Tag: Romania

A volunteer shares her story

12571083_1045858965456560_556875025_nIn January this year Yvonne Riedel spent some time volunteering with us at the Bucov shelter in Ploiesti.  She very kindly wrote about her emotional experience there which we would like to share with you now.  The original German version is at the bottom of this post.

“Right now there are around 1800 dogs locked up and each day new dogs join this number. This is an almost unimaginable number and you need to see it to believe it. With time I have learnt to distance myself emotionally and not let it get to me.

12584234_1045858925456564_849442426_nHowever there are some things that are just very hard to accept. There is the total failure of basic things, such as a lack of daily supply of food and water, or when kennels are totally full of excrement and urine so that dogs can only move by jumping from kennel roof to kennel roof, because it is so freezing cold that no one bothers to clean the kennels or feed the dogs.   There are then the dogcatchers, who drag dogs with steel nooses across the entire compound, only to throw them into a kennel without taking any regard as the whether the dog even fits in. It is hard to see all of this and not to be able to do what one wants to do.  It is hard when one has to constantly balance between just the right amount of pressure on the shelter management and kowtowing to them, because our activity is dependent on their benevolence.  These are all incredibly frustrating things.

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12583676_1045858935456563_767232317_nThe main goal of our trip was to photograph the dogs and to gather a few details over each dog, to give them a face and a name so that each soul gets a chance to get discovered by a person.  And even though we managed to do this reasonably well, I still came back to the shelter each day with a feeling of dissatisfaction because there was so many things that we did not manage to do, either due to lack of time or lack of permission.

12576355_1045858918789898_1956522647_nWe used the half days, when the shelter is only open until midday, to visit some of the foster places.  There are at least the sick, the old and the handicapped dogs, along with many puppies were being cared for.  In contrast to the shelter these foster places were like an oasis in the dessert for the dogs.  The women running these sanctuaries sacrifice their own needs to care lovingly for their fosterlings. I have to say a huge thank you to them for this.

Besides all of this no day went by without us going to the vet with sick or injured dogs. Our vet also equally deserves a huge thank you for their daily efforts and battles for each dog’s life.

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The biggest thank you has to go to dog rescuers Aniela Ghita, Mihaela Theodoru and Catalin Stefanescu, who spend 365 days a year there, fighting with heart and soul for these dogs, witnessing all the unspeakable distress and horror without letting it get them down. Thank you for your amazing work!

Of course there were also happy moments.  Moments that give you strength, such as the affection of these dogs, who against all odds, and despite their horrific experiences, savour each second of being stroked.   There are the shy and scared dogs, who allow themselves to be stroked after a few loving words and some treats.  There are the puppies who steal a handkerchief or a hat to play with.  Just as important were the evening dinners with my fellow “combatants”, during which we could unwind, switch off and also sometimes laugh.

We were a great team and I want to take this opportunity to thank Susi Göthel, Anna Fortuna, Theresa Kindl, Florian Hobon, Andrea Moosmann, Aniela Ghita und Catalin Stefanescu for the time together – you guys were the best and I hope to see you all again soon!”

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“Das Hauptaugenmerk unserer Reise lag darauf, die Hunde zu fotografieren und ein paar Daten über jedes Tier zu sammeln, um ihnen ein Gesicht und einen Namen zu geben, damit jede einzelne Seele die Chance bekommt, von seinem Menschen entdeckt zu werden. Und obwohl wir das sehr gut umgesetzt haben, bin ich doch jeden Tag auf`s neue mit einem Gefühl der Unzufriedenheit in die Pension zurückgekehrt, weil es noch so viele Sachen gab, die wir nicht getan haben, sei es weil keine Zeit mehr war oder weil wir es schlicht und einfach nicht durften.

An den short days, Tage an denen das Shelter nur bis mittags geöffnet ist, haben wir die Nachmittage dazu genutzt, um unsere Pflegestellen zu besuchen. Dort sind zumeist kranke, alte Hunde, Hunde mit Handicap und viele Welpen untergebracht. Im Gegensatz zum Shelter sind das Oasen für die Hunde und alle Frauen kümmern sich aufopfernd und liebevoll um ihre Schützlinge. An dieser Stelle ein großes DANKESCHÖN dafür!

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Außerdem verging eigentlich auch kein Tag, an dem wir nicht nach dem Shelter kranke oder verletzte Hunde zum Tierarzt gebracht haben. Unseren Tierärzten gebührt ein ebenso GROßER DANK für ihren täglichen Einsatz und dem Kampf um jedes einzelne Leben.
Den GRÖßTEN DANK muss ich jedoch unseren Tierschützerinnen Aniela Ghita, Mihaela Theodoru und Catalin Stefanescu aussprechen, die 365 Tage im Jahr vor Ort kämpfen, die so viel mehr Leid und Elend ertragen müssen, die sich nie unterkriegen lassen und mit Leib und Seele für die Tiere einstehen! THANK YOU FOR YOUR GREAT WORK!

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12576130_1045858942123229_609021628_nNatürlich gab es auch schöne Momente…Momente die stark machen und Kraft geben…Die Zuneigung dieser Hunde, die sich trotz aller Widrigkeiten und Erlebnisse ein menschenfreundliches Wesen bewahrt haben, die sich an dich schmiegen und jede Sekunde Streicheleinheit genießen.Die schüchternen, ängstlichen Hunde, die sich mit ein paar lieben Worten und einem Leckerli doch noch zu einer Berührung “überreden” ließen, Welpen die dir Taschentücher oder deine Mütze klauen, um damit zu spielen. Genau so wichtig waren aber auch die gemeinsamen Abendessen mit meinen Mitstreitern, die Zeit zum runter kommen und abschalten oder auch mal zum herzhaft lachen.
Wir waren ein tolles Team und ich möchte mich auf diesem Weg, noch mal bei Susi GöthelAnna FortunaTheresa KindlFlorian Hobon, Andrea Moosmann, Aniela Ghita und Catalin Stefanescu für die gemeinsame Zeit bedanken!!! Ihr seid der Hammer! Ich hoffe wir sehen uns bald wieder!!”

 

And so a new year begins

 

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A 2015 Happy Tail

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.

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The reality of the shelter

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.

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Paralyzed Neela now learning to walk again with her forever family

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.

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Puppies dumped at the shelter

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Old girl dumped to die unloved in the shelter

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.

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Waggy tails waiting for food

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Save us from the mud

29.03.15-5It is that time of year again and Spring is upon us.  The birds are chirping, the flowers are blossoming and our moods improve.  Sadly with Spring come Spring showers and with them gallons of mud for our poor shelter dogs.  The dogs have no where else to go and face spending days in wet, clogging, dirty mud, making them shiver with cold and taking the lives of those not strong enough to stand these conditions.

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Last year we started making improvements in some of the kennels by paying for gravel to be put down and paying for stray for the dog houses to try to help the dogs stay warm.  The gravel helps but for the most vulnerable dogs we wanted to go one step further by providing tiled floors.  These cement tiles are the only way to really avoid the mud altogether and they also make the kennels easier to clean.

We’ve heard about the strays from Sochi … what about the Romanian strays?

There has been some great press coverage about the situation of the stray dogs in Sochi.  At first the coverage was desperately sad – and resonated all too well with those of us working with stray dogs in Eastern Europe.  The strays of Sochi were being rounded up and killed – discarded by a society that saw them as nothing more than garbage, a side effect of a building project. 

The strays from Sochi however got lucky.  First a Russian billionaire heard of their plight and remembered a stray dog he befriended as a child.  Like anyone who grew up with a best friend / dog will tell you, the experience is profound and the bond formed is something that you remember for the rest of your life. The strays then also stole the hearts of the visiting athletes and again made headline news – this time with photos of US athletes, like Lindsey Jacobellis and Gus Kenworthy, and the strays they had adopted and were planning on taking back to the US with them.

 

A photo the day after hundreds of dogs at Craiova shelter were "euthanized"

A photo the day after hundreds of dogs at Craiova shelter were “euthanized”

Sadly the strays in Romania have not had this same luck.  Like the strays in Sochi the conditions for them are tough and they fight every day for survival.  Officials have now given the go-ahead for them to be “euthanized” en masse and strays are being rounded up and put in shelters, where they are being systematically killed.  Photos of some of the shelters, for example Craiova, where this is happening show that they are not being euthanized in a humane way by a vet but beaten to death in front of the other shelter dogs.   There have already been many mentions of the similarities between Romania’s handling of the dogs and the Nazi handling of Jews during WWII and again this image appears as  yet again living beings are being beaten to death behind a wire fence, in front of their fellows.

 

 

More puppies dumped at the shelter

More puppies dumped at the shelter

Fortunately the shelter at Bucov has not yet descended to this level of depravity but it is full and over capacity and all of the foster homes in the area are also full.  And still more dogs are being brought to the shelter and still more puppies are being born on the streets or in the shelter. 

Just a few of the dogs we've found homes for

Just a few of the dogs we’ve found homes for

It is in these conditions that we are working hard to try to work with the shelter to find some solutions to the capacity problems, for example by making the enclosures smaller, or by re-homing as many dogs as we can.  We are also running regular neutering programmes to try to stem the flow of strays.

 

 

It is in these conditions that we as always reach out to our supporters and followers and ask to continue donating to this cause and to continue sharing our work and the photos of dogs needing homes.  We need funds on an on-going basis to pay for neutering programmes and to try to support the dogs that are in the shelter. 

Shelter puppy being taken to be vaccinated

Shelter puppy being taken to be vaccinated

Shelter puppy being vaccinated thanks to donations

Shelter puppy being vaccinated thanks to donations

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And it is in these conditions that we pray to also find saviours for our dogs, just as the stray dogs in Sochi found their saviours.  The dogs in Romania, just like the dogs in Sochi, do not deserve their current fate and we will continue to fight for their cause and do all we can to alleviate their suffering and bring hope.  Please support us in doing this and be a saviour to the dogs in Romania.

Contact us at hopeforstrays@yahoo.com if you can help a dog or make a donation to help with neutering, vaccination or feeding and caring for stray dogs via paypal (also hopeforstrays@yahoo.com).

 

Puppy being taken to be vaccinated

Puppy being taken to be vaccinated

Dumped puppies with food and shelter at the shelter

Dumped puppies with food and shelter at the shelter

Puppies in the puppy enclosure - safe from larger adult dogs

Puppies in the puppy enclosure – safe from larger adult dogs

Puppy being vaccinated - and hoping for a forever home

Puppy being vaccinated – and hoping for a forever home