Having a dog opens you up to up to a whole new community. In the three months that I’ve owned my toy poodle Snoop dog we have gained two close friends, Liz and Gary who own a pet shop called Nutts4Mutts in West Hampstead; London had become a friendly place – commuters talk to us, people in the street stop to play, and passers by smile at us; it’s also opened my eyes up to to the huge and tragic problem with dogs so I’ve become an ambassador for dog rescue charity the K9 Angels.
Feeling confident that we’d purchased our pup responsibly it took my cute little puppy to Pup Aid, a dog festival in Primrose Hill, and it was here I met Marc the Vet and the K9 Angels and started to realise just how bad the situation is.
When I approached the K9 Angels stall the first thing I noticed were the beautiful blonde founders, who I now know as Pola and Victoria, and their cute fluffy dogs. I suppose I stereotyped them and so I was shocked to learn that these dogs were rescue dogs who were saved from awful conditions in Romania. Despite their glamorous appearance, Pola and Victoria have literally sacrificed everything to dedicate themselves to improving the conditions in Romania and educating people back home. They don’t take any money from the charity and Pola works two jobs to be able to pay her bills.
We got chatting and they invited me to go with them to Romania, and even though part of me thought that perhaps I wouldn’t care about dogs so far away, I decided to go along and see the situation for myself, as Whinnie Williams did before me. And I am so glad I did.
There is a huge stray dog problem in Romania, everywhere you go there are dogs. On the side of the road, on ditches, one I saw with my own eyes lying on the roundabout just waiting to be hit. They are seen as a nuisance by many people and are beaten or killed in their millions. There are dogs that are so badly injured it’s amazing they survived. Dogs are not seen as man’s best friend, but as vermin.
The dogs that are ‘lucky’ enough not to be murdered are captured and taken to public shelters where we visited as soon as we arrived in Craiova. The only way I can describe the public shelter is a dog concentration camp. It’s not a shelter, it’s a doggy death camp. There were rows upon rows of kennels with dogs crammed into each one. Dogs of different sizes, ages, and breeds, ridden with ticks, distemper, and up to their knees in their own faeces. Whilst I was there I noticed dogs throwing up processed meat that they are fed by people who work at the shelters – they don’t even bother to peel off the plastic and rope that the meat comes in.
I fought back tears walking through the rows of dogs all balking, some coming up to the fence hoping you’d take them away, some so terrified they ran into the kennel, some so weak they were unable to stand.
We promised ourselves we would pick one dog each to rescue and foster, but we left with seven. How could we leave dogs there to die? The K9 Angels don’t have the funds or space for 7 – the injections, food, space in the shelter etc. We are hoping you will donate, I did. The worst part of rescuing them were the way in which the staff took them out of the kennels – with no emotion, glazed eyes, and a pole with wire which they brutally put round their necks. For them it is just a creature, they do not care about the dogs, that much is clear.
I picked a dog that was so afraid she wouldn’t come out of the kennel. She was covered in dirt and was screaming in a way I can only compare to a fox – that piercing shriek of terror when they fight. She had a beautiful face and looked a little like a husky – my boyfriend likes huskies so I thought perhaps he’d be more willing to foster that dog whilst we find her a loving home (what do you say Matt?)! I named her Felka, which I tought was the Polish word for lucky – it turns out it isn’t but I think she suits that name anyway. She has had all her injections, and her first proper meal. and will be waiting in Romania whilst she gets her passport sorted out. I love her.
Here are some of the poor dogs we had to leave behind:
Victoria rescued a very sweet black dog Nelson and he was the only one we could take away immediately as the others need to be spayed. These remaining six were put into a cage so small that the dog workers refused to allow us to take photographs. But soon they’d be out.
We took Nelson straight to the vets so he could be tested for distemper – If a dog tests positive it’s unlikely it will survive and it’s contagious so it would mean they would be unable to be saved. Thankfully Nelson tested negative, although he did have a temperature, giant fleas, and another disease which will take a month of antibiotics to clear, but he is safe, and will go to the shelter the K9 Angels built whilst he awaits his jabs, passport, and finally a home. But more on that shelter later.
Whilst at the vets we assisted with the neutering and spaying of dogs, funded by the K9 Angels. The more dogs on the street the greater the problem, the more that end up run over, murdered, or left to die in public shelters. The K9 Angels strongly believe that the best long term solution to the problem is having dogs spayed – no breeding, no more dogs. Whilst we were in the vet 5 puppies were brought in that had been found and were so sick four died.
It takes ten minutes and costs 23 euros to neuter a dog, which when you think about the £200 you pay in England is nothing. But the minimum wage in Romania is 200 euros per month. It is a poor country. People cannot afford to do it without our support.
Victoria, Pola, and I helped to shave the dogs, stroked them as they were injected with the anaesthetic, then assisted the vets as they performed the operations.
One 26 year old woman came in with ten dogs. She explained that she looks after 180 dogs in an unofficial shelter she created herself. She doesn’t legally own the land but she loves them and so gives up her time to save them and try find them homes. She was so grateful to the K9 Angels for funding her to neuter the dogs.
Another dog owner dropped her dog off to get spayed, we would later name the dog Grace. The vet told us that the owner was concerned about her paw, as it was swollen and damaged, but she couldn’t afford to pay for the x ray. It looked like it had been run over by a train, or crushed with wire, so the K9 Angels told him to do it (50 euros) and they’d find a way to fund it. The vet then told us she needed her whole leg amputated so we paid the extra 50 euros and the operation went ahead. We went to see Grace afterwards and she looked so sad, as you’d expect. What made it worse it that her owner rang to say she no longer wanted it, but was going to keep her litter of one month old puppies. No leg, no puppies, and no home. It broke my heart. Grace is now looking for a loving home.
The K9 Angels shelter
Next we went to the shelter that the K9 Angels funded and built. This shelter homes dogs who have been rescued and treated and are awaiting for homes. They are put into homes according to their size and temperament and are looked after; the homes have heating, beds, and food. Some dogs are so traumatised that the shelter’s manager, Aurelia, is still trying to rehabilitate them before they will be allowed to be adopted. Some already have homes across the UK and Europe and are just waiting to be transported to their new homes, others are still hoping for their forever home. The faster the dogs find homes, the faster we can rescue more dogs from the atrocious conditions of the public shelters.
Aurelia runs the shelter single handedly, although the K9 Angels are now looking for people to help her as she has too many dogs to look after alone – they need to raise 200 euros per month.
The K9 Angels want to build more shelters so that eventually we can remove all the dogs from public shelters so they can at least live in humane conditions, without being beaten or attacked by bigger dogs.
Whilst the K9 Angel shelter was the loveliest part of the trip, it still made me sad to think of the dogs without a loving family. I thought back to Pola and Victoria’s rescue dogs, not only cute but just so grateful to be loved.
I thought ofSnoop, something I love more than anything in the world. I thought how lucky he is, but also how sad it is that I went to a breeder after seeing what I saw. Do I regret it? Well I can’t, because he’s my baby and I love him. But having seen what I’ve seen and knowing what I know I will rescue going forward. I can’t have two dogs, I couldn’t because of my flat and I wouldn’t be able to take more than one dog to work with me.
I understand people who want puppies, but until we ensure more dogs are spayed and neutered there are always unwanted puppies waiting to be rescued. I hope this post opens your eyes as it did mine and you bear it in mind, whether you rescue from abroad or home.
How can you help?
- Adopt a Rescue Dog, you can view the dogs available to adopt on the website.
- Donate to the K9 Angels. You can give a monthly sum of money or make a one off payment. All the money you give will go to the dogs.
To give you an idea of how far your money will go:
Neutering / Spaying : €23
Feeding a dog for a month: £15
Adopting a dog (covers neutering/passport/vaccinations/rehabilitation and transportation): £230
Building a K9 shelter: £9000
Employing someone to run the shelter 200 euros per month
- Buy some of the incredible merchandise the K9 Angels have on offer – the bags are gorgeous.
Finally, I must say thank you to the K9 Angels, to Aurelia, and to Madalina who let us stay at her house and gives up her spare time to look after the dogs despite working in a pharmacy from 8am-midnight. The work you ladies do is inspiring, I know I couldn’t do it, and I hope this blog post helps to encourage others to donate, adopt, or just think twice before going to a breeder. I couldn’t do what you do.
The say a dog’s a man’s best friend, so let’s help our friends.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Speak to you soon x