After 20 years of alcohol abuse, two Russian residents have received an offer to attend rehab – free of charge – in Romania. This would be a heartwarming story under normal circumstances, but this “intervention” is different. Why? Well, for starters, the addicts in question are wild bears.
Yes, you read that correctly; two wild bears are suffering from alcoholism and in desperate need of rehab.
How Does This Happen?
A restaurant in the seaside city of Sochi adopted both male bears when they were still cubs. Instead of treating these animals with care and respect, the restaurant owner, Dzheniks Uzaroshvili, kept them in unsanitary quarters where they were taunted round-the-clock. One of the bears was even blinded by the constant glare of customers’ car lights.
Eventually the restaurant owner allowed customers to give the bears booze as entertainment. Anna Kogan, head of animal welfare charity Big Hearts Foundation, explained to The Independent that drunks would “come to the restaurant, park their cars in front of the bears and throw things to the animals so that they get drunk and behave funnily. Bears have a stronger reaction to alcohol than humans—they can die.”
In a show of sheer lunacy, Uzaroshvili even claimed that “beer is good for them because they live in such a climate.”
Standing Up for the Helpless
After local activists complained, a court order called for the bears to be seized from the owner on March 3. The Big Hearts Foundation said the animals would be transported to a bear sanctuary in Brasov, Romania, and will receive treatment for their alcohol addiction.
Perhaps surprisingly, Kogan said the sanctuary was selected because they previously “worked with dancing bears who had similar problems. It can be done.”
The Russian Nature Ministry is covering the costs of transporting them abroad.
Creating an Animal’s Addiction
Luckily, punishment for animal abuse in the U.S. is getting much more impactful. In March 2012, a Montana man was arrested for getting his dog so drunk on vodka that the pooch was four times over the legal limit and couldn't stand up. Luckily, the Pomeranian survived and the dog owner was sent to jail on charges of animal cruelty and a separate felony drug charge for possessing a bag of hydrocodone pills.
As heartbreaking as this story is, a despicable number of animals are being forced into addiction via research and testing labs around the world. And, make no mistake, these test subjects are not limited to rats.
The Beagle Freedom Project, based in California and with branches in numerous states, focuses on getting these adorable puppies out of lab tests where they are forced to consume drugs and alcohol.
The organization also created a piece of legislation called the Beagle Freedom Bill, which looks to make these tax-payer funded research labs put the beagles up for adoption instead of putting them down after testing ends.
Minnesota first passed the bill last year and four other states could pass it by the end of 2015, including California and New York.
Learn more about substance abuse and the treatment options at your disposal.