"Animals are magnificient teachers. They are the guides who take us out into the non-human world and make us see its splendour and its wisdom. They are the educators who make us search for our identity, for our proper place in the community of living things. And they try, they try so hard and so patiently, to make us behave in a manner of wich we need not be ashamed."
Christine Chilver, the founder of "Animals Friend Fund"
Foundation “Dzīvnieku drauga fonds” („Animals Friend Fund”) was started on 8th of October 1996, and is one of the oldest animal protection organizations in Latvia. The idea to start and financially support animal help center in Latvia came to a Christine Chilver, a Latvian living in the United Kingdom, in 1990’ties. To fulfil her dream, she donated her land plot in Pardaugava (Riga), Fr.Candera Street as well as part of her estate.
In order to implement the Project, Kristine turned to a Latvian businessman from USA Justs Karlsons, who agreed to take up legal, financial, investment and administration parts of the Project. Latvian veterinarian living in the USA Liene Dindone agreed to help Kristine by taking care of veterinarian and medical parts. Art historian and patroness Ieva Marija Laukers involved her will to help and energy. One of the brightest modern architects Andrejs Gelzis agreed to design the Center’s building.
Designing of the Center’s building began in 1998. It took more than a year to receive all the necessary permits and to overcome various bureaucratic obstacles before the design and construction works could begin. Finally, on 23th of February, 2001, with then-Chairman of Riga City Council Andris Argalis and representatives of Embassies of the USA and the UK, a new animal shelter opened its doors – home of kindness “Dzīvnieku Draugs” (“Animals Friend”).
Although there were no regulations and norms at the time of designing and construction of the building, “Animals Friend” and its infrastructure were constructed in accordance to the highest European standards – the only shelter of this kind in Latvia then. Not only there are rooms for sheltering animals, but also there is a veterinary clinic “Dzīvnieku veselības centrs” (“Center of Animals Well-being”) and rooms for educational events and volunteers. The costing of the construction was significant – 350 000 LVL. Such amount had never been invested in animal protection in Latvia before and even nowadays such investments are very rare.
The goal of the Center is not only to provide care and find a home for animals in need, but also to bring ideas of animal protection into the world, to enlighten society, to organize informative events, campaigns and other activities. In order to reach this goal, both shelter’s and “Animals Friend Fund” financing and donations and volunteer work are enrolled.
In 2008, “Animals Friend Fund” received the “Year’s most recognized non-government organization in Latvia” award from “Ziedot.lv” fund.
In 2009, the Fund received the “2008’s leader in recognition among non-government organizations” award and a 300 LVL prize from Non-government organization Institute and “Swedbank”, leaving behind 56 other organizations.
In 2011, on volunteer-honoring event „Gūt var dodot” run by Boriss and Inara Teterev, with 300 volunteers from all over Latvia present, Fund volunteer Maija Selezņova received an award in nomination „Volunteer at animal protection organization”. In 2012, at „Darbs dara darītāju” event, Solvita Vība, chairman at the Animal Friend Fund and director of the shelter, was honored as one of the most excellent directors of Non-government organizations in Latvia.
The goals of Animal friend are following: