In November 2017, Lusine and Sarah witnessed a school guard kicking a 6 week old puppy, now named Luna. Luna was screaming and couldn't walk, so Lusine and Sarah intervened and brought her home. With lots of love and plenty of TLC, Luna found her forever home thanks to one Facebook post and now lives happily with her family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Luna's horrible experience is what moved Dogs of Gyumri to be born. A GoFundMe page was started to feed stray dogs and slowly more puppies were brought in, treated, and adopted! Luna's experiences speak volumes to how poorly dogs are generally treated here in Gyumri. We unfortunately may not be able to save every single dog, but we will sure try to.
In terms of animal rights as a whole, there are absolutely none in Armenia. There are no laws to protect animals in general, and the cultural norms also hold no protection either. Abuse, neglect, and intolerance towards animals is normal and accepted by most people. Although purebred dogs are usually kept in the house, many people in Gyumri see strays as non-home animals and meant to be tied up as a guard dog at best. If not a guard dog, they are considered on a similar level to vermin by many. In Gyumri, stray dogs are legally shot as a form of "population control". Children are taught that stray dogs bite everyone and throwing rocks at strays is the only way to keep them away. One day, we hope a gradual cultural shift will happen towards the betterment of animals.
Our main goals as an organization are to advocate, educate, and promote animal welfare throughout this community. This will be done through educational classes for children and youth throughout Gyumri. We aim to change the way Gyumri performs animal "population control" by implementing a city wide trap, neuter, vaccinate, release (TNVR) plan.
Social enterprise is also very important to our organization as we hope to have local members of the community work and move forward our organization. Many exciting future plans are in the works... so stay tuned.
Adoptions will originally be focused on puppies as we hope to find forever homes to as many as we can. If our TNVR program is successful, hopefully one day we will not have any more stray puppies and can focus on adoptions for dogs of all ages.