23 August 2022

I have been translating newsletters and flyers for Vets in Action into Italian for several years now. Each time, besides being moved by the stories of these poor animals, I wondered what it was like in the famous Donkey Valley in Bulgaria and the Rescue Centre in Serres, Greece. I also wondered who the people might be I often see on the photographs.


In May, I had the privilege and honour to meet in person these extraordinary human beings who care for and save animals in distress. I met the Bulgarian vets Konstantin and Mario who, without fear of hardship and danger, save street animals daily. I was able to see Ismail, who takes care of the donkeys, at work. He cuts hooves that are too long and files their teeth. Not an easy job, as I could see, also because the donkeys do not immediately understand that you are doing it for their own sake and so they are sometimes a bit nervous and even frightened. I was able to witness the transport of Marko, a still quite young and healthy donkey, to the Donkey Valley. Marko's elderly owner can no longer walk without crutches and, therefore, can no longer work. So, he decided to grant his donkey, which has been with him since he was a puppy, its freedom. The man cried and I couldn't help but hug him.


The Donkey Valley is a paradise on earth. Amidst the lush, bewitchingly green vegetation, there are several pastures where the donkeys live free and together. The very old ones have a separate pasture. When a new donkey arrives, it stays in a separate pen for a few days, where its health is examined. It is a pity that the founder of Vets in Action did not have the opportunity to see his project fulfilled. He is probably now looking after the animals in heaven....


Another day I was accompanied to the Animal Rescue Centre in Serres, Greece, where the tireless Zoi and her collaborator Sakis are active. I visited the Centre and got to know its guests; between dogs and cats, I would have adopted them all! I was also able to attend an outing to fetch some mother dogs with their puppies, which were unfortunately suffering from parvovirus. A little one died on the spot despite our rescue attempts. It is touching to see how these wonderful people have no timetables or holidays, but make themselves available to suffering animals every day, without fear of hardship or danger.

I was welcomed with open arms and much affection; I felt being part of something big and I am grateful to life for letting me meet the Vets in Action.

Sandra Caola