Why we rescue

My project aims to create a good and positive information environment around the situation with homeless animals in Russia

Photo of Denis Savinov
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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

Denis Savinov

Initiative's representative date of birth


Initiative's representative gender

  • Man

Headquarters location: country

  • Russia

Headquarters location: city

Saint Petersburg

Where are you making a difference?

Saint Petersburg, Moscow

Website or social media url(s)


Focus Areas

  • Fostering emotional intelligence and behavioural competences
  • Re-imagining the role of pets in society
  • kindness and responsibility demonstration

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?

  • €1k - €10k

Organisation Type

  • civil society: a community of citizens linked by common interests

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.

For me, the subject of homeless animals is very personal. Four wonderful cats live in our family: Kuzma was taken from the veterinary clinic (left by former owners), sweet Suzanne - from the shelter, tricolor spotted Dusa was picked up from the street, and the noble Goga was found near the post office. Each of them has a different age and special character and we are happy that they appeared in our life. With time we started to go to shelters and saw how many homeless animals live there without a chance to survive. So my wife and I began to think about what we could do to make sure that as many animals as possible found a home and love. That's how the Why We Rescue Project started.

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

There are a lot of prejudices and bad news about the health and behaviour of animals from shelters in Russia. With this project we are creating a positive information environment around the situation with homeless animals and changing the attitude of people so they can stop being afraid and then start to help and take the animal from the shelter.

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

We believe that good examples can help people get rid of fears and doubts and also help them make the decision to take animals from the shelter to home. So we decided to publish personal stories. These stories about animals once abandoned and alone, but now loved and needed. About people who, like all of us, have their own problems and difficulties, but who cannot pass by. Stories about humanity and kindness.

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

I try to make every story to be very personal, so it feels like you've seen the story of your friend or acquaintance. I take pictures and record the pet owner's monologue about why he decided to take the animal from the shelter, what possible difficulties he faced and what he could advise people who are still afraid or doubtful. But the most important thing is that the owner talks about his love and how much happiness a dog or cat gives him, whether it's from the shelter or not. If you look at the shelter pages, you can only find the names of the people who adopted the animals. My unique method is that I turn these names into real people and tell their personal stories.

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)?

The project involves people of different professions and different social status. All of them have one thing in common - a sense of compassion and conscious attitude towards animals. One of the thoughts that the heroes of the stories often talk about is that not only do we rescue animals from shelters, but they also save us from heartlessness and indifference.

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?

It is difficult to assess the scope and impact of the project, but judging by the positive feedback from foundations, shelters and people, who once again drew attention to the problem of homeless animals in Russia and decided not to pass by - this project is important for our country.

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

At the moment the project is only presented on my personal website and is being distributed by social media (Instagram, Facebook). My plan is to expand the geography and shoot more important and good stories not only in St. Petersburg, but also in other cities of Russia. Besides that I want to create a standalone website for the project, start interacting with media and go offline - hold an interactive exhibitions in the Erarta Gallery (Saint Petersburg) and all over Russia to reach a new audience.

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

In 2019, "I AM FREE" foundation provided information support to the project and planned to hold an exhibition in Zaryadye Park, but due to personnel changes the schedule would have changed and been postponed indefinitely. Festivals and exhibitions of animals from shelters ask for the opportunity to show this project and I receive letters of gratitude from people who were inspired by some story and took the animal from the shelter to their homes. It means that the project is important and helps change people's minds for the better.

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?

At this time the project is completely non-commercial, it exists only because of our (my and my wife's) initiative and my own time and money invested. Our plan is to expand the geography of stories, work with opinion leaders, add video content and make the project bigger and more influential.

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?

Me and my wife Alena. I am a professional photographer so I take photos, record stories and maintaining website. My wife do the searching and interacts with social media.

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

We plan to continue telling personal and important stories but want to do this more effectively so people in Russia can one day say that taking animals from shelters is not heroic. It's a normal thing to do.

12. How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Social media


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Photo of Добро Вместе

Здравствуйте, Денис. Меня зовут Оля Журавлева, я директор краудфандинговой площадки помощи животным www.dobrovmeste.ru
Мне очень понравился ваш замечательный проект, голосую за! Надеюсь, нам удастся посотрудничать вместе, возможно создать совместную акцию или проект! Мой емейл olga@dobrovmeste.ru, пишите в любое время! Спасибо и удачи вам!

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