Sigmund Freud once said, “Time spent with cats is never wasted.” Old Ziggy was undoubtedly right, and we dare say the same goes for dogs and other beloved animal friends. Since our very first day at the office, we have welcomed all our employees’ pets because we know how lonely they get staying at home, and how worried our colleagues feel about being apart.

For the same reason, we understood how important it is to have one central place for all information on lost and found pets in Croatia, and this is how and why we started working with the NGO SUZA on creating Suzin oglasnik, a directory for information on lost animals. But, of course, none of it would be possible without its founder, Mrs. Jadranka, whom we invited to share her story!

1. Can you tell us how SUZA began and grew into what it is today?

SUZA is a federation of animal protection associations that started as an NGO in 2004. Straight away, we began two big projects with our member associations: “The pet info center” and “The emergency service for injured animals”.

For 11 years, we received call after call about lost, found, wounded, neglected, or abused pets. Even the largest animal welfare charity in the UK recognized our efforts and donated a vehicle for our pet emergency service. 

The projects grew in Zagreb and other cities all over (and beyond) Croatia, especially during tourist season, when people came to us for help after losing a pet on vacation (or finding one). Our activities are unique in our region, so for better or for worse, we had quite the results regarding incoming calls and solved cases. This goes especially for injured, neglected, and abused animals.

2. And how and why did you start the SUZA directory (Suzin oglasnik)?

Well, our funding got cut in 2017, which meant we had to shut down almost all our projects. Since we continued getting regular updates from people about lost and found pets and were still eager to help them, we had the idea of making a sort of directory where we could post this information and make it visible. However, our finances made it impossible to realize the idea, and that’s where Undabot and Trikoder came into the picture! Together we managed to set up the unique “Suzin oglasnik” website. And when I say unique, I really mean it — it’s the only directory in Croatia dedicated to just animals and their welfare.

3. What were the biggest challenges in the beginning?

Although we were well-known among citizens even before Suzin oglasnik, it took a while for owners and finders of lost pets to understand how essential it is to have all information about a lost animal in just one place. With the rise of social media and different Facebook groups, it became increasingly difficult to gather information because it was posted in various places, and piecing it together was no piece of cake.

4. And what about now? What are some of the challenges you currently face?

One of our biggest challenges is funding — our budget consists entirely of individual donations provided by legal or natural persons. Also, we want to improve the existing directory and make it more valuable and transparent by upgrading the statistical aspects of the database, e.g., filtering by species and a count system for all the lost and found animals.

5. How did Undabot get involved?

As I said, we had a great idea, but we couldn’t make it happen without a software company like Undabot. This is a demanding project with a hefty price for an NGO that funds itself only through donations, so we wouldn’t have nearly enough money for it. And I’m happy we’re currently working together on solving issues and improving the site so it works even better!

6. What rescued animal story do you remember most?

What sticks out most to me is the story of a kitten that got lost in Zagreb, then a year and a half later her owner recognized her on Suzin oglasnik when a lady posted about a cat wandering into her yard in Samobor. That’s the kind of story that proves that you should never give up on finding lost pets because some of them can return home even after a few years. 

Also, this is a prime example of how helpful it is to have all information regarding lost animals in one place — only that way can we put bits and pieces together and help pets find their way home.

7. What are your plans for the future?

We have heaps of ideas for new projects, but unfortunately, not enough money to go through with them all. Our biggest wish for the nearest future is to set up a nationwide call center that would receive calls 0-24 regarding lost, found, abused, or wounded animals.

The center’s employees would automatically relay the info to institutions responsible for solving such issues, which would greatly help our local government units, currently unable to implement existing legislation. The call center would also employ people with disabilities, serving a double purpose for the benefit of society.

8. One final message to conclude our little interview?

Only that I hope we collaborate with Undabot once again. Here’s to working together on further projects!

If this story inspired you to donate your time or money, paws what you’re doing and feel free to contact us, the SUZA association, or donate directly to their bank account: HR8623600001101697565. A little goes a long way, and we know that many pets and owners will be grateful for your contribution. ❤️