ARK News

Follow-up on the Bulgarian Circus Family

December 1, 2007

The Bulgarian Circus Family on air!

Thanks to MBS-san of 「VOICE」 (Kansai only) a follow-up on the story of the Bulgarian circus family is being aired.

Date: 28 December
Part 1 16:30~17:25
Part 2 17:51~18:30

ARK Director, Elizabeth Oliver went to visit the Valoskova family in person on her way to attending an ICAWC conference in Slovenia. The family gave ARK a warm welcome and thanked Japan for all their support and help in getting them and their animals back to Bulgaria. We wish them all the best.

Article from Newsletter 64

At the end of last year a Bulgarian circus family was left stranded in Kawachi-Nagano city. The owner of the circus company disappeared and the PR company refused to pay back salaries and the repatriation of their dogs and cats to Bulgaria. Thanks for MBS featuring their plight on its news programme ‘VOICE’, we were able to raise money to help them.

They returned safely to Bulgaria together with their 38 cats and 6 dogs but because of the delays in leaving Japan, they were unable to find work for 2006. To compensate for their loss of income and to enable them to have a permanent home, we sent half of the money raised by generous Kansai people, to them. In October, after the conference in Slovenia, Elizabeth Oliver and Asuka Hirata were able to visit them in their new home. They have bought an old house, which they are gradually renovating, in a typical Bulgarian village about 20 kms outside of Sophia. Most homes in the village are small holdings where people keep goats, chickens, pigs and horses, cultivate vegetables, fruit and food for the animals.

While the Valoskova family’s situation has improved, conditions in Bulgaria are pretty grim. Since the fall of communism 15 years ago, the social fabric has disintergrated. Nobody in Sophia keeps the parks tidy, nor bothers about the piles of uncollected rubbish in the streets. In the countryside there are many empty farm buildings and uncultivated fields. From the moment you land at the airport, there are street dogs everywhere. It is estimated there are maybe 70,000 street dogs in Sophia alone. These dogs are mostly friendly and well-fed as they tend to hang around certain neighborhoods where they know people will feed them. Some people build simple kennels for them beside apartment blocks.

The Federation of Welfare for Street Dogs FWSD was founded in 1997 by British expats. It promotes TNR for controlling the population of street dogs. More recently other groups have been formed, notable the Assocation of Friends for Animals AFA, which has “Flying Squads” which go around neutering , vaccinating and deworming street dogs and cats in neighbourhoods where they have carers. The animals are also issued with health certificated, like a passport.

With Bulgaria’s impending entry into the EU in 2007, the National Assembly of the Republic of Bulgaria is finally considering the adoption of the first Animal Protection Bill and all the animal protection groups are lobbying for this, both in Bulgaria and overseas.

In the past, efforts and money spent on neutering street dogs were often nullifies when the authorities carried out programs of mass killings, We need to find a positive and safe way to use the funds raised in Japan, for Bulgarian animals. But having talked to many people with experience in Bulgaria and and having witnessed the situation first hand, we feel it is wise to wait until Bulgaria enters the EU to see how organizations there are faring and what their needs really are.

The Valoska family performing in Japan