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Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina


Distaster relief Balkan floods: 150 tons of food for animals in distress in Serbia and Bosnia


The disaster relief team of the international animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS has been active for three weeks in the flooded areas of Serbia, helping thousands of animals affected by the floods, and preventing the spread of diseases. So far, FOUR PAWS staff have supplied food to over 50,000 animals with over 150 tons of food. The experienced team of vets has been treating farm and companion animals in a mobile animal clinic as well as on site in the affected buildings.

Over 150 tons of food have been provided in Serbia and Bosnia.
© FOUR PAWS | Yavor Gechev

Countless individual destinies

Many people had to flee from their homes without their companion animals when the floods arose. One dog left behind was “Fleki”.FOUR PAWS team found her on the first floor of a flooded house in Obrenovac. Vets treated the weak and fearful jack russel terrier and posted a photo of her on Facebook. It didn’t take long for her owner Daniela to be found. Daniela may have lost all her possessions, but her family, including “Fleki”, have survived. “I was so afraid for my ‘Fleki’, and I’m over the moon to have her back. I want to thank everyone who helped my dog!”

Daniela was happy to have "Fleki" back.
© FOUR PAWS | Elisabeth Blum

Confident into the future 

Countless farm animals have been and still are affected by the devastating floods. The farmer Milenko Grebic owns a farm, near Jamena, which has been flooded and totally cut off from civilisation for over two weeks. “Fortunately I managed to get all our sheep, pigs and dogs out of the water just in time; but the animals’ food soon ran out, and some of the animals had become ill, too. FOUR PAWS were the first to help us. They fed all our animals and gave them medical treatment. We’re just so incredibly grateful to them.”

Milenko Grebic is looking to the future again with some assurance
© FOUR PAWS | Yavor Gechev

The major of Bijeljina was enthused about the equipement in our mobile clinic.
© FOUR PAWS | Yavor Gechev

Active in Bosnia as well

Since last Sunday, FOUR PAWS is also active in Bijeljina (Bosnia). The town’s mayor had asked FOUR PAWS for help. The international team will leave the disaster zone tomorrow. “The waters are receding, and people are gradually going back to their homes, but there’s still a lot to do”, says Dr Amir Khalil, who is coordinating operations on the ground in Serbia. “We’ll keep sending food and medicine to affected areas. The local authorities will continue the work.”


Long-term experience in disaster relief

FOUR PAWS is looking back on a long experience with disaster relief missions and could already provide help for animals in need globally. “Working in crisis areas is about more than rescuing farm animals, which represent farmers’ livelihood; the psychological aspect is also vital. When the floods came, many people had to leave their pets behind, and they’re extremely distressed about it. The fact that FOUR PAWS is looking after animals in the evacuation zone gives them hope and assurance. In some cases we have even been able to reunite pets and their owners, and that’s a moment of happiness for all of us at this difficult time”, Dr Khalil summarises.

Update, 2014-06-06 to 06-08 – Food transports on their way to Bosnia


With immediate effect the FOUR PAWS disaster relief team is distributing food transports to Bosnia. In the area of Bijeljina 70 percent of almost 50,000 hectar agricultural fields have been flooded and more than 205,000 tons of food for farm animals have been destroyed. The people and farmers affected by the floods are in urgent need of 50 tons of food each day. The FOUR PAWS disaster relief team is starting with the distribution of food immediately to provide the daily amount needed there.

50 tons of food for farm and companion animals are required in the affected area around Bijeljina.

Animals under medical observation

The FOUR PAWS disaster relief team is worried about the health conditions of the Bosnian animals. Many of them are suffering from diarrhoea, respiratory diseases as well as injuries. The FOUR PAWS vets are on site with local vets to treat farm and companion animals in need.

Update, 2014-06-05 - 25 tons of food for triangle


The small town of Jamena, near the border to Bosnia and Croatia, has also been severely damaged by the devastating floods and is – even two weeks after the floods – still a restricted area, with access only permitted through the authorization of Serbian officials. Yesterday, our FOUR PAWS disaster relief team transported about 25 tons of food for farm and companion animals in the restricted area. Today, we have started to distribute the food to farmers and families with animals in need. Due to the close proximity to the borders of Croatia and Bosnia, we are expecting transnational food transports as well by Croatian and Bosnian people who are crossing borders. The majority of the rescued farm and companion animals have been temporarily sheltered in the nearby town of Sid.

100 tons of food have been provided by FOUR PAWS disaster relief team in the last two weeks.

On site almost continuously 

Over the last two weeks, FOUR PAWS has provided animals in Serbia with almost 100 tons of food. The FOUR PAWS disaster relief team has been on site continuously throughout this time, rescuing farm and companion animals who have been stranded, lost, homeless, injured, sick, and without food and water. Countless homes and farms are uninhabitable and many families won’t ever be able to return to them. Therefore, many animals, not only have they lost their homes, but they have lost their trusting families as well. FOUR PAWS is committed, on site, to help these animals who have been left behind and to provide them with food and veterinary care. Many animals are starving and suffer from highly contagious diarrhoea and parasites due to polluted water. Our experienced vets remain on site nonstop to treat these animals without delay.

Update, 2014-06-04 - Food transport to border triangle


Our FOUR PAWS disaster relief team is distributing food for farmers and families with farm and companion animals in need in Obrenovac as well as Jamena – a Serbian city near the boarder to Bosnia and Croatia. The fact that Jamena is located in the triangle of Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia enables transnational food supply. Both, Bosnia and Croatia have also been severely hit by the devastating floods. The situation in Bosnia has been even worse as the floods loosened land mines and increased the danger of explosions. Therefore, our team was not permitted to enter those areas to help directly on site. Today, 25 tons of food will arrive in Jamena and be distributed to help as many animals as possible.

Some people affected come from far away to get food for their animals in need.

Successful removal of tumour

Yesterday, our vets in Obrenovac provided medical care for more than 110 animals which was quite stressful. Besides routine treatments against diarrhoea and parasites, a complicated surgery took place in our mobile clinic. A tumour as big as a fist a rescued dog was suffering from was removed successfully. The surgery went very well and the dog is doing better according to the circumstances. The next couple of days he will stay in our logistics camp in Zvecka being watched over by our vets. 


Back to happy owner

With the support of our Serbian volunteers and the micro chip number we have been able to find the owners of many rescued animals. Although this has become routine for us, each delivery is very touching. Yesterday, we were very lucky about giving back a black and white dog whom we rescued a week ago to his overwhelmed owner.

Update, 2014-06-03 - Food supply for Bosnia and Croatia 


We are now focussing on treating the parasites and diarrhoea from which countless animals are suffering. Each day, more than 50 animals are supplied with medicine in our mobile veterinary clinic. Today, we even performed a significant surgery, removing a tumour from an animal. Those animals who cannot come to our mobile clinic are provided with medical treatment by our vets, on site.

Some animals are caught on rooftops or balconies and need help urgently.
© FOUR PAWS | Elisabeth Blum

Food transports to Bosnia and Croatia 

Today, we received more than 20 tons of food for farm animals and more than 5 tons of dog and cat food, which we then distributed to people affected by the floods. Our rescue team has been travelling by foot and rubber boat in order to free animals from roofs and balconies. In order to provide food for animals in Bosnia and Croatia, a FOUR PAWS team organized efforts in the border zone, arranging food transports to those regions, which have also been severely affected by the floods.

Update, 2014-05-29 - 2014-06-02 - People in Obrenovac still without water supply


Last weekend residents were granted free access to Obrenovac. The town is now  full of people who have returned to their properties to check on the damage  and to start to clean up. Since the weekend, electricity and drainage have been restored. But there is still no water supply in the region of Obrenovac. Many families will not return to their properties now due to the damage caused by  the floods so animals have not only lost their homes but  also their families. Our team  is endeavouring to find new homes for these animals.

Sometimes human ladders and provisional solutions are necessary to safe a dog from a balcony.
© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

Especially many farm animals are suffering from diarrhoea which has to be treated immediately.
© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

Danger of epidemic remains high 

However, there are still areas which remain flooded almost two weeks after the floods started. In the meanwhile the danger of an epidemic remains high in all affected areas. Our FOUR PAWS disaster relief team is still required to provide medical treatment  to  animals via our mobile clinics as well as distributing food supplies to people with animals in need. Many of them are suffering from diarrhoea caused by drinking polluted water. The run on our logistics camp remains high. Each day huge amounts of food for animals in need are distributed to farmers. 


A long experience in disaster relief missions

“Saving animals, helping people!” – this is the motto of FOUR PAWS Disaster Relief. In every relief operation, the priority is to look after the farm animals, evacuate farm- and companion animals, and to prevent any spread of disease.

Sebastian with one of the dogs rescued.
© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

Update, 2014-05-28 - A team member speaks of his experiences


Many people affected by the severe floods in the Balkans have had to leave their pets behind when they were evacuated. Sebastian Jagschitz, who was a member of the  FOUR PAWS disaster relief team spoke of his experiences:


People had to leave their houses and flats very fast, while some were able to leave food for their pets, others had to leave immediately.  The Four Paws disaster relief team made daily trips out on small rubber boats to rescue the animals left behind. Sometimes we received information about the animals whereabouts or were asked to save them by their owners  but usually we had no information and could only find the animals due to their barking or howling.  Some of our rescue missions were very challenging; often we had to climb into houses through windows and balconies. Most of the animals we found were scared and trembling and in urgent need of rescue. We took them immediately to our vets who gave them medical treatment, we also fed and gave them water. We then set about the task of trying to find their owners. The most memorable  moments for us were when we succeeded, you can then see  just how important the animals are to the people and how lucky they are to be reunited given the circumstances.

Update, 2014-05-27 - The run on our mobile clinic is still very high 


After many animals have died in the floods, the risk of diseases is rising due to the quite high temperatures here. Our experienced FOUR PAWS disaster relief team was asked by the Serbian government for their expertise concerning disease prevention.

In our mobile clinic surgery can be done as well.
© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

Run on our mobile clinic quite high

Moreover, the run on our mobile clinic in Zvecka remains high. Our vets are busy with providing medicine for wounded or ill animals, vaccinating against rabies, or deworming. Affected people come from far away to see our vets, to provide the best care for their farm and companion animals.


Our rescue team is on duty providing food and fresh water for animals that cannot be taken to our clinic. Due to polluted water many animals are suffering from diarrhoea, which has to be treated immediately to stop further infections.

Update, 2014-05-26 - Our help is needed here 


FOUR PAWS is still the only animal welfare organisation working in the restricted areas. Countless farms remain flooded and many owners are not allowed to enter their farms or homes. Over the last couple of days we learn’t many people affected by the floods had to leave their homes in such a hurry and weren’t able to provide enough food or fresh water for their animals before they left. Many people are still not allowed to return to their farms. That’s why our help is urgently needed.

Our FOUR PAWS vets take care of exhausted cows on a farm in Obrenovac.
© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

This calf and its mother were lucky. The FOUR PAWS disaster relief team provided food for them.
© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

Yesterday, we visited a large farm where several animals died in the floods. Those which survived have had to suffer without any food or fresh water. We have provided medicine and food for these animals and will look after them over the next few days.


20 tons food supply for animals in need 

Today we received another 20 tons of food for farm and companion animals, we are going to distribute this food to people with animals in need. We also received a donation of 1.2 tons of dog and cat food from the veterinary faculty of the University of Belgrade as well as anti-rabies vaccines which we‘re going to use in our mobile clinic. We continue to care for animals in need through our mobile clinic.

Saving animals, helping people

“Saving animals, helping people!” – this is the motto of FOUR PAWS Disaster Relief. In every relief operation, the priority is to look after the farm animals, evacuate farm- and companion animals, and to prevent any spread of disease.


Humanitarian relief is most obviously provided by helping farm animals, as they represent the livelihood of a large proportion of the rural population. In a crisis, people are no longer able to care for their animals, and in Serbia over 600 people have already come to FOUR PAWS for food supplies. At the same time, the medical treatment provided by FOUR PAWS is vital for the prevention of epidemics.


However, helping companion animals is also a way to help people. Heli Dungler, founder and head of FOUR PAWS, is himself a qualified crisis and disaster manager. “Every evacuation situation shows us that people do not want to be separated from their companion animals. If they have to leave them behind, like right now in Serbia, it breaks their hearts. When our team – the only animal welfare organisation allowed into the evacuation zone – is able to return their dogs to them, that’s a moment of happiness for them at this difficult time.” 


Heli Dungler has taken part in many FOUR PAWS relief operations, and knows how tricky such missions are: “Operating in disaster areas is of course always incredibly challenging for us. It’s crucial to set up the necessary structures as quickly as possible, and to optimise the logistics. It’s always a race against time, and extremely physically demanding for ops teams, as they have to work almost round the clock. Of course the emotional stress is heavy too, as along with the animal suffering, one is also constantly exposed to human misery: the grief of people who have often lost everything.”

Update, 2014-05-25 - Additionally 20 tonnes of food for animals in need 


Early today a large crowd of people were already  waiting for our team, so that they could stock up on some provisions for their animals. Because the flood of people was larger than ever before, the local police had to step in to regulate access to our food distribution point. We are also being energetically supported by Serbian volunteers, who are helping us communicate.


Supported by the Serbian military 

As our work is so urgently needed here, and as so many farmers are still having to rely on our food rations, the Serbian military has agreed to help us over the next few days with unloading and distribution. Yesterday our logistics team was mainly busy in camp with unloading over 20 tons of food for farm animals and pets (cattle and sheep, pigs, chickens, dogs and cats), then sharing it out among the needy farmers from the surrounding area. Over 400 people have registered with us to pick up food for their suffering animals.

Each day more than 20 tons of food for farm and companion animals are provided.
© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

 Our rescue team was also on duty all day yesterday and today with inflatable dinghies, supplying food and medical treatment to farm animals and pets trapped in their stalls and barns. 

The work is physically and emotionally very hard for us. However, with every animal we are able to rescue or care for, we gather new strength for more tough days here in the Balkans.

Update, 2014-05-24 - Our help is being received very well


As expected, our camp also received a flood of affected people, which hasn’t stopped since yesterday. Today alone, we’ve provided 25 tonnes of food rations for companion and farm animals in distress in areas that are cut off. One farmer was desperate when he came to us: he has more than 1,500 chickens in a barn, urgently needing food.

Each day food for farm and companion animals is supplied.
© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

Still, we are rescuing farm and companion animals from houses, rooftops and balconies.
© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

Animals are part of the family

Over the last few days our team has learned just how important people’s animals are to them here. For many, the animals are more than just their source of income; they are part of the family.  


Further information about our mission to come tomorrow!

Update, 2014-05-23 – FOUR PAWS returns rescued dogs to their owners


We have had a successful start to the day: We were able to rescue some dogs from the restricted and still flooded area, treat them medically and return them to their owners. Because of their bad experience, the dogs are very scared, same traumatised, and emaciated due to many days without food. Nevertheless, they are rather well given to the circumstances and have already be returned to their owners. Those are very special moments for our team, when the overwhelmed owners can clasp their animals in their arms again. Such beautiful moments motivate us to do everything in our power to help the animals, but also the people on site.

Animals realize if they are receiving help. This lucky dog was rescued from a house.
© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

The run on our food distribution is very high and sometimes hard to handle.
© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

More than 300 registrations in 1 day

Yesterday alone, more than 300 affected citizens of the region came to our logistics centre in Zvecka to get food rations for their animals: Yesterday we already distributed 40 cubic metres of animal food to the people of Obrenovac. Today we distributed 5.000 additional hay bales.


We will keep you updated!

Update, 2014-05-22  – FOUR PAWS disaster relief team on site in Zvecka


Since yesterday evening our team, accompanied by two employees of the local Ministry of Agriculture and volunteers from Serbia, have been in the crises area Obrenovac that has been severely affected by the floods. Just 4 km off Obrenovac, in the village Zvecka, we have set up a logistics base with a mobile clinic to quickly provide medical care for wounded animals.

Rubber boats are often the only transport in the flooded regions.
© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

Smaller teams for efficient work 

To work more effectively our team has been separated into 4 sub-teams: The first team is working in the mobile clinic to provide medical care for farm and companion animals that were rescued from farms. Another two teams are in the field to evacuate and rescue animals from their unfortunate situation and take them to our shelter in Zvecka. The feeding team is distributing hay to people with animals in need. Moreover, our logistics team is coordinating the supply of food and medicine to the region.

Especially hay is needed urgently here in Obrenovac.
© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

Food supply for animals trapped 

Our team is supporting local people affected by the floods, providing food and medical supplies. So far more than 170 people have registered at our logistics base. Most of them have from 3 to 60 animals (including poultry). Many who have been able to rescue their animals on their own are in urgent need of food. Some of those animals are temporarily sheltered in our evacuation site or kept in elevated spots (i.e. first floor of the house).

Many companion animals temporary sheltered in our camp hope for their owners to return.
© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

50 to 70 square kilometres flooded 

The situation in Obrenovac and surrounding is severe and 50 to 70 square kilometres are still flooded. The Serbian ministry indicated that they have collected and destroyed more than 80 tons of carcasses already. Yesterday alone, more than 60 people called to get permission to enter the flooded area to rescue their animals. In the surrounding of Obrenovac more than 40,000 pigs, 10,000 larger animals (horses, cows) and more than 10,000 goats and sheep were affected by the floods. Numbers on companion animals (dogs, cats or strays) cannot be confirmed.

Sometimes only treetops are visible in the flooded regions.
© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

Large farms with high number of animals affected 

Our FOUR PAWS disaster relief team is now in cooperation with the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine in Belgrade who has a team of 10 vets at the place. The vets are supporting our mobile clinics and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine has ordered a truck with food and medical supply from Belgrade that we are allowed to distribute. Most people living in the flooded area around Obrenovac are in urgent need of food for their pigs and sheep. In addition to the hay we have already been distributing we are providing special food for pigs and sheep as well as dog food. There is no electricity in the affected region and all local distributors are closed.

Shyly this skinny dog is approaching. Hunger is bigger than his shyness.
© FOUR PAWS | Mihai Vasile

Since yesterday the team has rescued several dogs and poultry and has been feeding countless animals.


We have gathered information about a farm where about 90 cows are caught in their stables without food and fresh water. Our team will do its utmost to rescue them. Another rescue team just came back from a area where 30 dogs are stranded on an elevated spot surrounded by water. We are providing food for them and may try to catch the anxious dogs.


We’ll of course keep you updated on further news!

Update 2014-05-21 - FOUR PAWS disaster relief team is on site


The FOUR PAWS disaster relief team has begun its response mission, supporting the Serbian crises team. FOUR PAWS has already provided food, medical care and rubber boats to Serbia, in an effort to quickly reach the severely affected flood regions.


At the moment, the FOUR PAWS’ team, in conjunction with two Serbian volunteers, is on site in the flooded city of Obrenovac, nearly 25 miles from Belgrade, where thousands of farm animals (pigs, goats, sheep), as well companion animals (dogs, cats and strays), have been eagerly waiting to be rescued. Until now, the animals have all been left to fend for themselves. The initial step for the FOUR PAWS team includes the provision of more than 140 cubic feet of hay to the affected areas.

FOUR PAWS is an international animal welfare organization. Therefore, our Romanian colleagues are on their way to Obrenovac too.
© FOUR PAWS | Andrea Berg

Rubber boats are prepared for their first use.
© FOUR PAWS | Elisabeth Blum

Medical checks on companion animals 

Shortly upon arrival, the FOUR PAWS team visited one of Serbia’s evacuation sites in an effort to check on the health conditions of the companion animals (dogs, cats and strays) who were being temporarily housed there. The team immediately provided the animals with food and clean water. The health of the animals will continue to be monitored daily by local veterinarians.

Focus on farm and companion animals left alone

In the next couple of days, the FOUR PAWS disaster relief team will provide medical support and food for thousands of farm animals. While the rubber boats that FOUR PAWS organized, have already been strategized to reach those areas still flooded, the FOUR PAWS team is assessing additional ways to evacuate and shelter animals temporarily.


We’ll keep you updated with further information.

Floods disaster in the Balkans: FOUR PAWS disaster relief team on its way to Serbia

The devastating floods in Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia have caused dozens of dead or missing people and tens of thousand of people loosing their whole existence, but also countless animals suffer from the floods. In the light of all these facts, FOUR PAWS has sent two disaster relief teams to Serbia consisting of experienced vets and logisticians. The international welfare organisation was asked for support officially by the Serbian government and is now the first animal welfare organisation on site.

Our FOUR PAWS disaster relief team is preparing for the mission in the Balkans.

First care for farm animals

The catastrophic floods have destroyed nearly everything in the Balkans. Tens of thousand people have lost their homes and many farms were destroyed completely. But also innumerable  animals have lost their lives in the disaster of were left to their own devices due to evacuation of their owners. Therefore priority is first care for injured and abandoned farm animals.  Dr. Amir Khalil, Lead Disaster Relief at FOUR PAWS, coordinates the 15-person mission team in the Balkans: “Our first priority is first care for farm animals. Many people have lost their homes and farms, some were completely destroyed. In such a situation people don’t have any resources to support their animals. Our  relief mission has a dual purpose as we are helping animals and humans at the same time.”

The experienced disaster relief team knows what's essential for the mission.

Operation centre in Belgrade

FOUR PAWS will concentrate on the two destroyed cities of Obrenovac and Bravec. The 20.000 inhabitants of the city Obrenovac  were affected severely as 80% of the city was flooded. Whole flocks of sheep were carried away by the floods and many other animals are still stuck in the mud and will not manage to escape without human help. To support the two disaster relief teams at their operating places optimally FOUR PAWS has set up an operation centre in Belgrade to organise food and medical supplies. The veterinarians on site will treat injured farm animals medically, distribute food and also bring smaller companion animals, such as dogs or strays, to emergency facilities. For this purpose, FOUR PAWS has organised boats to be able to provide fast and efficient help for regions still flooded.

Food supplies to Bosnia

Bosnia has also been severely hit by the devastating floods. However, the situation on site is too dangerous for the disaster relief teams as the floods loosened land mines and increased the danger of explosions. At the moment a relief mission is to dangerous, but FOUR PAWS will initiate the immediate transport of food supplies to Bosnia.

Just a few more steps and our team is ready for departure.

Experienced disaster relief team

The experienced team around Amir Khalil has been providing active disaster relief for animals for many years now and has already been to various disaster areas, for example after the Tsunami in Sri Lanka, the catastrophic drought in the region of Samburu/Kenya, the floods in Pakistan as well as the last mission after the typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. When a natural disaster strikes, a few days can make all the difference between life and death. Our rescue team provides quick and direct support – rescuing and evacuating animals, providing medical treatment and vaccinations, distributing feed and building emergency shelters. On site we cooperate closely with local aid agencies, supporting all people involved with our expert knowledge.