My Week: Anna Kogan in Third Sector Magazine

The founder of the Big Hearts Foundation, a UK animal charity that works in the former USSR, recounts her week.

Monday I set up the Big Hearts Foundation two and a half years ago to help animals in my native Russia and other parts of the former USSR. I fit my role for the charity around my day job as a credit trader in London. Over the weekend, I’ve received an email from a volunteer in Yakutia, Russia, who needs advice about stray dogs who have been attacking people because they are desperate for food. Some local people have responded violently, so I ask the volunteer to find the dogs and take them to our shelter.

Tuesday I am trying to open a dialogue with the local government in Yakutia to find a humane way to deal with the problem. I ask the charity’s staff to set up appointments with the local administration so I can talk directly with the government.

Wednesday I take a happy call from a colleague who has secured government funding in Suoyarvi, Russia, and some help from another sponsor – they are ready to fly solo and continue the work of neutering dogs and cats, and funding the vet we sent on training a year ago.

Thursday I have a Skype call with Anastasia, the charity’s director in Moscow. She tells me how a three-month-old emaciated lion cub has been running loose in a Moscow suburb. She doesn’t know what to do. I suggest she contacts the fire brigade. Later I hear that the lion is the “property” of wildlife traffickers who let it out occasionally to attract potential buyers. Anastasia and the animal welfare people pose as buyers and are able to take the cub to a shelter in Moscow.

Friday As we are relatively new, we need to raise lots of money. I give the charity all my salary, but we still need more financial support. We decide to develop an email marketing campaign aimed at local businesses and schools in a Russian town. I head home after work and meditate for 30 minutes. Later, I receive some good news – one of our volunteers had a response to our email and children from a local school are coming to see one of our shelters.