Here is a little insight of a trip to Korabiewicach animal sanctuary, Poland where Viva! (UK) staff were able to see first hand the great work of our Polish colleagues.
By Kat Himmel (director’s PA)
How would we cope? Speculation was rife as Claire Morley, Sam Gould and I prepared for our journey to Viva! Poland’s animal sanctuary at Korabiewicach. What could we expect to find in a place that is home to 350 dogs, 16 horses, eight cats, four bears, three goats, three pigs, one wolf and a bull?
How would we three pampered souls, who panic at the sight of snow, cope with persistent amounts of the white stuff and temperatures that average a relatively balmy -10ºC! We had willingly offered our help, but why oh why had we done so in the middle of January… in eastern Europe? So how do all the residents, human and non-human, contend with these conditions day after winter day, we wondered, and how does the organisation cope?
Everyone at Korabiewicach makes it look simple, but that’s because they’ve got a system in place. So precise it is that, suddenly, 350 dogs didn’t seem inconceivable. Once we realised that they’re all well fed, given ample attention and that their walks are monitored like clockwork, the idea that the task of looking after them was insurmountable quickly subsided. Given their maltreatment by human hands, all the dogs were remarkably welcoming – as is a dog’s way.
The number is constantly fluctuating, as dogs are re-homed – four during our 10 day stint – and new ones are brought in by Viva!’s astounding Intervention Team, who have the legal clout to seize abused or neglected animals.
Making good on our promises to put in some hard graft, we were soon humbled by the warmth, dedication and staggering achievements of the staff and their network of volunteers in the twelve months since they took over the reins. Under the previous owner, it had become hellish for the animals and she is still trying to wrest back control. “She will not succeed,” says Cezary Wyszynski, manager of Viva! Poland, with absolute assurance.
Even while he was building Viva! into Poland’s pre-eminent animal group, for five years Cezary volunteered at Korabiewicach and played a pivotal part in compiling the evidence that was used to help Viva! Poland to buy its 30 plus acres, seven buildings and a house.
Agata Rybkowska got involved with Viva! Poland at the age of 16 and now at the age of 23 is director of the sanctuary and a veteran of animal rescue. On a skeletal budget, she oversees her core team of stalwarts and an army of weekend volunteers. She remains smiling and indefatigable. ‘Remarkable’ and ‘highly organised’ are the words that describe this woman. Workaholic though she is, she could not do what she does without the tireless assistance of the rest of Team Korabiewicach.
Rafal Polec turns his hand to anything that needs doing; Katarzyna Solecka is the clinic administrator; Magda Slowinska is an all-rounder and part of Viva!’s Intervention Team, as is Pawel Artyfikiewicz; Irena Gu Kowalczyk is full of ideas for promoting adoption through social media (their Facebook page is below) and we’ll be helping to translate the pages into English so that the animals receive widespread exposure outside Poland, with a view to generating sponsorship.
Despite having managed miracles in such a short time, and despite a good infrastructure of endless fencing and runs for the animals, there is still a huge amount to do. The clinic is inadequate and under-equipped but essential. Whilst we were there, one of four vets who assists performed four neuters and one spay procedure. Toilet and washing facilities are basic and there are no water taps in the dogs’ runs. Drinking water has to be delivered to each one in a huge vessel hauled on the tractor. The house, essential to accommodate volunteers, is in disarray.
Funds are desperately needed as we are determined to help carry out these improvements to ensure Viva! Poland can continue to provide the devotion these traumatised animals need.
You might want to ponder a working holiday at Korabiewicach or perhaps make a contribution to help them – just a few pounds will provide warm straw bedding for three or four dogs! You can donate via Paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check them out on www.facebook.com/Schronisko.w.Korabiewicach