2015 was an incredibly busy year for us,full of highs and lows. We managed to save so many dogs, finding homes for many, funding vet treatment, providing extra food, improving conditions in the shelter and laying the first foundations for our own sanctuary of hope. We laughed with joy at miracles, such as large donations or injured dogs getting back on their feet.
But we also cried far too often. We cried at the pain, hunger, cold, fear and misery of the dogs in the shelter and the dogs left to die by roadsides. We cried each time a life was lost, each time we could not save a soul from passing over, and for each soul that departed without ever having known the warmth of their own home and love. We cried far, far too much.
What kept us going through the year though was the hope. The hope that we could save more. The hope that we could make our funds go further. The hope that homes could be found and lives could be saved. We saw the miracles and the Happy Tails and they filled us with hope. It was hope that picked us up when we thought we could not cope with more tears and could no longer go on. Hope for all the poor souls still left in the shelter and the streets of Romania and hope that we could make a difference.
And we did make a difference. The shelter is now home to over 1500 dogs, 300 of which are puppies, but with an original capacity of only 700. If it were not for us and the support we receive from you we could never have helped keep so many dogs alive. Bucov would probably have joined the list of Romanian shelters which brutally slaughter their dogs, by beating, starvation or poisoning, to make way for more. Fortunately Bucov remains a place of hope – but only just. We need constant support in order to provide food to stave of starvation. We need funds to build improvements and extenstions in the shelter so that the dogs have a better hope of survival and do not have to live in total misery. We need funds to provide the puppies with the extra care and seperate enclosures they need.
Our funds though are never enough and we had many lows in 2015 where we could not help anymore. Where we saw the puppy deathrate remain stable because we could not provide enough puppy food or secure shelter. Where dogs died of disease and dispair because we could not help or we could not find them a home. We had to leave a mum and her pups out in the open because there was just no more room for her (she is now safe – but her pups still need to survive their first winter). We had a final year end low when someone dumped their old, sick dog at the shelter, thrown away like unwanted rubbish. The shelter is no place for an old dog to spend her last days and we will do what we can, but the sad reality this poor soul will have a miserable end of life now that her owners no longer want her.
But we had many highs too. We had so many Happy Tails, including our last one of the year Feder, who left on the New Year’s Eve for her forever home in Germany. We found sponsors and homes for many of the puppies, giving them a real chance to survive. We had my own personal favourite Happy Tail when paralyzed Rubino found a forever home, after months and months of having to live at the vet’s because no one wanted him. We had great successes, such as funds to make improvements to the shelter, including new kennels and at the end of the year when we were able to put up some tarpaulin to provide shelter from the wind to some of the open kennels. We kept our sterilisation programme going and saw over a hundred dogs neutered in 2o15.
We also welcomed many vounteers to the shelter, who helped us care for the dogs and provided the dogs with much needed love and in return received unconditional love from the dogs. We hope to welcome many more in 2016.
Another part of work in 2015 was working with the local school. Thanks to donations from our supporters for the children we were able to supply them with school books, pens and other school items. These children come from extremely poor families and these gifts make a big difference. In turn we educate them about how to treat animals correctly, and through them bring a message to their families that we are there for their sick pets and that we will neuter their pets free of charge. Hopefully through this work we will break the tradition of mistreatment and see a new generation approaching animals with more respect and care.
2015 was a great and a terrible year. 2016 looks like it will provide the same challenges and more. Already the year has started with heavy snow, leaving dogs struggling to survive on minimal food and poor shelter. Despite our improvements many of the dogs are still in enclosures that ofter little to no shelter from the winter conditions. With limited food supplies the dogs will not receive enough calories to keep them strong. Many of the weaker dogs and puppies will not make it through to the spring. Today we distributed our last bag of puppy food. We do not know when we will be able to buy more.
We can imagine what other horrors lay ahead of us this year. But we can also hope that we will see more miracles and will receive more funds so that we can help save more dogs. We hope that more people will open their homes to one of these poor deserving souls, and rescue a life by adopting one of the shelter dogs. We hope that more people will hear about the good work we do and decide to donate or volunteer with us. We hope that things will change and that we will see less dogs dying, less dogs being dumped like rubbish, and less dogs struggling to survive. We hope that one day all the shelter dogs will be able to live in comfort, with enough food, warmth and love. Miracles do happen and we hope for at least one this year.
And so it is that a new year begins. We thank you with our whole hearts for your support last year and we thank you for any support you can give us this year. We will need donations and unfdraisers. We will need supporters to share our messages, appeals and the photos of the dogs needing homes. We will need more volunteers to come out to Romania to help us at the shelter. We will need all your prayers to be able to make a bigger difference this year.