by founder Nancy Janes
In 2001, myself and 2 friends from the San Francisco Bay area took a hiking trip in Romania. We immediately noticed the sad state of the dogs……unwanted animals abandoned to life on the streets, in forests, and fields. While nurturing some dogs in a park one day, a young lady approached me. She thought I was poisoning the dogs…..she told me that the dogs were being killed and that she and her neighbors were hiding as many as possible from the authorities and could not take any more, so she was looking out for these dogs that were in the park. I told her I was an American, and I would go back to the USA and contact the international charities that I supported and ask them for help for Romanian animals. She replied “Everyone says they will help the Romanian dogs. They go home, they forget. You will go home, you’ll forget”. My reply, “I will not forget”.
Upon my return to the USA, I approached many international charities, and they all refused my request to help in Romania. After sending donations to a Romanian charity I met online in 2002, my husband and I began Romania Animal Rescue as a registered 501 © 3 charity in the USA in 2003. Our mission is to “promote and establish animal welfare in the country of Romania.” Like many other people and charities, we started out by financing a shelter. But there was never any change, no progress in the never- ending supply of unwanted animals that were continually abandoned. Without putting a cap on the never – ending flow of more puppies, kittens, dogs, and cats, no progress to “promote and establish animal welfare” was apparent to us. Impoverished citizens did not have the means to spay/neuter their animals and often could not find skilled vets, so therefore could only resort to one of two choices…..either kill the puppies and kittens or abandon them. Our charity needed to step in and offer some help for these people. In 2004 RAR began sending veterinarians from the USA to train Romanian vets on spay/neuter techniques. While still helping shelters with infrastructure costs, food, supplies, and doing adoptions, we started trying to move the public to understand the importance of spay/neuter, and began increasing our support for spay/neuter as much as possible….but one of the problems was finding skilled vets to work with, as well as knowledgeable charities and individuals who could understand that spay/neuter would stop the crisis of never-ending suffering. In 2004 we started spay/neuter in one community. In 2006 we began moving from shelter help to provide spay/neuter on a grander scale, as our funding would allow……something desperately lacking in Romania.
While accompanying Dr. Richard Bachman (USA vet) in Romania during a vet training trip in 2008, I was told of a young vet who had recently returned from a 4 month veterinary training trip in the USA, a Dr. Aurelian Stefan. Dr. Bachman and I met with Dr. Stefan (now Dr A) for coffee…..Dr. Bachman asked the right questions and got the right answers. He advised me to give this new vet a try. In 2009 we began working with Dr. Aurelian Stefan and his brother, Dr. Petrisor Stefan. Our first spayathon was held in Sibiu with the charity Animal Life. Soon more vets were added to the “ RAR Dream Team” of highly skilled veterinarians. In 2010 RAR did 2 massive spayathons, one in Bucharest for over 700 animals with the charity GIA, and one in Tecuci for over 650 animals with Association Tomita. Our mission was now taking hold! And I can proudly report that RAR is now over 66,000 spay/neuter (as of June 2018), over 9300 in 2017 alone. We often have spayathons now in villages and towns simultaneously, providing excellent surgeries to those who cannot afford the pay for them. Our main focus is to get funds for spay/neuter, as the EU does NOT provide funding for spay/neuter in Romania and never has, and only through donations is our work possible. In late 2015, construction began to build the amazing Center of Hope. In February 2017, the first patients began arriving. The Center of Hope is located outside of Bucharest. This new Center is a state of the art Center for Romania and Eastern Europe. The Center features the latest in diagnostic equipment and the highly skilled vets from our Bucharest hub Dream Team call this home.
Our goal is to spay and neuter 500 animals per month at the Center of Hope, most brought in from villages by our Spay Shuttle. In addition to spays and neuters, we also run an additional Homeless Animals Hospital program at the COH providing treatments, as our funding allows, for the most needy animals. We knew that education was needed as well so that the public would understand the importance of spay/neuter, to learn to have compassion for the animals whose fate was not of their choosing, and how to humanely treat them. We began our education program with the help of FPCC who allowed us to use their education books. Help from Mayhew International, UK and Global Giving donors allowed us to print and distribute now approximately 19,000 education booklets to schools, charities, an orphanage, and community events. But what to do about the injured animals living on the streets? What to do about the pets of people who loved them but could not afford to treat them for injuries? Many people come across injured animals, yet are reluctant to help them because they are unable to afford the cost burden or take the animals to their homes. RAR needed to reach out to the Good Samaritan, by providing a “no commitments” service to help the animals. While we always helped to finance veterinary care, we needed to do more. The Homeless Animals Hospital was born. HAH provides free or subsidized care for homeless animals brought in by the public or local charity as our funding allows. Foster care homes and friends from local shelters often help us to provide safe havens for dogs that need a place to go following treatments, and then these animals are put up for adoption if possible. It is also one of our experiences that often times the Good Samaritan decides to adopt the animal they helped! We also provide free veterinary treatment for the pets of the impoverished. HAH also provides free spay/neuter services, in Craiova approximately 15,800 animals have been spayed/neutered at Family Vet clinic via HAH (As of June 2018).
Homeless Animals Hospital program runs at both Center of Hope, Bucharest area, and Family Vet, Craiova, as well as on our mobile campaigns. All as funding allows. Another program we sponsor is the Veterinary Training Camp. VTC is the creation of Dr. Aurelian Stefan, Dr. Petrisor Stefan, and Veterinary Technician Ruth Osborne. RAR sponsors Romanian veterinarians who need to heighten their skill level for spay/neuter surgeries and other surgeries. At the VTC, vets are trained on the skills to perform keyhole incisions for faster recovery time and minimal discomfort for the animals. They are also taught flank spay methods so that nursing dogs and cats can still nurse their offspring after spay. By reaching out to train more vets in Romania, even more animals in more communities will be helped. And now, here are some statistics in regards to the dogs: Each female and her offspring, according to Dogs on Death Row, PETA, and HSUS, can produce in 6 years up to 67,000 puppies. Granted, even if born, many of these puppies would die of parvo, distemper and other diseases or infestations, be hit by cars and receive other injuries. One spay of one female dog can prevent the suffering of thousands. This is why we do what we do….to decrease suffering and stop the uncontrolled breeding of unwanted animals that are abandoned. We are approaching 70,000 spays/neuters combined in Romania, Bulgaria, Suriname, Dominican Republic, Portugal, Panama, UK, USA, Greece (as of June 2018), with our main focus in Romania.