Dog fighting, though different from the practices in the United States, is a active and controversial part of Eastern European culture. The practice began in the former U.S.S.R. and Central Asia as a way to test animals which were used protect livestock. As with fights today, the Central Asian Ovcharka is the preferred breed. Although still occasionally used for herding, most Ovcharka owners use the breed for dog fights.
Coming from as far as Portugal and Kazakhstan, owners travel to Eastern Europe to buy in to tournaments. The animals are paired based on weight and fight in three rounds, the winner of which moves on. The match continues until one dog submits to the other, one is deemed to injured to continue or both animals tire. The winner can receive up to $4,000.00 for winning a tournament, which is life-changing money considering some participants come from countries like Moldova where the average monthly salary is $272.00. Owners of winning dogs can also make money by selling breeding.
Although almost all former Soviet countries in which dog fighting occurs have animal cruelty laws, they are seldom enforced. Fighting continues because it is legal, local authorities do not have the resources to shut it down or simply because they are paid off.
According to the World Health Organization, the rate of cancer in Moldova has steadily increased since the country’s independence from the Soviet Union. Largely attributale to the high rates of alcohol and tobacco consumption in the country, cancer is the second leading cause of death.
In the southern town of Taraclia, there is a palliative care organization named Hospice Angelus Taraclia. One of only 2 hospice organizations in the country, Angelus Taraclia visits patients in their region to provide end of life and pain management care.
The organization works despite unreliable transportation and infrastructure, lack of medical facilities and poor communication between hospice workers and medical doctors in the country.
In the summer of 2012, I was encouraged by my mother to visit my grandmother in Leixlip, Ireland. Our family had recently learned that she had terminal cancer and her condition was only getting worse.
I had always had fond memories of my time in Leixlip but it was then, surrounded by my family, that I realized this was a place that I could honestly call home. These images are a testament to the love and comfort that I felt in a home created by my grandmother. It is a place to which I can never return.
I am a photographer based in New York City. I’m interested in the way in which humans transport their traditions from one part of the world to another but mainly he’s just hoping we can all get along. He is currently working as a freelance photographer and living in Brighton Beach.