One simple tram ride in Bucharest made me understand what the word “homeless” really means. One winter day, as the tram stopped at the traffic lights, I saw a small stray dog which was following people as they were trying to cross the street illegally. He followed one crowd up to the middle of the street, then came back with the other ones coming from the opposite side; cars were passing by as it was still green light for them. Then this dog turned around in another direction ( it was a pretty big junction) and followed other people, wagging his tail, stopped in the middle of the street and looked around as if to see where was his human, where was he suppose to go, whom he was supposed to follow. But nobody looked at him, nobody whistled, nobody called his name. And it came to me: homeless means when one is rejected from everywhere, when no direction points to one’s home, when one isn’t called and has no one to follow home. What a terrible feeling!
Over the years, I found so many homeless dogs, so many of them hurt, injured, sick. The lack of proper veterinary care in my hometown drove me insane. I remember the early years, when I had no other animal lover friends to turn to and I was desperately trying to care for such dogs. It then seemed to be a pointless fight; I felt I was doing more wrong than right. I remember trying to save a lot of sick puppies, mange, parvovirus, lice and ticks infested, broken legs…I had no knowledge, no clinic nearby, no money to take them to another town to see a doctor. It was madness. I will never forget the cry of a puppy before dying as well as I will never forget the horrible feeling of helplessness.
I could fill pages with the stray dogs’ stories; I just have to close my eyes and think about all the dogs I tried to help over the years. Every night, before I went to sleep, I prayed to God to take care of the ones I couldn’t; I could see them all in the back of my head. As the list grew bigger, I stopped praying, because it was too overwhelming to think of so many poor dogs that died in vain.
Seeing my past experience, I am grateful for each stray dog that gets help when he needs it. Over the years, my colleagues from Moreni and I handled serious cases that needed a lot of support and we tried to do our best for them; driving them to Bucharest (about 200 kms) and back made it so much more difficult. However, it was an effort worthwhile. A lot of rescuers started to take severely injured, sick, abused dogs and seek help in Bucharest; dogs like these came from all over Romania and the expenses were not to be overlooked. But no matter how hard it was, our love for the animals and their increasing number on the streets of Romania made it impossible for us to turn our heads.
The Homeless Animal Hospital concept started as an answer to the great need of exceptional medical care for stray animals. The veterinary team that also works for Romania Animal Rescue Inc. struggles to reach out to people who take the trouble of saving a stray dog in need or to pet owners who care for their animals but have no money to pay for medical services when needed. They spare no effort in treating the animals that come to them, but sadly they don’t always have the means to do all they could for them. As every great cause, H.A.H. depends on the goodness of people’s hearts; and that is a good thing. How often do we get to save a life as pure as an animal’s life?
The R.A.R/ H.A.H. team gets to travel a lot, so we also rescue dogs on our way across the country. That is how we found Lipia, Lucy and Ranna, 3 little girls, victims of neglect. Lipia was found in a village nearby Bucharest at a free spay/neuter campaign. She had a severe case of Sticker tumor and was very scared. She weight about 3,5 kilos and she could hardly be caught, she was that scared (probably as a result of people abuse due to her horrible looks).
She is now fostered by one of the vets, dr Irina Corbu who struggled to treat the tumor and keep Lipiuta safe. She is not that young and looks like she can’t handle the cytostatic treatment that well, so she is not cured yet. Lipiuta had the opportunity to be taken care of by Homeless Animal Hospital’s vets and she is on her way back to recovery. She still needs treatment and we hope for the best forever home possible for her. Lipiuta turned out to be a very loving girl who just had the bad luck of being homeless and sick in a very cruel world.
Amos was presented to us in the same village where Lipia was found. It was pretty clear he had suffered an accident and it was pretty obvious that he was in a lot of pain. Urgent action needed to be taken. Dr Aurelian Stefan amputated his front leg. Amos is a very cute and loving boy, despite his ordeal. He is now waiting for a forever home that would match his luck when the H.A.H. vets took him in their care.
Coming back from a free spay/neuter campaign in Tecuci, dr Aurelian Stefan spotted Ranna and her two tiny babies. They were all abandoned on the side of a very busy road with little, if any chance of survival. As we stepped down from the car, the sight of things grew more horrible than we originally thought: they were all very skinny with no access to food or water and Ranna was dragging a long chain tied to her chest (she probably tried to escape from it and it ended up on her chest). Dr Aurelian stepped on that chain seconds before she was hit by a big truck; the two puppies were following her everywhere, crying for food. We gave them food and water, they were all desperate for it. They were all covered in fleas, dirty, hungry, dehydrated and could have been killed in any second if not taken to safety. It choked us all to see just how much indifference and cruelty there is around us. These 3 tiny lives were so inconvenient that they had to be dumped in the middle of nowhere and wait for death: slow and painful or quick, as road kill, it doesn’t matter, just as long as the one who put them there was free of responsibility.
Ranna and her two tiny boys will go to a foster home in UK soon.
I was also there last months to a free spay/neuter event when this little girl came to be spayed, but her owners complained about her health. As it turns out, she had a big stone in her bladder, which must have been very painful and, left untreated, deadly. Dr Aurelian helped these poor owners to have their pet healthy again for free thanks to the Homeless Animal Hospital concept.
But none of these cases (any many more) would be possible without your help. H.A.H. depends solely on your kindness and generosity and promises to be a light house in the dark for the innocent animals who need an excellent and dedicated team of vets.