At the end of September I embarked on a project visit to Romania, to meet Anca, a long standing partner of the charity and trained Vet. This enabled me to gain a much better understanding of the stray dog situation and the issues that Anca faces. The Romanian stray dog problem has been recognised for decades and despite the best efforts of rescue organisations and individuals, the situation remains bleak. Within minutes of leaving Bucharest airport the problem became apparent, with stray dogs seemingly on every street corner.
The dogs roam the streets in packs which can be intimidating causing fear and suspicion amongst locals. These feelings are widespread in the population and this ignorance leads directly to cruelty cases. The weekend before we arrived in Romania a litter of puppies we were expecting to rehome were poisoned, sadly two passed away and another two remain seriously ill. I have been made aware of hundreds of vile abuse cases in this last year alone; where in the UK the perpetrator would be prosecuted, in Romania these cruelty cases are far too common and go unnoticed with perpetrators unprosecuted.
Romania faces ongoing abandonment of dogs; pets are often callously thrown onto the streets and forced to fend for themselves with no consideration of their well being. Take Koko for example, a beautiful Chow-Chow mix who was discarded for not barking enough! Despite this, puppies continue to be born either to be abandoned or killed. We visited ‘hotspots’ for dumping dogs, including a railway crossing and a graveyard, where hundreds of dogs are dumped each year. The Romanian culture is significantly different to ours, where we see a dog as part of our family, in Romania dogs are seen as vermin or pests.
Trap, neuter, release schemes alongside education initiatives are the only hope Romania has to manage their exploding stray dog population. Anca, an extraordinary vet and dog rescuer who has been with Wild at Heart Foundation since the beginning, regularly neuters stray dogs and lets them recover in her home before releasing them. During my trip I also met Bogdan who founded ‘The Rainbow Shelter’ in Brasov. In addition to caring for over 70 dogs in the shelter, Bogdan regularly takes stray dogs from the street to be neutered and returned. The dedication of volunteers like Anca and Bogdan to tackle these issues head on, despite the contrasting views of their communities is highly admirable.
Whether a Romanian dog is on the streets starving, cold and facing death at every corner or stuck in a public shelter abused and traumatised, this is no life for them. Please help us control the stray dog population… it only costs £25 to neuter a dog and prevent the birth of 100 unwanted puppies. Please help us. DONATE HERE.