Rain rain go away, come again another day. It’s been torrential rain for days here in Romania, it seems like I brought the English weather here for the weekend and sent the sunshine back to England- just my luck! After a very late dinner, the first meal of the day for myself and Alison I headed back to the hotel for some much needed sleep- It’s now Saturday 08th May and this morning I headed to Pantelimon where Alison is staying with Marius (mentioned yesterday) inviting, lovely parents. Today was going to be a very busy day with our first stop at Cucuieti to visit Stefan and Irina who had set up a shelter with over 300+ dogs. Navigating our way with the only directions of ‘go past the first bend of the village then on the second bend we will be waiting by the store.’ Lost?! Finally, we found Irina outside a gentleman’s shop where they had set up a small neuter campaign sponsored by two veterinary friends of theirs who had driven over from Germany. Set up in a small room like ours will be I was lucky enough to watch them spay a small dog, gruesome but extremely interesting to see.
We arrived at Stefan’s shelter where we were greeted by a tiny puppy only a few weeks’ old who had been dumped on the doorstep with his sibling- Stefan explained that the Mayor encourages the village people to drop the unwanted dogs at his shelter which is why his dog population increases so dramatically by day. Once inside it was like a high security prison, dogs in cages upon cages everywhere you looked and 20+ roaming in the courtyard covered in mud and excited for human contact which meant I was head to toe a walking target ready to be pounced on. 10 minutes later I was COVERED in mud, faeces and had been urinated on like a tree, I could only laugh at myself, these dogs know no better. Stefan showed us further into the shelter where the living conditions of the dogs were not awful but also not what you would like to see, Alison reminded me that he knew we were coming and would have cleaned out the enclosures. It was clear to us that Stefan and Irina received support for the Shelter and were not so much in need of help like other people we had seen. We said our goodbyes and were on our way.
Kola Kariola, a shelter ran by Marius and Eleonore was our next stop in Belciugatele. On our way there I had a heart leap out of my chest moment where I saw a small dog run into the middle of the road and be nearly hit by a car. We stopped and I ran out to get him swooping him up and taking him with us, he shaked in my lap the rest of the journey petrified, covered in ticks but also licking my hands and arms, the most gorgeous pup. My first on the ground rescue moment, wow, this is what we are doing, how could we carry on driving and let this helpless pup fend for himself. We arrive at Kola Kariola- the worst road conditions I have ever seen, a mud track swamped with rain water which was non driveable in Alison’s small hire care. We awaited pick up in Marius’s jeep which led us down the track avoiding not to throw up at any point! Passing Bertie (newly named and available for adoption!!) over to Laurent one of Marius’s amazing workers we clambered out of the car and changed into wellies which we were definitely going to need.
Dogs, dogs, dogs, everywhere we looked, this is where Alison has most of her dogs kept where she has rescued them in ways like I had on our journey here today. We went into a few enclosures to see how her dogs were getting on and photograph them so we could get them up onto the internet and ready for adoption. We headed to the beginning of the enclosures where the workers stayed in two rooms- in one room there was a dog who had been shot in the head with a nail gun and was recovering inside- I wish I could swear, a nail gun, a nail gun! Who could shoot a poor innocent creature in the head with a nail gun and leave it to rot away in a public pound.
I could see a tiny soul, bright red fur with her face pushed up against the metal bars of an enclosure, my heart melted. I entered and met ‘Red’ I instantly fell in love, she wouldn’t stop jumping up into my arms for cuddles and kisses and I broke down into a heap of tears, I was emotionally overwhelmed knowing I was walking away and there was nothing I could do, at least while I was here anyway. I didn’t like it, I loathed every thought that went through my head, how could someone dump something so fragile and loving- it really hit me and I was wondering when it would having seen so many dogs that morning. Words really cannot describe the feeling, I sat inside with Red for over an hour where she cried every time I tried to leave, it ate me up inside the whole journey back into Bucharest. I found it extremely difficult to sleep last night with a few tears before finally nodding off. Seeing these dogs in conditions unimaginable by the human eye is truly terrifying, I am so happy I came out to see what’s happening on the ground here because the fire in my belly is burning stronger than ever to help reduce the stray dog population.