Maria Semina ‘05
Yekaterinburg, Russia/Westlake, LA
On June 7-9, 2013 I attended an interesting and educational event on the topic of animal welfare. More than twenty LFP and FLEX alumni participated in different discussions, project team work, lectures led by Russian and American experts. The event was held in a picturesque place in the Urals near Yekaterinburg city.
Kelly Coladarci, Program Manager from Humane Society International, was the guest speaker to the workshop. Kelly has a wide experience in working on animal welfare. During her professional experience, she has been to South Africa, Mexico, Haiti and other countries helping those countries to solve their problems of animal cruelty, stray animals, stopping disease spread and so on. Kelly introduced some of the best world practices on many aspects related to animal welfare.
For examples, these five freedoms (Freedom from Hunger and Thirst, Freedom from Discomfort, Freedom from Pain, Injury or, Disease, Freedom to Express Normal Behavior, Freedom from Fear and Distress) are already being used as main principles of how to treat animals in such countries as India, members of the European Union and etc. During the first day of the workshop, participants also examined the legislature on animal welfare from various countries and were able to compare it and find the best solutions.
Kelly introduced the most important organizations which deal with issues concerning animals, and some of them are: HSI, PETA, WSPA, Fabcats and so on. There were many issues discussed during the workshop such as bad sides of mass production and non-human conditions for animals, fur production and world trade of animals, animal cruelty and people’s crimes. Kelly also showed some documentary videos on these topics in order for the participants to better understand the reality and what was going on with the animal welfare.
Ekaterina Solomina, an LFP alumna ’12 and an expert on animal welfare in Russia, was also the workshop speaker. Ekaterina is now one of the curators of an animal shelter in Moscow and she’s a campaigner for animal rights in Russia. Ekaterina made a great presentation on what the situation on animal welfare in Russia is, and what we as citizens or pet owners can do to help solve the current problems. She also introduced some international organizations that have branches in our country as well as national organizations whose activities relate to animal welfare: VITA (vita.org.ru), IFAW (ifaw.org/russia) and others. As Ekaterina works with municipal, regional and national authorities on the issue of stray animals, she offered the participants to exercise in solving some issues by presenting team projects. One of the group work was to propose measures to alleviate companion animal related concerns. (Here are some pictures below of groups presenting their ideas).
The workshop was very productive and highly informative for the participants. To be honest, the subject of animal welfare is not widely spread among Russian people and there are a lot of stereotypes and misleading assumptions on it. As the participants say, they have found out lots of new and useful information and they have reconsidered a lot on animal related issues. Yuriy Nabutovskiy, workshop participant, notes: “The most interesting educative part of the workshop was to find out that there was actually some good formed system of the animal rights (thanks to Ekaterina Solomina for her informative presentation)”. Sergey Kostyaev agrees: I would say that the whole animal welfare issue was quite new for me. The most surprising thing I’ve learned is the necessity of sterilization for cats and dogs. Because if your pet is not sterilized than it causes many problems of overpopulation of the animals, the possibility of them becoming stray animals. And stray animals actually don’t have a lot of chances to survive in cities especially if they are kittens or puppies”. Yuriy adds: “I was also surprised to discover some new ideas. For examples, what actually giving your animal away to unprepared owners results in”.
Besides educative part, there was some time for networking where the participants not only got to know each other, shared knowledge and integrated but they also watched a documentary movie about Ekaterina’s animal shelter in Moscow and discussed animal welfare issues in Russia. Yuriy Nabutovskiy says: “I truly enjoyed face-to-face interactions with other participants when working in small groups and during the informal part of the workshop. By the way, it was a very beautiful place where the workshop was held, so I definitely felt great working”.
The animal welfare workshop lasted three days but it has become some new point for many participants. I believe that the effect of the workshop is much greater because it’s the participants who can now spread the information among their friends, colleagues, social network friends and etc. so that more people become better educated in animal issues and make more informed choices in their lives. As one of the participants on behalf of myself and others I would like to thank the organizers of the workshop – Carter Johnson (American Councils Country Director), Kristina Hayden (Public Affiars Officer at the Consulate General of the United State sin Yekaterinburg), Ekaterina Solomina (LFP alumns’12), Kelly Coladarci (Program Office with Humane Society International), Olga Ivanova (PFP Program Officer) and others) for this great event.