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From family refuge to key player


Founded in 2014, the association Sauvons nos Animaux was the 1st  animal association in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


That year, the animal defender Paterne Bushunju decided to create an association: Save our Animals ASBL was born.


The association is growing, several dozen animals have already been saved.

Everything accelerated in 2016 when Paterne Bushunju met Giancarlo Barbadoro and who opened the door to some European donors.


Very quickly, work is undertaken in order to be able to accommodate abandoned dogs there. In a few months, the first kennels were built and the association then had its own refuge for lost and abandoned animals.

Save Our Animals developed its shelter activity, building premises for dogs and cats and increasing the capacity to accommodate around a hundred animals.


Since 2020, Animal-Kind International has been supporting our shelter work. As an international partner organization of Animal-Kind International, we receive 100% of any donation you make through AKI that is designated to Save Our Animals! For US taxpayers, your donation will be tax deductible. AKI started the Shirlee Christensen Memorial Pet Food Fund to raise money to feed the animals in our shelter. You can designate this fund when you donate.

Testimony of Paterne Bushunju


In Bukavu I saw these stray dogs, dead or almost dead, who had been thrown into the ravines every day. And I saw young people knocking them down by throwing stones at them. One evening I saw a man kicking a puppy in the street, for no reason, the puppy cried out. I tried to stop it, but the person attacked me with a bladed weapon. I managed to go home with the puppy. My life kind of changed that day.

I realized that if I were to die somehow, my biggest regret would be not doing more to help animals. It's like I have no choice, it's a mandate for my soul. I've always loved dogs: I started adopting a few strays at home and since my parents couldn't stand an overpopulation of dogs at home anymore, I had to look for a place to shelter them.

But what is more important: until now it is to imagine what my life will be.

I don't know what it will look like, but for the moment I am responsible for a large refuge built by friends who have understood my struggle.

I do animal care, wash dogs, walk dogs, help rescue stray animals. I take care of the puppies to replace the mother they lost and give them love.

I tell anyone who hears about sterilization, that it is very important because there are thousands of homeless dogs in Bukavu and the population is constantly increasing. I do my best to achieve my goal. When I'm with the animals at the shelter, I feel like I can't go home anymore, there's so much work to do.

I want to help people connect with animals and understand the value of the animal as a living being and how they experience pain and joy like us and when I talk about the shelter and the dogs and cats we have, some people ask us if we have a Maltese, German Shepherd or some other breed, and I have to tell them that a great dog doesn't have to come from a fancy breeder or lineage. Amazing dogs are all around us, and at the end of the day, they all want love.

That's all I try to do: give a little more love to as many dogs and cats as possible and try to get others to do the same.

Paterne BUSHUNJU, Founder of Save Our Animals

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