Service.”
Sadly, their method of “population control” is to slaughter the animals, sometimes tortuously, since there are no laws in the country to protect animal rights. What’s more, locals face no consequences for running them over with their cars or beating them – which they often do.
It must be mentioned that there are community members who will stop and give a stray a scrap of food or two. But there are far more people who see the problem, and simply turn away. The only sliver of hope that homeless dogs are a handful of self-funded rescues. That’s why, when Amy Jo heard about this incredible organization, she wanted to help.
“Since becoming familiar with this wonderful rescue, the selfless people who run it, and learning about the harsh conditions in which the dogs live, I have jumped in to try to help them as much as I can.”
This includes spreading awareness to donors and potential adopters in the United States, as well as adopting three special needs rescue pups from Pawsitive into her home: Chance, a partially paralyzed German Shepherd; Baxter, a Poodle mix who was hit by a car and has a wheelchair (you may remember his story!), and Odie, their newest addition who is missing his rear paws. (Amy Jo is raising money to fund Odie’s prosthesis – visit his GoFundMe page to help.)
“Special needs and senior dogs have a zero chance of being adopted [in Armenia],” Amy Jo says.
While the Pawsitive pups can be adopted by locals, she explains that rescuing pets isn’t widely practiced or promoted. The rescue has better luck sending pups to other countries and has adopted to people in the U.S., Canada, Sweden, Lebanon, and Russia.
“This rescue does so very much with so very little,” Amy Jo said. “The roadblocks they come across sometimes feel insurmountable. The local veterinarians do not offer rescue discounts, dog food companies and local pet stores do not donate bags of dog food (like they do in the states). Rescues are simply on their own.”
If you are thinking about adding another four-legged member to your family, consider adopting from Pawsitive. The distance may seem daunting, but these animal advocates go above and beyond when it comes to placing pups into safe homes. Pawsitive knows the ropes when it comes to vetting and paperwork for transporting dogs across borders, and have sent many pups to their forever homes through LAX in Los Angeles.
Amy Jo says that there is no adoption fee, but they do ask adopters to raise money toward transportation costs. It’s usually around $350, which isn’t much more than the price to adopt from many local rescues in America.
“We have adopted over 30 dogs from the USA (I started adopting at age 21 years) and I have found that the 3 Armenian dogs arrive better socialized and with very ‘balanced’ temperaments. I believe this is because they are housed in a compound setting, where they socialize with dogs of all breeds, sizes, ages, and both genders,” Amy Jo said.
You can also email Amy Jo herself at [email protected], with her passion and experience, she’ll gladly guide you through any questions or reservations you may have. She is currently working on spreading the word about adopting pets from Armenia, as well as networking with rescues in other countries to take some of these dogs into their care.
We want to thank Amy Jo for her dedication and for letting us share this story. It’s because of advocates like her – and the people who run Pawsitive – that there is hope for homeless pets in need.