The Bosnian war in the mid-1990s had left more than 100,000 people dead and 2 million displaced. While deployed as a photojournalist at a NATO camp outside Sarajevo in 2014, Katie Gar Ward (Col ’08) was overwhelmed by the masses of dogs roaming the streets.
One particular stray that hung about the camp for food and belly rubs inspired Ward to begin a nonprofit upon her return to the United States.
Through The Tanzie Project, Ward now finds families to adopt or foster the street dogs of Bosnia and Herzegovina. She partners with local rescue groups in the effort, which spay and neuter to help stem the population.
Donations to The Tanzie Project cover rehabilitation, shelter and transportation costs. More than 200 dogs have been adopted or fostered in Europe and the U.S.
“She could not forget what she saw and decided to help,” said Bosnian rescuer Selma Delić, in an email.
Ward grew up in Charlottesville and the family always had pets, particularly dogs. As an adult, she adopted shelter dogs but never planned on leading an international group to help them. That changed when she met one tan sweetie with stripes like a zebra that she named “Tanzie.”
“There was just something about her eyes,” Ward says.
Tanzie now lives with Ward and her husband in Hampton, Virginia, where Ward continues her work at Joint Base Langley-Eustis as a photojournalist in public affairs.
Because of her love of Tanzie, Ward says she’s relishing her new work as an advocate for animals: “I will never not want to help dogs.”