Albania Animal Lovers: Erleta Shala and Lezha Municipality Team Up for Street Animals – Outing
Erleta Shala, Leta for short, is an animal activist mentioned in last month’s story, which deserves a longer blog post. Originally from Kosovo, Leta and her family moved to Switzerland as refugees, where she still lives. Since she was a child, her family has been spending their summer holidays in Durrës. Leta, always an animal lover, enjoyed spending her time with street animals on these trips.
About five years ago they bought a small apartment near the beach in Durrës. After working from home and in isolation during the COVID19 pandemic, she decided to move into the apartment for five weeks when travel restrictions were lifted. Towards the end of the stay, she received a call from her parents. They were stressed and told him to turn on the news. The title (“After Korça, stray dogs are also poisoned in Lezha”) and the images were incredibly moving. Leta knew there was a problem with street animals and humans in Albania, but she didn’t know that people in Albania were so cruel.
But Leta didn’t just cry. She sat down and wrote a long email to Lezha State and Municipality. She didn’t just hurl complaints and insults. “In this letter, I shared my story, my ideas and clearly communicated my desire for change.” With a full head and heart, she sent the email.
People told Leta to let it go. They told him: “The Albanian state will not help you; otherwise, they would have done something a long time ago. Their comments were understandable but Leta chose to stay positive and hopeful. “I was sure that with my love and positive energy, I had the power to convince Lezha Municipality to help street animals and support my project.”
Two days later, Leta received a response from the Municipality. They were nice to his email and they wanted to schedule a meeting. Leta was delighted.
She worked long nights to finalize a project for the meeting. The director, Elson Frroku, greeted her and introduced himself, then gave Leta time to discuss her plan. At the end, an employee said to Leta, “I haven’t seen the director so motivated in a long time – you filled the room with so much positivity. For the first time in my life, I feel that the state is really ready to do something for the animals!
“I never thought I would dare to take this step at such a young age,” Leta wrote to me. It was always a goal to do something for street animals. However, she saw it as a future pursuit (when she had enough money, time, etc.). But after the news, she realized that the animals needed her now, and she had all the skills to do something now, like we all do.
Its main objective is really very simple: to help as many animals as possible. In Albania, this means castration projects; a shelter in Lezha that offers vaccinations, sterilizations, adoptions, safety and love for animals; and educate people “because there is urgency because there is a lack of respect for animals”. Leta hopes to educate children and provide programs for seniors who need pets. She also wants to continue working with other animal rights activists in Albania. “I think we’re stronger together and I’ve met a lot of amazing humans over the past few months,” she said. “I am very lucky that the existing organizations in Albania like JETA Tier and Mensch Where animals need me accepted me with much love. I’m learning a lot from them right now.
Leta may be at the start of her journey, but her positivity, hope and belief that something can change has already impacted so many animals and humans.
To support, follow @lezhaanimalshelter