July 3, 2006
Lega Pro Animale
When veterinarian Dorothea Friz moved to Southern Italy in 1983, she was looking to escape the cold weather of her native Germany. What she found were dogs and cats roaming the streets, most of them sick, feral and reproducing in high numbers.
While employed at a small veterinary clinic in Naples, Friz visited a "shelter" containing nearly 500 skinny, ailing dogs. The shelter's manager had been pocketing donation money and leaving the animals to starve and die of disease.
Shortly after that fateful visit, Friz decided to begin a shelter and organization of her own—one that would emphasize sterilization and population management. Her vision was something Italy desperately needed, and the beginning of Lega Pro Animale.
Friz convinced locals that sterilization was the best answer for controlling pet overpopulation. She showed that a sterilized animal is a happier animal, and that the benefits outweighed any superstitions people had about spaying and neutering.
Lega Pro Animale is now at the forefront of sterilization training in Europe. Veterinarians from all over come to train in the latest spay/neuter techniques, as well as to learn about educational programs that help the public understand the importance of sterilization and adequate veterinary care. Veterinarians from Turkey, Yugoslavia, Egypt, Syria and elsewhere have benefited from the workshops and classes.
Since 2001, HSI has supported Lega Pro Animale in these efforts.
Lega Pro Animale, however, continues to fight an uphill battle.
In 1991, Italy passed a law that included banning the euthanasia of all healthy animals. Though the law was intended to help, and supports free sterilization of street animals, it has also enabled profiteers.
A shelter may receive as much as €100 (about US$125) per animal per month for life, thus many shelters are run as money-making businesses, with little regard for the welfare of its animals. The law also does not require an emphasis on re-homing the animals, and many spend the rest of their lives in shelters. With euthanasia generally frowned upon, many injured and sick animals are left to needlessly suffer. The law was created with good intentions, but its implementation remains far from perfect.
Friz and her team continue their sterilization programs and training clinics, and take every opportunity to educate people about proper care of pets and the humane management of stray populations.
Lega Pro Animale joined 15 other organizations from around the world for HSI's first Spay Day event.
Friz has represented Lega Pro Animale at our Animal Care Expo every year since 2001. Lega Pro Animale became an HSI Animal Advocate in 2002.
Lega Pro Animale
Via M. Tommaso
I-81030 Castel Volturno (CE)