The stars hang expectantly above the
summer meadow on Gledic Mountain in Serbia, a place that is about to
become the cradle of recovery for 25 wolves aching for freedom. The
wolves are living in small household nooks, a basement and backyard pens
which have been salvaged by their rescuer Dejan Gacic, a man who would
lay down his life for any animal in need.
Caring for all the dogs and wolves is a monumental daily task.
Dejan began as a dog rescuer. Working alongside his mother Svetlana,
he saved nearly 300 dogs who had been in dire need on the streets of
Serbia. The dogs were housed at a home-based sanctuary and at a second
sanctuary on the grounds of his deceased grandfather’s home.
Daily care of the dogs was a team effort, but when Svetlana died
quite unexpectedly during routine surgery, Dejan was suddenly alone in
caring for the dogs. At the same time, local residents who had heard of
his heroic efforts for the dogs began to ask if he might help with a
wolf who had been in captivity for quite some time and the “owner” was
about to release her to a canned hunt.
This is Dejan's mother Svetlana. She started the family legacy of rescue many years ago
Dejan thought to himself, “What would my mother do?” and then he did
the only thing he could. He leapt in with both feet. He purchased the
wolf from the man for a single bottle of liquor.
“They usually call and tell me to come and take the wolf or it will
be killed,” Dejan explains of the many times he has been granted
permission to rescue a ‘defective’ wolf who simply won’t bring in a
premium price when released from his cage and sent running into the
woods to be chased by hunters. “I just have no strength to watch them
suffer and I have no power to stop it. I never met a hunter who feels
sorry for the wolves or for any other animals.”
The wolves would be doomed without Dejan's intervention.
Over the last three years, more than two dozen wolves have made their
way into Dejan’s custody. And though he didn’t have a solid plan on
what to do with them, Dejan couldn’t stand to see the wolves come to a
terrible end. More times than he can count, he has simply hung his head
and walked through a group of amused spectators who can’t fathom why on
earth this man has arrived to save some “dumb” wolf.
“I’m going early in the morning at 4 am to see injured wolves,” Dejan
told us recently. “I am going with my uncle and a vet will come with
us. God knows what we will find there. I’m very worried. The last
information I have from 2 hours ago is that both injured wolves are
still alive and have a chance to survive.”
A pair of muddy pups, discarded by their former "guardian", are now counting on Dejan for food.
“Without you all these animals would be lost,” Dejan told the Harmony
Fund last year after receiving his first round of emergency funding to
feed both the dogs and the wolves. “To live a hundred lives would not be
long enough to thank you. I wish that my mother was alive to see all
this. My animals just had their first proper meals after a long, long
Wolves Could Soon Be Roaming Mountain Sanctuary
Over the past year, the Harmony Fund has provided monthly supplies of
food and veterinary care for all of the animals and relocated the dogs
to a single location. After a series of inquiries and applications at
the government level, they are now poised to begin getting the wolves out of their cages and into the mountain air by October.
The wolves could soon enjoy a natural habitat and live in packs.
Though it will not be possible to completely release the wolves, the
animals will have a “soft” release in which they will be grouped in
packs and set free on large, fenced enclosures. Land is already secured
and the municipality is offering use of some of their heavy machinery.
The charity would like to begin construction in late August and is
scampering to pull together funds for all the materials to create the
wolves’ new home. To get involved, click here.