Bleary eyed I navigated through customs into the swarm of tourists and locals in the arrivals hall where I could only think to myself, hallelujah for Uber! I had arranged to meet Alison Standbridge the Founder of Paws 2 Rescue in a village one hour outside of Bucharest called Belciugatele which would be the first location of the Neutering Campaign Wild at Heart Foundation are supporting. It was instantly noticeable that there is a vast problem with the stray dog population in Romania passing strays every corner we turned. After over an hour of mud tracks and misdirection I was welcomed by a smiling waving Alison who had been waiting patiently for me to arrive. Pleasantries aside we had a job to do, first on the list was to visit the location the Neutering Campaign was to be held, a local man’s shop with two back rooms which would be cleared out and painted with a clean water supply and electricity, simple but perfect all at the same time. Alison pre warned me before entering that it wasn’t in the best of conditions and would be sterilized with the work carried out over the rest of the weekend in time for the first session on Saturday 12th May. In the gardens of the location there will be BBQ food and beverages to encourage people to bring their dogs along. After speaking with Rudi & Marius the veterinary surgeons who will be carrying out the spay and neuter procedures alongside two more vets Ionela & Christian and four veterinary assistants, I instantly gained a stronger insight into do’s and don'ts of each village/town.
Belciugatele, the first village we will be campaigning in is relatively dog friendly with the Mayor and Police strongly backing the first campaign. The Mayor will be joining forces with the police to enforce each dog owner to have their dog spay or neutered next weekend which isn’t the case in other villages. With threats of being fined if dog owners do not take their dog to be neutered we are hoping for at least 200-300 procedures to be carried out. Marius and Rudi will be microchipping all dogs brought in by their owners and clipping stray’s ears which will be brought in by dog catchers arranged by Marius. The dogs will also receive tick treatment and any other medical care needed whilst in the more than capable hands of our extremely devoted vets.
To give you an understanding of how some villages have different views on neutering and the stray dog problem I would like to tell you briefly about the next town we will be campaigning in. Funduela, Funduelas Mayor’s current solution to stray dogs reproducing is to ask Gypsy's to kill the dogs in return for payment. I was outraged that this was happening and it really hit home to understand how awful the current situation is out here. Luckily the Mayor will be supporting the next campaign which will hopefully reduce the killings of stray dogs on the streets.
A break from neutering our next task was to visit a lady called Marda who Paws 2 Rescue had been in contact with and recently rehomed a magnificent search and rescue dog that had been in her care. Marda lives in a house with 30+ cats and over 15 dogs including puppies and dogs as old as 16. Navigating the roads and supermarkets to bulk buy cat and dog food we finally found ourselves around the kitchen table with Marda, 5 dogs, 6 cats a large goat and a 'ginormous' bunny rabbit an interesting afternoon to say the least! Marda was clearly passionate about rescuing animals as a whole with paddocks outside for the rest of the dogs to play in. With every story of each animal she told I could feel myself understanding why she had such a full house, true love and care for dogs and cats with individual needs that most people won’t put up with which is why they end up on the streets in a worse off condition. Paws 2 Rescue are hoping they can help adopt some more of her dogs into the UK once skin conditions have cleared up and they are fit and able to travel the distance.
More to come tomorrow when we visit Marius’s shelter!