I Adopted a Street Dog in Albania

Last Updated on September 1, 2021

I Adopted a Street Dog in Albania

Yes, you read that right. Here’s the story of how I ‘accidentally’ adopted a street dog in one of my favourite places in the world.

I Adopted a Street Dog in Albania

It was December and I was doing the usual scroll of boredom through Facebook when suddenly the most beautiful post popped up in one of the expats in Albania groups I am joined to. A lady by the name of Kornelia had put a photo and a post about a street dog in Tirana. I was instantly drawn to the picture because ever since I was born my family has had border collies.

I am from New Zealand and my father was a sheep farmer, so he always relied on sheep dogs to help him on the farm. My father and I have a slight obsession with border collies. They are extremely smart and loyal dogs. They really are a human’s best friend.

I Adopted a Street Dog in Albania

As I read the description of Oreo my heart melted. Kornelia described him as a very sweet, energetic dog that only wanted some love. Kornelia and her husband Arbër run a dog coaching business in the capital of Tirana and they said Oreo used to wait for them at the same corner every day and walk with them. All he really wanted was the attention and love that all dogs deserve, but being a street dog in Albania, they are not always treated with love.

I instantly messaged Kornelia for more details and then messaged a friend that lives in Albania. My friend told me he would happily pick up Oreo and look after him for the three months until I was coming back to Albania. I was convinced that this was fate. There was no way that I could turn a blind eye to this dog. The thought of him being on the street made me so sad and I couldn’t stop thinking about him. Yes, I’m obsessed with dogs, clearly.

On Christmas day my friend drove to the capital and picked up Oreo and looked after him until I came back in March.

I Adopted a Street Dog in Albania

When I came back and met Oreo I was so surprised he was a street dog. He was good on the lead, in great condition and very adaptable. We made the trip from Berat (where Oreo was living for 3 months) to Saranda (where I live). It was a difficult ride as it was about 6 hours long and I found out fast that Oreo is highly carsick. Just imagine loads of dog vomit, a relatively hot day and a 6-hour drive – yeah it wasn’t pretty. Oreo spent most of the time on my lap and trust me, he’s not small enough to be a lapdog at all.


I Adopted a Street Dog in Albania I Adopted a Street Dog in Albania

Now Oreo and I live happily in Saranda together. He has been living with me since March so he’s totally comfortable with me and his new surroundings now. He is not a huge fan of the beach, just very confused about waves and why they are coming after him. He’s fond of children, very gentle with them and always waves his tail when he sees them.

Unfortunately, a lot of Albanians are scared of dogs so when I walk him a lot of people give him a wide berth, scream and even cross the road to avoid him. A lot of them have been brought up to not trust dogs and to be honest, dogs are not treated well here.


I Adopted a Street Dog in Albania I Adopted a Street Dog in Albania

Dogs as pets are not considered the ‘norm’ here. And if people do have dogs its usually for guarding purposes (which means they are tied for their entire life in the same spot). There are a lot of street dogs in Albania because they are no shelters here. Also, many Albanians don’t believe in neutering their dog because Albanians are very into natural processes and spading dogs is not considered ‘natural’.

There’s also a bigger problem here with street dogs that officials seem to try and hide. Poisoning of street dogs to cleanse the streets. I have talked to several people about this problem and it’s horrific. Dogs are being poisoned with battery acid by local authority’s to ‘clean’ the streets of dogs before the busy tourist season starts. Locals wake up to dogs dying slowly on the streets or in the case of the capital of Tirana, there are pits hidden from the public of dead street dogs. It’s horrific. The thought that Oreo could have been one of those dogs makes me sick. Who could do such an inhuman thing?

 I Adopted a Street Dog in Albania
Albania’s street dogs are beautiful too. Most of them are dogs which are considered extremely beautiful and expensive (if you buy)  in other areas of Europe, and especially in New Zealand. German shepherds, border collies, golden retrievers and many more beautiful doggies wanting a home!

This post is all about my adoption with Oreo, but I hope it opens your eyes to the street dog problem that Albania is currently dealing with too. And if you’re from Europe then maybe you should come take a visit to Albania and take a street dog off the street! Oreo is Albanian, but he is b-lingual and knows some English phrases too (smart dog!). And as I’m writing this he’s hasn’t taken his eyes off me, I think he knows I’m talking about him.

If you do want to help and adopt a dog, you should follow Kornelia and Arbër’s Instagram (dog walking and services Tirana) as they regularly put posts up of street dogs that urgently need a home. You should also join two Facebook groups both are called Expats in Albania (You can join here and here). If you are wanting to adopt a dog, you can come to Albania, go to a vet and get all the vaccines, neutering etc. done in Albania, and then you will be able to get a dog European passport which means they can live anywhere in Europe. Oreo has more passport power in Europe than me (damn him!).

That is my story on how Oreo and I met! I know a lot of you have been asking on Instagram why I’m living with a dog now and that is why.  

A big thank you to Kornelia and Arbër for connecting me with Oreo and all the amazing work they do to help save dogs in Albania, they are such amazing people!


Love from Oreo and I


travelling albania

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The Comments

  • Jub
    July 11, 2018

    Yay great story! Fun fact, dark and white chocolate Oreos were released in November 2017. That’s definitely some meta going on there. Jub

  • Jess
    July 30, 2018

    This is such a nice story, I got teary!! You’re amazing and Orea is so lucky to have you. So sad about the street dogs ?

  • Robin Young
    February 16, 2019

    Thanks for sharing your adoption story, Anita!

    We’re starting to plan a long-term trip to some Eastern European countries and are trying to find out if Albania would work for us and our two dogs (puggle and Australian Shepherd). Do you happen to know if dogs are allowed on trains, buses, and taxis?

    Any other tips for dogs in Albania and/or surrounding countries would be greatly appreciated.

    Robin 🙂

  • Ashley Runnels
    March 2, 2019

    I see you haven’t answered Robin but I also wondered about travel with dogs. My husband and I are looking at Albania as a place to move and wondered how dog friendly transit is. Thanks in advance!

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Ashley Runnels
      March 4, 2019

      Hey there, Albania is not so dog-friendly in terms of travel. I have been looked down upon for bringing a dog on the local bus before. Pet dogs are still a fairly new concept in Albania!

  • Gigi
    May 2, 2019

    Hey! This is adorable!

    I’m guessing since you said the country isn’t very dog-friendly, dogs aren’t welcome in restaurants or cafes? (I travel with my pooch and am putting together a big list of which countries allow dogs in restos and which don’t.)

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Gigi
      May 7, 2019

      It really depends where in the country! Tirana is a dog-friendly city. There are a lot of places you can bring your dog. In the rest of Albania, there are not too many. Having a pet dog and taking it to a cafe is a new concept for Albania.

  • Adela
    September 3, 2019

    Hi Anita! Do you know if in case of taking a stray dog off the street in Albania he would need 21 days of quarantine to be taken abroad (EU)? I read that, but I don’t know if that applies. The situation of dogs in Albania is terrible, which is just heartbreaking. I have seen people trowing stones at them and in front of our eyes a car killed a dog and left (they drive like crazy). This whole situation makes me feel sick of this country. I wanted to save at least one dog and take him with me. small one that wont make it on these streets for long. But I read about this quarantine and don’t know what to do 😢 I have 2 days and then I’m leaving 💔

  • Alex Howell
    October 2, 2019

    Awww it’s very cute!! I love dogs, all my dogs, I have four and they’re all are adopted from the dog pound, those dogs are the ones that more suffer, so I love to bring them to my home and gave them all the love and support they need, dogs are just kind animals, all they want it’s to play and have some love! It was really nice that you can adopt a dog in Albania, I can just imagine what a wonderful adventure it was!

  • Lindi
    October 18, 2019

    sweet as! As an Albanian who has lived in NZ, Love seeing a Kiwi girl live in Albania and blog the best stuff about my country online!

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Lindi
      October 19, 2019

      Thanks for reading! 🙂

  • Rebecca
    September 10, 2020

    Hi There! I recently adopted an Albanian street dog as well! I live in NYC and adopted my dog from a rescue here but our dogs look SO much alike its crazy. I came across your post and I see that you mentioned your dog gets car sick. Ours does too, I’m curious if your dog has overcome that?

    Cheers to dog rescue!

  • Jenny
    January 8, 2021

    Enjoyed your post! My husband and I just adopted a street dog from Kosovo, which has a similar street dog epidemic.

    Oreo is just beautiful and so is Saranda, but it really saddens me to read about how the dogs are culled. I used to live in Armenia, which also had a pretty big street dog problem when I was there.

    I hope you and Oreo are still doing well!

  • Tchajeu Romeo
    April 18, 2021

    Greetings. Please i am a Cameroonian presently based in Cameroon. I am a lover of animals and have great passion for animals. I am writing to request if i can come volunteer with your organization in Albania for one month at your convenient period. If possible let me know and i will meet your expectations

  • Ami and Tommy
    July 20, 2021

    Hello every body and lovers animals. We are couple married and live in Albania . Me and My Husband love so much animals ,special now We take care six puppys and more street dogs but we not have shelter or place to take care them all , also we give food as we can, because peoples in Albania almost not care and hate animals and this make Us so sad, but we can not do more . Please if some one want adoption puppy’s or want to help about dogs please let Us know ,because they need live and life too.
    Thank you so much for attention and Bless you all.

  • Madeleine Thompson
    May 26, 2022

    I saw a cute white and brown dog in Himare yesterday. I forgot that it wasn’t a good idea to touch them, and let her put her paws in my lap… She was so happy to get some pets and love.

    I thought she might have an owner, since she had a collar, but she was very dirty and very skinny. Seemed like an abandoned pet (as people often do at vacation destinations for some reason).

    It’s such a struggle to face these situations because it’s hard knowing the right thing to do + nail down the logistics of actually doing it.

  • A
    August 13, 2022

    What about cats? Sorry, I much prefer them and I’m curious about their situation. To be honest, I’m with the locals on this, I’m terrified of dogs and I do give them a very, very wide berth, I’m sorry if that offends you dog people. 😅 And again sorry, but I like it that Albania is not very dog friendly, I think they belong in the park, pet supply shops, the vet’s office and their owners’ homes, but not malls, restaurants, cafes and grocery shops.

  • Lara M Batchelder
    January 29, 2023

    Wondering how you have a dog in an apartment. I’m glad he has a home. He looks very sweet. Yes, I hear if lots of street dogs and cats in Albania. I wonder, if the Islamic culture and fear of dogs go hand in hand. I love my Hetman Shepherds.n

  • David Arnot
    February 13, 2023

    Hey Anita,
    Just reading your Blog about Oreo.
    My wife & I are coming to Albania in May.
    Travel will include Gjirokastra and Old Qeparo.
    Couple of questions for you:
    1/ Should we get rabies shots
    2/ ….and you’ll know what I’m on about here being a Kiwi, we like secluded beaches, not mobbed with people. We’ll have car and four good legs. Can you recommend any in Qeparo area …or swimming holes.

    Cheers, David Arnot

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > David Arnot
      February 14, 2023

      Hey David! Happy travelling to Albania. Rabies is not present in Albania so it’s not entirely necessary but that decision is totally up to you 🙂 And awesome that you will have a car because you’ll get to see some secluded parts of the country. Depending on which time of year you visit (August is busy everywhere these days) there are actually some virgin beaches on either side of Porto Palermo and Qeparo. They don’t have names so it’s had to pinpoint locations but if you drive slowly along the Riviera road you can stop of and take a dip anywhere along there!

  • Tor Fletcher
    May 9, 2023

    I am currently on holiday in Gjirokaster, Albania and I have seen and fed a dog that is chained and starving hungry. She also has a 6-8 week old puppy with her. He is not chained but is also starving. Can I unchained this dog and take her and pup to an animal rescue centre in the North and adopt them from there? I will have to return to UK soon.

  • Louise Murguia
    May 20, 2023

    Hello . My name is Louise and I am currently in Albania Tirana . I go back home to Uk on Tuesday 23 may . I have met and fallen for a street dog . I would love to rescue him . Could you contact me back please asap as I need to act fast

  • Camila
    June 7, 2023

    Hello Anita. Are you still living in Saranda? I’m here doing vacation with my husband and I’m completely in love of a dog who lives here at the beach and I want to bring her to Germany. We stay just until Saturday and I don’t know what to do ( to bring her to EU she needs a chip and a dog passport and I don’t know what else) It is very sad to see a lot of dogs in the street. I have always a bowl in my bag and food for them but I cry so much. Help me please

  • Andy Chapman
    August 5, 2023

    Dear Anita,

    What a lovely story! Oreo looks like such a sweet dog. My wife and I live in the US (Oregon) and we adopted an Albanian street dog from Shkoder (Banjo). In this case, he came first to a rescue organization as a puppy with his ears cut off. We’ve since learned that this is sometimes done for herd dogs in the Albanian mountains. But, given the culture of dog treatment in Albania, it seemed his only hope for adoption was to be sent to another country. An outfit out of Bend, OR called Street Dog Hero (https://www.streetdoghero.org/) helped with his transport to Portland. We’ve had him for about four years now and he’s the love of our lives.

    One way people can help make a difference with this issue is to donate to Albanian rescue organizations. We give routinely to Animals Need Me (https://www.facebook.com/animalsneedme/) the organization that cared for Banjo. However there are several others, such as Animal Rescue Albania (https://cuddly.com/shelter/43225/Animal-Rescue-Albania#:~:text=Animal%20Rescue%20Albania%20is%20an,mistreated%20on%20a%20daily%20bases.), Durres Albania Animal Dog Rescue Project (https://www.facebook.com/groups/2523976440953383/), or Protect Me Albania (https://www.spcai.org/our-work/shelter-support-fund/shelter-list/protect-me-albania). Besides caring for dogs in need, they also advocate for reform in Albanian laws and attitudes.

    Cheers All,
    Andy, Leslee & Banjo