More than 100 private shelters in Romania, some, just crowded back yards in the middle of a city/ village. A lot of people woke up one day as “rescuers”, most of them not knowing what that means and not having a plan, but the urge of rescuing as many animals as possible transformed them in shelter managers, fundraisers, full time workers and sometimes even into vets. The love for their animals helps them go on and in time acts like a real drug, as it replaces all other activities and sometimes even the need for other human beings around them. But no matter how great the love and how good the manager skills, time has no mercy and it never allows us to be around the animals for too long in one day.
Let’s take for example a shelter that houses 140 dogs; they are all fed daily, vaccinated, spayed/neutered, have treatment for fleas/ticks/worms all year round, enough doghouses and even a playground for them to stretch their legs. We could say it is a pretty well managed shelter and the dogs should be more than happy; a lot of people would be tempted to overlook these dogs, as they seem to be doing well, they are safe and should feel happy enough for the rest of us to take care of the real emergencies out there. But what we all seem to forget is that a shelter isn’t a home and the dogs need more than just a full stomach to be happy. I have seen it so many times, dogs that refuse to eat, even thought they had been starving, but rather get cuddles or just lean their heads against somebody, anybody...because the hunger of the soul is always greater than the one of the stomach. Dogs, we’ve been told, were tamed to be a man’s best friend, so this information must have gotten so stuck in their genetic code, that no abuse is too great for them to forget their mission on this earth.
Even though this shelter provides all the basics, time doesn’t allow the people to give as much love and attention as the dogs really need and deserve, making it painful for both parties to go on year after year on both sides of the bars.
Not all rescuers manage to provide for their rescued animals and soon their project becomes a place of slow, but well intended torture. The streets are full, the villages provide horror stories and the killing law keeps public shelters working full time, so more and more people decide to become rescuers and open shelters; some do their best and help a number of dogs to be re homed each year, some are lost in good intentions and soon get overwhelmed, having the dogs pay for it and there are those who see it as a profitable business. For all of them, there are plenty of dogs all over Romania and there will always be, as long as people invest in shelters rather than fund for mass spay/neuter events. Seeing so much suffering can be soul crushing and nobody gets immune to it, but we all must realize that suffering is all we will witness, as long as innocent animals get born unwanted and take the place of those who get rescued or die.
After so many years working in animal welfare, both as a rescuer and as a veterinarian technician, I still surprise myself standing after seeing so much suffering; there was a time when I thought I’d get so full of pain that I ‘d implode and end up an empty shell, but my brain found a way out. I am so convinced that one day there will be no more dogs for them to torture, starve, neglect, abuse and I am determined to live to see it. Every dog spayed means thousands of dogs who will never suffer; it is as simple as that. There will never be enough shelters for all the dogs that end up being dumped because they are unwanted; I sometimes imagine a shelter with bunk kennels, wouldn’t that be hysterical? The need for sheltering is huge at the moment, but only because we keep focusing on the wrong end of the problem, instead of going to the source and put an end to it; for each dog that is lucky to be taken to a private shelter, there are at least ten others who will take his place, simply because the territory becomes available and there are more food resources with every dog that leaves the street. This way, the shelters get overcrowded soon, while the streets remain full of roaming dogs.
Running a shelter of dogs means I get to see a lot of sad eyes that look at me with hope, but that hope grows weaker and weaker as the years go by; having to update adoption albums, adding another 6 months/1, 2 years to their time spent behind bars is as heartbreaking as any other experience with stray animals in Romania. We have to live with the idea that some will never get their perfect homes and not because they aren’t perfect, but because there will always be others who are smaller, curlier, scruffier, cuter or simply in a more dramatic state than them and this happens simply because others continue to be born unwanted.
Choose to be part of the solution, support free spay/neuter projects throughout Romania by donating to Romania Animal Rescue using these details:
Please check out our website: www.romaniaanimalrescue.org.