Our UK team has been in Romania every month, with 17 trips in 2017, and we have made huge steps forward, including the achievement of all our projects which had been set in 2016.
Highlights month by month…
Our year started in January, with snowdrifts up to 10 feet high, as we shovelled snow in temperatures of – 25C during the day, digging dogs out of snowdrifts.
February arrived and our dreams came true in Baia Mare in the north of Romania. We brought running water to our NGO partner shelter there, thanks to everyone who donated. The team had been looking after 165 dogs by carrying water, half a km from the main road. Bringing running water to the shelter was a huge benefit to them all.
In March, we were able to bring solar panels and self generating electricity to one of our NGO partners’ shelters in Calarasi. A huge step forward in being able to heat water, and so desperately needed there, with over 500 dogs in their care. March also saw our first huge spay campaign of the year, in Constanta, Romania:
During our trip in April, we were happy to deliver chocolate eggs from our children’s Easter Egg appeal to children across Bucharest and some of the villages around. It was wonderful to see your donations being devoured by such happy young children, most of whom never receive an egg. Your gestures from the heart meant so much to us.
In May, after the shocking floods in Peru, and seeing the dogs drowning in the rising floodwaters, we were only too happy to work on a project with a local rescue out there. We supported a neuter campaign, presenting an award to a school for their outstanding levels of animal care, and helping stray dogs in need with treatments.
June and July, our focus turned to the horrific events in other parts of the world, as the dog meat festivals in China and South Korea started. Working with local rescuers, we flew 3 jindo dogs from South Korea to the UK, having rescued them from the sickening dog meat farms out there.
In July, we took Greyhounds in Need to Romania to see our work, and to visit one of the public shelters. As in many countries, greyhounds are used and then abused, and the charity has since adopted two of our rescued greyhounds and re-homed them.
In August, our founder, Alison Standbridge was nominated as the UK’s Most Inspirational Woman, run by the Daily Mail. With a one page national newspaper article about Alison and our work, it was a great opportunity for raising awareness across the UK.
September, and our team could finally breathe out. Our hugest achievement to date. Schools across 7 counties in Romania included our Animal Care lesson within their primary school curriculum. Already approved by the Romanian education Ministry, following our pilot the year before, finally our hard work and huge fund-raising efforts (£12,000 was the cost) were all made worthwhile when children returned to school.
In the autumn, various members of our team flew out to Romania, and within one six week period, we had 4 separate trips. One of these was to take Wetnose Animal Aid, once of our Patrons, and one of our Ambassadors on a visit across Romania, accompanied by a film crew. We rescued dogs from the most horrific shelter, and neutering in the public shelter during our visit. Raising wider awareness across media and the UK is an essential part of our work.
Following our visit, in October, we were able to donate the full cost of a CCTV system thanks to Paws2Rescue and Wetnose Animal Aid donators, to our NGO rescuer’s shelter. Following a break-in where the animals were let out the cages, and some tragically did not survive, this was vital to protect the dogs and animals.
October was the start of one of our neuter campaigns with CityVet in Bucharest, helping to tackle the root cause of the stray problem is key, and over 125 cats and dogs were neutered.
Happy Stitches became a reality in November, and our ongoing neuter campaign in Jilava, where we intend to continue neutering until every stray and every owned pet is neutered. Obviously, this is always reliant on donations, and the campaign will stop and start as funding dictates. We are committed to continue this into 2018.
During November, our Prepare for Winter campaign started releasing donations to small rescuers – those who get no, or little financial support, some who are not on social media. We used our Prepare for Winter donations that we had been raising since August and were able to buy straw, kennels and food for so many dogs. This campaign was an absolute lifeline in the communities difficult to reach.
As the year drew to a close, our final campaign of the year in December drew in. Our enormous Christmas Shoebox appeal, in its fifth year, had been embraced by the whole country. With collection points during November from Scotland to Cornwall, the public donated Christmas shoeboxes for orphans and children, and winter food for the strays. At Big Yellow Self Storage in Sutton, we loaded up the articulated lorry – with 40 tons of donations – and as the lorry set off for Romania, we prepared to fly out there for its arrival.
The week before Christmas, we were out in Romania, and it was all about the children: we met with the Bucharest council, taking dogs into a nursery school to promote animal care and adoptions, we spent emotional hours with orphans, and drove into the country to Moldova. We met with children who have literally nothing. Absolutely nothing at all. We brought Father Christmas and tons of Christmas presents and knitted jumpers, and thousands of pounds of food from the supermarkets out there. There are no words to describe the happiness and appreciation on the sallow, skinny yet happy faces, as we were honoured to share your gifts of love.
All through the Year…
- We carried out neuter campaigns throughout the year, and across the country for the fourth year in a row, including a huge event over the weekends in March, in Constanta, campaigns in Bucharest, inside two public shelters, and our massive Happy Stitches campaign, as we continue our dreams of neutering every dog in Jilava county.
- We rescued dogs from public shelters, every month, in ones and twos, those who were on death row, and would certainly not have been alive today without our help. We had 3 large public shelter visits, where on these occasions we took out large numbers of dogs. We have taken dogs from 11 public shelters across Romania and from varying conditions. Today, almost all of these are adopted into family homes, with our focus in 2018 on those still waiting for families. It is never our intention to save a dog from a public shelter, only for it to live behind bars in a private shelter.
- Our work across Romania expanded into counties that we have not worked in over the four preceding years, and our work continues to be with 3 partner NGO’s and 30 rescuers. There are still over 2,400 dogs in our rescuers care, over 100 cats and a number of other animals.
- We have continued to lobby and speak with government in Romania at different levels, and we dream that the continual pressure from Paws2Rescue and many, many animal lovers in Romania and across the world, will one day make a real change.
- With over 400 dogs adopted into the UK, 1 into Germany and 2 in to France, our adoption programme has been a huge success. During 2017 we assessed every dog and pup in Romania, before it left Romania to travel to a family home, and this has really helped us to evaluate the characters of the dogs.
- Our rescuers took 703 dogs who were in dire need of help from the streets. As a rule, we do not take “any” dog from the street, because our own rescuers and foster homes would be full within no time, sadly. The 703 dogs range from pregnant dogs on the main road, many hit by cars and left to die, dogs seriously abused by humans – the dogs who have high vet bills, maybe never homeable, those that no one else wants to rescue, but those who are at serious risk of death.
Our work in the UK…
- Fundraising is at the heart of our work, because without the kindness of donations, we would not be able to help so many animals in such desperate need.
- We attended events across the country, including the Vegan Festival in Edinburgh, Gay Pride in Brighton and Pup Aid in London. We work tirelessly to continue to raise awareness to the plight of our dogs, and support other charities in their work too.
- Braver members of the team took on Challenges – with Nia doing a bungee jump over a river in the pitch dark – overcoming her fear of heights for those few seconds to raise £1,000 towards a neuter campaign.
- In August and October, we had visits to the UK from our rescuers. We arranged events so that adopters could come with their dogs, and we had truly memorable times with them all. It is so great for the rescuers to come over from Romania, and to meet the families who have adopted their dogs, and to be reunited with their dogs again.
- Of course, our adoptions, UK transport and homecheck teams are constantly working long hours (we are all volunteers), running the foster and adoption of dogs, moving dogs into their forever homes, answering phone calls and dealing with challenges. It is a huge, and rewarding part of our work here in the UK. We have adopted over 2,000 dogs into family homes over the past 5 years, and 400 in 2017. Many of these dogs have been rescued by our team from the most horrific situations.
How do we fundraise?
- Our Facebook Paws2Dream auction is a big source of fundraising for us, as members donate items to be bid on, and we simply pay the postage costs.
- Small monthly direct debits from supporters: every penny, every pound, really does add up, and helps us to continue to support our rescuers with vet bills and food for the dogs.
- Social media appeals.
- In 2017, and with a huge cost attaching to our education campaign, we asked 100 people to raise £100 in our first PawsofSummer appeals. It was a great success, and it was wonderful to see so many supporters who we see as the Paws family, taking part.
- Supporters or adopters holding their own fundraising events – from coffee mornings, to parachute jumps, every single event is a huge help. Many a weekend our team have been selling at car boot sales to help raise donations.
- It was truly fantastic to receive a few 4-figure donations in 2017, but other than these, fundraising for our day to day work in Romania, and all our projects, came from the above.
Summarising, we have made huge step forwards with our key education and neuter programmes in 2017 and in raising awareness for the dogs. Our team are all volunteers, and we work tirelessly, every day … because these dogs are in our hearts and souls. We will continue to speak out for those who have no voice.