By the end of 2021 Dutch organisation Angel’s Choice has been supporting rescuers of cats and dogs, mainly in North-Macedonia, for six years and eight months.
The year 2021 has a very big black border because Angel, the dog that gave her name to this organisation, died at the age of 13.5 years. She was my soulmate from the moment I took her from a Dutch public shelter and has been my joy and inspiration ever since. Her spirit will live on in the activities of Angel’s Choice.
Several cats and dogs that were mediated by Angel’s Choice in the past and adopted in The Netherlands, Belgium or Germany died. Some of old age, like Mona who was probably 18 years old, some of medical issues. We also lost too many cats and dogs that were rescued by the supported rescuers/organisations in North-Macedonia. Some shortly after being rescued, others several years after being rescued and still with the rescuer because they never had a family of their own for various reasons. The rescuers only take in the ill, wounded, handicapped, starved, dehydrated and helpless ones, because they do not have the space and facilities to take care of all strays they come across. All these animals knew love at the end of their lives and got the best medical care possible, but I can’t shake off the feeling that they would not have suffered if they had not been born. So once again neutering will remain top priority for the next year.
Other activities were focussed on fundraising, collecting donations, collecting necessities and shipping them to the rescuers, giving medical advice and networking. Also moral support is an important part of the job, because rescuing animals can be a very tough job: emotionally, financially and practically.
In 2021 Angel’s Choice has structurally supported the following rescue organisations:
– Angelcats Sanctuary, Skopje, North-Macedonia, run by Maja Popovska, mainly cats, supported since the beginning of 2015
– Dog Rescue Gastarovska, Skopje, North-Macedonia, run by Silvija Gastarovska, mainly handicapped dogs, supported since the beginning of 2015
– Masha’s friends, Skopje, North-Macedonia, run by Tatjana Atanasova, cats and dogs, supported since 2018
– Save the Stray Angels, Krushevo, North-Macedonia, run by Ruzhica Parsons, supported since 2018
And on a non structural basis:
– Kane Korze from Skopje, North-Macedonia
– Friend of Animals, Prilep area, North-Macedonia, dogs and cats, supported since March 2019 but in 2021 activities for Friend of Animals were mainly focussed on fundraising for neuterings
– Anima Mundi, project to prevent blindness in kittens, run by Melita Ivanova
– and some individual rescuers for individual dogs or cats.
Help for specific animals
The rescuers are responsible for the dogs and cats in their care and make decisions about their (medical) care and hopefully adoption. In some cases Angel’s Choice is involved because of specific medical issues. Then medical information or advice is given and if needed a fundraiser is made to raise money for (expensive) therapies or surgeries. In 2021 Angel’s Choice helped raise money for Rico (Save the Stray Angels) so he could be sent to Sofia, Bulgaria, for surgery to his leg that could not be done in North-Macedonia. The surgery was successful. Money was raised for several dogs from Friend of Animals to get surgery in Skopje. Money was raised for treatment of leishmania for several dogs at Save the Stray Angels. Money was donated for paralysed dog Candy rescued by Leonardo Sokolov to get Xrays, blood analysis and therapy. These are just a few examples.
With the help of people from The Netherlands and Belgium Angel’s Choice managed to collect almost 300 tubes of Terramycin, eye ointment for kittens with eye infection. When treated in time with Terramycin the eyesight of these kittens can be saved.
In 2021 504 cats were neutered thanks to the neutering project run by Angelcats Sanctuary in co-operation with several vets. These 504 cats included newly rescued cats by Angelcats Sanctuary (very limited number), stray cats (trapped, neutered and returned to their area), cats looked after by other rescuers in Skopje and other cities. The neuterings were paid for by donations from individual sponsors, coupons collected by Angel’s Choice and auctions organised by Angel’s Choice. 504 neuterings at 20 euro per neutering means 10,080 euro!
Angel’s Choice raised money for 57 neuterings of cats and 20 neuterings of dogs in the area of Prilep, co-ordinated by Friend of Animals. In total 3,755 euro.
Neutering stray cats and dogs is one way to reduce the number of stray animals and prevent animals suffering. Raising public awareness is another way. In the fall of 2021 Angelcats Sanctuary got a grant fort his from Civica Mobilitas. It is the first grant ever in North-Macedonia for the welfare of cats only! The title of the project is: ‘Through civil activism to systematic solutions for homeless cats’. This project – in addition to cooperation with other organisations – is intended to influence the authorities to take more systematic measures to prevent the problem of uncontrolled breeding of the stray cats. Civic activism as a very important tool for raising awareness among people who due to superstition and cultural mentality refuse to neuter pets, leading to uncontrolled growth in the number of stray animals. The proposal of Angelcats Sanctuary provides several creative suggestions on how organisations can further implement activities to raise awareness among citizens. This project will involve various stakeholders, including young people who are enthusiastic and committed to be the change in this society. The project incorporates several creative actions, which have not been implemented in North-Macedonia before and as such have the potential for impact. Finally, in addition to cooperating with other organisations, it is planned to influence the authorities to take more systematic measures to prevent this problem.
All rescuers need to raise funds to take care of the animals in their care and the animals they look after on the streets. Therefore one of the main tasks of Angel’s Choice is facilitating their fundraising and doing its own fundraising for food, medical treatment, supplements, neuterings and vaccinations. Some of the rescue organisations and Angel’s Choice itself have a small number of loyal supporters who donate a fixed amount each month. Some individual dogs and cats have sponsors of their own and their donations cover (part of) their medical and daily care.
Angel’s Choice received a percentage of proceeds from sales via sponsorkliks. Not a huge amount, but every euro counts.
Coupons from supermarkets collected by various individuals were also a source of income thanks to Kitty Maijer who knows how to turn these coupons into euro’s. This money is earmarked for the neutering project of Angelcats Sanctuary.
Once again 12 monthly auctions were organised with the help of Hans Toorneman and Monique Stavast. All items sold were donated by individual supporters from the Netherlands and Belgium. In total the 12 auctions raised just over 11,500 euro and the proceeds were used to pay vet bills, medication, supplements, special diet food and neuterings.
Shipping costs of sold items were sponsored once again by publishing company A3 boeken.
Various people in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany donated necessities to Angel’s Choice: deworming tablets, spot on anti-flea treatments, all kinds of medication, diapers, puppy training pads, blankets, towels, dog coats, collars, leashes, harnesses, vitamins and other supplements, snacks, toys, cages, baskets, carrier bags, bandages, gauzes, medical cones, food bowls, clothes for the rescuers and more.
In total 28 parcels of 20 kilo each were sent to the various rescuers and rescue organisations in North-Macedonia by mail (shipping sponsored by publishing company A3 boeken).
Also the already mentioned hundreds of tubes Terramycine were sent to Melita at Anima Mundi (Skopje) for the kitten project.
Items that could not be sent to North-Macedonia because of size, weight or contents were distributed amongst various private sanctuaries in Belgium and the Netherlands. In total 8 parcels of 20 kilo each.
Thanks to Ingrid van Herpen Zoetis donated test-kits and medication for Save the Stray Angels and Angelcats Sanctuary.
The main focus lies on the animals and giving them the care they need: medical care, food, vaccinations, etc. Living conditions and facilities are also important, but not priority number one unless the well-being is at stake. In 2021 money was raised for renovation of the yard at Dog Rescue Gastarovska to make it possible for the handicapped dogs to walk around in their wheel chairs safely. Also money was raised for a new washing machine, because the old one broke down and every day blankets and towels have to be washed to provide the dogs with clean beddings.
Also at Save the Stray Angels renovations had to be carried out in the house to provide proper housing for the dogs.
In the summer of 2021 Angel’s Choice was contacted by Dutch artist Barbara Meihuizen. Several years ago she found an abandoned kitten while on vacation in North-Macedonia and thanks to Angelcats Sanctuary (and a little help from Angel’s Choice) this kitten could travel to the Netherlands several months later. Now it was her turn to do something for the cats at Angelcats Sanctuary. She made a beautiful statue of a cat and 10 copies were going to be cast in bronze. All ten buyers were asked to donate a fixed amount to Angelcats Sanctuary. Maja was asked to make a wish list and to be honest, it was shocking. Imagine her being without proper heating in the apartment, no washing machine, no vacuum cleaner, no fridge, no freezer. The old wooden floor had so many crevices and holes that she could not keep it clean very well. Linoleum was needed in all rooms. The walls needed desinfecting and a fresh coat of paint. The balcony and terrace needed better fencing. By the end of 2021 all statues were sold and a lot of renovation was done, many appliances bought. This would never have been possible on her salary, which is hardly enough to pay the rent and electricity. The fridge itself costs more than one month salary. So this was a very positive and happy project in an otherwise very grim year.
Angel’s Choice (founded and run by Adrie Beyen) wants to express its gratitude to all rescuers who spend a huge part of their lives for the well-being of animals in their living area. Rescuing animals is not something you do for just one hour every day. It is a way of living and all the rescuers who are supported by Angel’s Choice are fully committed and at the service of all those precious souls who suffer a lot at the hands of ‘humans’.
All the activities and support mentioned in this report were possible thanks to many people who have contributed in various ways, e.g. by donating money, sponsoring individual animals, donating necessities, donating items for the auctions, collecting coupons, sharing ideas and expertise.
Thank you to all from the bottom of our hearts and on behalf of all the animals who were lucky enough to be rescued.