FOUR PAWS rescues Masha in secret mission
In a secret mission a FOUR PAWS rescue team freed Masha, a brown bear used in cruel bear baiting competitions. The five-year old female was then transferred to the FOUR PAWS bear rescue centre Nadiya in Zhytomyr.
Masha’s ordeal is finally over. After grueling negotiations we managed to convince her abusive owner to hand her over to us. She was living in the grounds of a dog training area. Her owner acquired her illegally from animal dealers and for years, used her to train hunting dogs. In these training sessions, Masha would be chained up, defenseless and weakened by a lack of food and water. Aggressive hunting dogs would be let loose on her and the assault would begin. After a days ‘work’ she would be returned to a tiny cage for the night, which was too small for her to even sit upright in.
Bears need a lot of room to roam, the opportunity to hibernate, and a balanced diet. Masha had none of this. She was much too thin and her fur dull. The concrete floor of her cage had badly hurt her paws, and she still has chafing on her neck from her collar and the heavy metal chains which she had to wear day in, day out.
We learned of Masha’s miserable existence back in February 2013 and we informed the authorities, which soon confirmed the animal cruelty and charged the owner. But before legal proceedings could start, the bear disappeared without trace. FOUR PAWS didn’t give up.
We managed to make contact with the owner and after a lot negotiating we eventually managed to agree for Masha to be handed over to us voluntarily at a secret location.
Masha fared well in the FOUR PAWS animal ambulance on the 12-hour, 900-km transfer from Kharkiv in the north-east to Zhytomyr. She was fed apples and fresh vegetables several times by our carers.
On arrival in Zhytomyr Masha was examined by vets. She was fitted with a microchip and given the medication she desperately needed. The heavy metal chains were also delicately removed. Masha’s was very nervous and of course weak. A new life is now beginning for her at Nadiya, where there are trees to climb, pools to swim in and areas to hide.
FOUR PAWS is now seeking a long-term solution for the remaining bears used in bear baiting. Masha's rescue is just the start. There are still about 20 more baiting bears in Ukraine. We want to give all of them a safe future.