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.
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.
In Moldova, retirement does not signal the end of one’s working days, but the beginning. The mandatory retirement age is 62 for men and 57 for women. After that, the elderly are required to grow food in order to support themselves. To do this, they rely heavily on the help of working family members and community farming practices.
The average pension in Moldova is 975.60 lei a month which translates to about 74 USD. To supplement this, pensioners grow their own food and sell it or trade it to their neighbors for goods and products they do not produce on their own.
Many of the county’s elderly population also rely on sons or daughters. Those who are working abroad send back money, although this often means that the elderly have young children to look after. If they live in Moldova, they often assist in planting and harvesting crops.
To help with large tasks, like harvesting corn, neighbors will often assist one another in exchange for help with their own work.
You can learn more about subsistence farming in this report done in 2003 by IAMO.
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.