Tag: #romanianstrays

Support us and #SavePuppies

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We recently launched an appeal for donations to feed the many puppies in our care but sadly we had very little response.  As a result we have now extended this appeal and we are hoping that more people will see our campaign and donate to this very worthy cause.

31.07.16-3Every week puppies are dumped at the public shelter in Bucov, sometimes with their mothers other times unaccompanied.  The chances of their survival are very low, with the death rate of un-supported puppies hovering around 90%.  Thanks to our amazing supporters, for example through our Austria Division and Pro-Dog Romania, we were able to improve conditions for some of the puppies in the shelter through building seperate puppy enclosures.  These were sadly very quickly full to capacity and the number of puppies dieing is still very high, but for puppies that make it into the enclosure more than 10% now survive.  But we wanted to do more.

This was one of the reasons Aniela, the founder and leader of Hope for Romanian Strays, dreamt of building her own shelter, her own sanctuary of hope.  Again thanks to our supporters this dream has now become a reality and the Sanctuary of Hope is now a reality and in the process of being built.  Already there are around 200 dogs that have been brought here, including many, many puppies.  These are the lucky ones that are now able to grow up safe, out of the over-crowded and dangerous public shelter, and able to run and play.

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The costs however of running this shelter and feeding this many dogs and puppies is high and we are constantly desperate for donations to pay the bills.  The monthly rental for example if €2700 and a bag of 15kg food costs €35 (and we need many bags to feed the 200 dogs).  These are large figures for a charity run entirely by volunteers and dependent on donations.  It is disheartening this early  on in the fullfilment of this dream to already be struggling so desperately to cover the costs.  This sanctuary really is a small island of hope in a sea of despair and we need to fight bitterly to maintain this dream.  This is why we are reaching out to each and everyone of our supporters to ask for help.

31.07.16We need help now to pay for the food for the puppies, the elderly, the sick and disabled dogs that have been lucky enough to find a place at the sanctuary.  We need people to make donations today but also to consider becoming regular donators.  Perhaps you would like to sponsor one of the puppies or other vulnerable dogs? Perhaps you have friends who would love to help too?  Please take a look at some of these images and open your purse to help these poor souls.  Please also take a moment to share this blog post and our campaign images to reach a broader audience.  It is only through increasing our number of supporters that we can really ever hope of increasing the amount we can do. So please donate but also help spread the word of the great work Hope for Romanian Strays does.  #SavePuppies by sharing and donating via hopeforstrays.paypal@gmail.com

Thank you!

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A life in the day of a stray dog

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In the early hours of a wet spring morning life began.  By the side of a road an emaciated, flea ridden and scabby stray female dog gives birth to a litter of puppies.  A few miles down the road another female, also not particularly well fed, and chained up in a back yard with virtually no shelter from the morning drizzle, gives birth to her litter of puppies.  This second litter, unknowingly, are lucky.  The first mum and her puppies are found by a passing man.  He hits the mother over the head and hangs her body from a nearby tree, leaving her to die a slow and miserable death.  The puppies he bundles up in plastic bag and throws in the trash where their brief little lives come to a miserable end.

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Mum with her puppies in the shelter

Meanwhile the second little of puppies are scooped up by the female dog’s owner and he drives to the Bucov shelter where he unceremoniously dumps them in a cardboard box at the shelter gates.  Their mum pines for them and searches for them but they are gone.  The little bundles of new life shiver, wet from the rain in their box, and still less than a day old.  They are too young to survive alone and too young to understand or see what is happening to them.

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Little baby dumped at night – now in our care

 

 

But they are lucky.  They are lucky that they were not killed and that they have been given a chance by being brought to the shelter, albeit a very tiny chance.  Without their mum and without round the clock care they have no hope of survival but the shelter employees will not be there to help them.  Fortunately Aniela sees them as she arrives at the shelter and scoops them up and takes them under her care.  Now they have a chance.

Aniela nurses the two little angels but sadly one of them dies while still too young to be vaccinated.  As the “day” progresses more new born puppies are dumped and our little puppies now have to be moved to the over-crowded puppy enclosure as there is no more room with fosters and Aniela has to focus on the next batch of new born puppies.  Fortunately for the puppies Hope for Romanian Strays had funded special puppy enclosures so they do not end up in the main enclosures with the adult dogs.  If there were not the special puppy enclosures they would not survive for long at all – dying from either disease, starvation or injury as the large adult dogs eat their food and attack them.   Sadly though despite the vaccinations that supporters have paid for one more of the puppies dies.  This is the reality of life as a puppy at the shelter – despite all the help the death rate is still far too high.

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As the “day” progresses our surviving puppies are moved to the adult enclosures.  Here they have to survive in the pack.  They have to fight for their food and they are to survive with very little shelter.  The morning drizzle has now turned to a downpour and the floor in the kennels is a sea of mud and faeces.  To try to stay out of the mud and rain they move into the old wooden kennels, but the cold wind still comes in and no matter how they try they just can’t get dry or warm.

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Sick and scared

As the afternoon turns to evening, our remaining dog, huddles at the back of the kennels, wet and covered in mud from the autumn raid.  She is listless and clearly depressed.  When Aneila comes to visit she no longer even manages to raise her hear or wag her tail.  She has given up.  During her short life she has known nothing but the misery of being unwanted, of growing up and living in the shelter.  Aniela and the Hope for Romanian Strays supporters have tried through this “day” to find her a home.  Sadly no one wanted her as a puppy and as she grew into a young dog her chances of adoption get lower and lower.

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Old boy Natan 

Now she sits in the dusk of the day and her life.  Old, broken, unwanted and all she has is her own misery.  She has given up on her miserable life.  Her joints are aching with the damp and wet and her own old age.  She has known so little life other than the horrors of the shelter.  From the moment she was born into this Romanian life her chances were so low.  She survived but only to have to live out her life in more misery than she could ever have imagined. All those she knew and loved are gone.   There is nothing for her left in this life but more misery and an old age which promises only worse to come.  Soon she will be too weak and old to be able to fight for her food.  She will slowly starve to death or be mauled by one of the other dogs.  She has never felt the warmth of her own home, of her own family.  She can only dream of love and of spending her last days curled up on a warm rug by a fireplace, safe inside and sheltered from the winter snow, and with enough food.  She just stares at the back of the old kennel she sits in.  She does not even come out anymore when Aniela visits.  Her life is over.  As the day comes to a close she closes her eyes and waits for her painful death.

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Sick and injured dogs wait for treatment and hope

This is a “day” in the life of a shelter dog.  Whatever age they are when they come to the shelter the prospects are grim.  The young puppies dumped have no hope unless we can provide them with food, safe segregated shelter and vaccines.  The adult dogs must struggle to survive in over-crowded kennels where there is never enough food or adequate shelter, from the cold or heat.  For the elderly dogs life gets even worse.  They can no longer defend themselves and they feel the cold even more than the others.  They face a very miserable end to their lives.

This is why we beg you to get involved.  We beg you to help us raise funds to provide better shelter, better food and better care.  We beg that you talk to your friends, family and Facebook friends.  Can they find a small warm place for one of these dogs?  They do not need huge gardens or stay at home mums – they need love.  They need a forever home where they can grow old in safety and warmth.  Perhaps you know someone who does not want to commit forever but can offer a foster home?  For each home we find we can save a poor soul and get one more soul out of the hell that is the public dog shelter in Romania.  Each and every one of you can help dogs like these so please do not look away.  Please take that moment and help save a life.

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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