Latvia, Riga - Animal Protection Group, Astrida Karklina

Our Latvian friends continue to run two animal shelters successfully in Riga; the shelter run by Animal Protection Group in the part of Riga called Jugla, with room for 25 dogs. The other shelter is run by the council; with room for 40 dogs and 30-40 cats. The two shelters have been in use since 1999 and 2003. More than 1 800 dogs have been cared for and successfully rehomed during this time.

During this time our contact has been Astrida Karklina, who is in charge at the council shelter. The cooperation between her team and the council works very well and since March 2003 they receive money from the council for the spaying and neutering of stray cats. The cats are wormed and treated for various illnesses and then put back in their own environment. The campaign is called “catch, sterilize, release”. The citizens of Riga help by contacting Animal Protection Group and asking them to come and spay and neuter cats in their backyards. Sometimes they even pay the cost for vets.

Much effort is put into trying to change the laws concerning animal care in Latvia. New laws were founded in the year 2000 but they need to be revised continuously. For example you can not take an animal from someone, even if the animal is abused, because animals are still regarded as property. Animal Protection Group also put a lot of effort into educating the public in animal care issues; for example school classes are welcome to visit the shelter at Jugla for educational purposes.

It is now twelve years since Astrida and her colleagues started their work in Riga and all this time the sponsors from Baltic Animal Care have been involved. Every month the amount of 300 Latv (approximately 400 Swedish Crowns) is paid to Animal Protection Group – money much needed. Through our support large pens have been built, electricity have been installed, running water made available and the dog houses have been insulated. Incredibly much has happened during these years, and great progress has been achieved in order to make conditions better for animals.

Animal Protection Group has a good reputation both in Latvia and abroad. The organisation became a member of the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) in the year 2000 and also member of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) in 2003.

Some background information.

The first Latvian animal protection group we supported was Dzivnieku Draugs (member of Eurogroup for Animals). It was then we got to know Astrida and when she later established her own organisation Dzivnieku Patversme we chose to go with her, because of our close relationship with her and because we felt certain she would succeed in her efforts. Animal Protection Group is a part of LKF (Latvijas Kinologiska Federacijas), but works as an independent group.