This week, animal welfare organisations in Romania have described the situation there as critical. The plight of Romanian stray dogs following the implementation of the recent culling law [ featured A,B,C,D] has become an emergency. Four Paws wrote:-
"The new law allows the killing of stray dogs after they have been kept in a dog shelter for 14 days. It is hugely unrealistic to think that the dogs could be adopted within such a short time. In addition, there are not enough shelters, food or veterinary care for the dogs. The law has condemned hundreds of thousands of Romanian stray animals to death."
Bagdat Oz, working with Rescuing European Animals in Need (REAN) said :-
"No dog is safe there anymore. We need to get these dogs out of that country ASAP"
She has been rightly critical of the UK and international media's lax attitude to this catastrophe. One local newspaper, the Forfar Dispatch took up the cause. They quote Gail Brown who states
"Even household pets are being targeted. I have heard of one woman's dog being shot right in front of her." She continued: "And people over there who are trying to help the dogs are being attacked themselves. The situation is out of control."
In their urgent appeal REAN wrote
"Animal lovers throughout the world are outraged with this unreasonable and horrific decision, and are trying their best to save as many dogs as they can from this biggest dog massacre in Europe's history"
There is a clear and present danger to dogs in Romania. Supporting REAM's view, Four Paws writes
"In the light of recent investigations FOUR PAWS is worried that the killing of dogs by physical violence and poisoning has already spiralled out of control. The local police even seem to ignore the barbaric killings of stray dogs which have happened up to now. Obviously people don't know that killing an animal comes under criminal law, and clearly the police ignore it. It is now public that one man also died from eating poisoned sausages intended for dogs. Police must take immediate action or we take them to court",
Having suffered violence at the hands of dog catchers, stray dogs are locked in public shelters and often denied food and water. Their fragile lives cut short with a glimmer of hope from rescuers and adopters.
Unfortunately, rescues are erratic and plagued by serious underfunding, making the process painfully slow - a catastrophe situation for dogs who have very little time.
Adopting a Romanian dog will not only extend its life but save them from a painful, horrific death. Rescuers use Facebook.com to engage support, adoptions and donations. Your country will have a support/campaign group there and it is worth researching potential adoptions through them.
Romanian Insider wrote a useful guide for Bucharest here , and international adoption is covered here . The UK's http://www.adoptarescuedog.co.uk/ is a useful primary resource, and first time owners can download the Dog Trust's advice on this subject. Before you Adopt is also a very useful guide. .
Prior to adoption, careful consideration must be given to affordability and your ability to take care of a dog. Adopting a dog from Romanian can cost between £225-350 [mostly transportation costs - organisations vary] in comparisons to the RSPCA's costs [From £120] listed here.
Potential owners need a home check that assesses your lifestyle and ability to take care of a dog. According to Anne Lewis, of the Lost Souls Sanctuary, assessments can look at "height of fences, secure garden, sleeping arrangements, other animals, working arrangements, vet etc".
She also warns "I'd also get a vet reference as these give you a good indication of how they look after their animals". After making an informed decision to adopt, its worth contacting one of the organisations listed here to select the dog you like. Most organisations will guide you through the process and suggest transportation. All dogs require a Pet Passport, Microchip, Vaccines, Health Certificate and a copy of the person's passport.
To lower the costs of adoption, Four Paws team in Bucharest has offered free neutering, rabies vaccine, passport vaccinations, micro chipping and registration. Transportation can either be by plane [ Check approximate flight prices] or by road ELI Pet Transport [email@example.com] organises transport and is rumoured to give discounts for transporting multiple pets. An alternative is Europet .
Many organisations have taken to Facebook to raise much needed funds and feature dogs who require assistance. Romanian Emergency Dog Rescue attempts to feature posts listed by local individuals and organisations. Like all online pleas, it's important to check that the organisation is reliable before you donate. That said, local reliable individuals like Galati based Paun Daniela do excellent work, and are solely dependent on public donations.
Bagdat Oz suggests, those who cannot adopt or sponsor can raise the awareness of the plight of the issue by leafleting, fund raising, social networking. Indeed Facebook is teeming with individual rescuers raising funds for local organisations and facilitating the rescue of dogs from Romania.
Those who have adopted Romanian dogs say it is extremely rewarding. Those who want to adopt can make it happen through Facebook, as there are many people willing to assist. Every life is worth saving, and while we cannot control the way governments work, we can all do something to help. Doing nothing in a state of emergency is no longer an option.