"Spasenie" Center for Free Veterinary Care

We help people to be humans!

Photo of Нина Марьина
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria and terms of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize and, based on its description, I am eligible to apply:

  • Yes, I’m eligible
  • Yes, I’m 18 years old or older

Should you be successful, please confirm your availability to attend:

  • Additional Skype interview(s) during the week of March 16-20th 2020
  • The Purina BetterwithPets Forum in Paris, on 3-4th of June 2020

Initiative's representative name

Kostina Olga

Initiative's representative date of birth


Initiative's representative gender

  • Woman

Headquarters location: country

  • Russia

Headquarters location: city

Velikiy Novgorod

Where are you making a difference?

Russia, Novgorod oblast and Leningrad oblast

Website or social media url(s)

https://www.bfspasenie.ru https://vk.com/fondspasenie https://vk.com/sterilme https://vk.com/spayfree https://www.instagram.com/fond_spasenie

Focus Areas

  • Revolutionizing veterinary care for pets

What is your current yearly budget for the initiative? If you are an idea stage, what early budget you would need to kick-off and run operations in your first year?

  • €10k - €50k

Organisation Type

  • nonprofit/NGO: an organisation that uses its resources to achieve a purpose outside of creating profit

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this project to succeed.

2008. I was walking to work and suddenly heard a heart-rending howl. At first I couldn’t even make out what kind of a sound it was. It turned out to be the moaning of a dog hit by a car. It was lying in a gutter beside the road, its paws were hurt, it lay in a puddle of blood. I had never before been in such a situation, and was at a complete loss how to act. It took a while before I found a taxi-driver who agreed to take the dog, and me along with it, to the vet clinic. I had to take upon myself all the expenses for the transportation and medical treatment of the animal. As I found out later, our region had no institution whatsoever where you could seek vet help for a stray or lost animal. So, the idea to create such a center was conceived

2. The problem: What problem are you helping to solve?

Our Сenter helps to solve the following problems: 1. The growing number of stray animals. The center provides free spaying / neutering of animals, both homeless and those who have owners, diminishes the number of unwanted puppies and kittens. As a result, we have fewer destitute animals going around in the streets. 2. Lack of access to high-quality veterinary help in a situation, when an animal becomes the victim of cruelty or a road accident.

3. Your solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

In order to solve the problems specified above, we set the following tasks: 1. To provide the Veterinary Center with quality up-to-date veterinary equipment for medical tests and proper diagnosis. 2. To provide the Veterinary Center with disposables and veterinary medicines. 3. To provide the Veterinary Center with qualified staff, which also implies advanced training and qualification improvement for veterinarians. 4. Trainings for volunteers and pet-owners on the subjects of proper animal care, first-aid in emergency situations, the basics of veterinary help. 5. Spreading of information on usefulness and necessity of animal spaying / neutering. 6. Collecting funds and donations, finding resources (volunteer work included) for providing free veterinary help for animal victims of human cruelty and negligence. 7. Organization of a vet hospital for sick and maimed animals, and for animals who need post-surgery recovery treatment. For the present moment we have everything necessary for sterilizing surgery tools, keeping and transportation of veterinary medicines, performing surgeries. The project engages 3 professional veterinarians on a regular basis.

4. Innovation: How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solve the problem?

In our Animal Health center we receive calls from people who have faced cruelty to animals and animals that have been injured in accidents. We also accept requests from volunteers who need help for animals whose fate they oversee. In addition to this, anyone can leave an electronic request for free sterilization. Such an approach helps us to monitor the position of animals in the region. All requests are processed by the manager depending on the need for urgent intervention of veterinarians. We register animals for an appointment with a veterinarian. In case of emergency doctors go to animals that need help or for sterilization operations.

5. How does your project harness the pet-human bond to help people develop important social competencies (For example: emotional intelligence, collaboration, empathy, resilience, inclusivity) and overcome serious societal issues (for example: violence, abuse, trauma, isolation, abandonment)?

Facing the situation when an animal needs help, a person does not know where to turn to. On the one hand, he feels the desire to help, on the other hand, he does not know how to do it correctly. Providing the person with the opportunity to contact specialists who will promptly provide assistance, we do not just help animals, we allow the person who applied to understand that he is not alone, that he can count on the help and support of specialists. This leads to the fact that the next time he will not pass by an animal in trouble, or an animal that regularly brings unclaimed offspring, which contributes to an increase in homeless animals. It is also a significant help for volunteers who can focus their efforts on caring for stray animals, finding owners for them, but not on collecting funds to pay for expensive veterinary services. We have carried our a survey of volunteers in the Novgorod region, according to which it turned out that 65% of respondents are engaged in sterilization of stray animals and searching for their owners, and 50% of volunteers believe that paying for veterinary services is the main financial problem they face helping homeless animals.

6. Impact: how has your project made a difference so far in terms of both business outputs and social impact? How do you plan on measuring progress?

At first the project started in Veliky Novgorod, but free services of the centre were also used by residents of the neighbouring regions as there were no such centres in Russia. Most of the visitors were volunteers who helped animals and those citizens who didn't have enough money for neutering their pets. Currently (since 2018) more than 2000 animals have been neutered and more than 500 dogs and cats have received free treatment from vets. The efficiency of the project can be mostly noticed in Veliky Novgorod as there has been more than 60% fewer reported instances of animals with their litter on the streets and 20% fewer reported accidents with animals. Other disctricts became involved in the project later but in some of them the number of calls has already decreased by 20-25%. Volunteers monitor the situation in specific places.

7. Growth strategies: what are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

In the future we're planning to expand the range of free services we offer so that in order to help animals one won't need to go to other clinics and pay for an ultrasound or something, what need to use special equipment, that the centre doesn't have. Also, our centre is contacted by volunteers from different regions of the country who want to organise similar centres in their cities. In the nearest future it is being planned to open branch centres in Leningrad region, Krasnodar region and Tver region.

8. Creating shared value: How does your initiative create value for different stakeholders?

Accessible vet services, social awareness of the benefits of spaying/neutering animals, a decrease in stray animals will affect people's quality of life, will cause a more responsible treatment of animals and will improve the epizootic situation in the region. Neutering of stray animals will significantly reduce the number of new stray cats and dogs on the streets. As a result, the number of unclaimed of pets thrown on the streets will also decrease. Besides, neutered dogs don't form packs and, as a result, aren't dangerous to residents, which will significantly relax the tension towards animals and reduce the number of incidents of cruelty towards them.

9. Financial sustainability plan: can you tell us about your plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

Our vet centre is financed by one-time donations from people and companies, regular donations from sponsors, government incentives and grants, and paid services provided for legal persons. Our vet centre receives donations for its work. More than 30% of expenses are covered by one-time and regular donations, more than 50% of costs are covered come according to the grant contract from the Fund of President grants, about 20% are covered by providing paid services.

10. Team: what is the current composition of your team (types of roles, qualifications, full-time vs. part-time, board members, etc.), and how do you plan to evolve the team’s composition as the project grows?

centre leader - Nina Marjina - part-time, accountant - part-time, 2 veterinarians - full-time, 1 higher-level certified veterinarian - part-time, 1 veterinarian in Malaya Vishera - part-time, 3 assistants - part-time, administrator - full-time, 2 volunteering pet nurse, 2 volunteering administrators in social networks, 10 volunteering coodrinators in districts.

11. How do you plan to influence your field of work if you are a winner of this edition of the Purina BetterwithPets Prize?

In case our project wins the prize, we will be able to improve the quality of vet services by buying additional equipment and providing additional educational courses to veterinarians. Also, we will be able to open new vet centres in neighbouring regions where we already have volunteering coordinators who are ready to start work. In the new centres we will be able to buy equipment, find specialists and provide additional educational courses for them.

12. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Word-of-mouth


Join the conversation:

Photo of Фонд Найда Боровичи

A very important project for the Russian regions. Due to lack of money, knowledge, responsibility, many provincial residents do not understand the importance of sterilizing animals. I really want the project to work throughout the Novgorod region and become a circulation for other regions.

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