2022 began with a love story: Dylan was an old hunting dog, found as a skinny stray and condemned to death in a “kill” shelter. Blinded by beatings, half-starved and abandoned by his humans, poor old Dylan had given up hope….until one of our adopters fell in love with him. Look at him now!
Paws2Rescue is staffed by a team of 43 volunteers working behind the scenes in a variety of roles, and we are always thinking of ways to “give back”. So to show our appreciation, we set up our Team Member of the Month initiative, rewarding the people without whom we couldn’t function. We also sent seeds to every team member in preparation for our annual team sunflower growing competition!
Our Student Vets
Did you know we run a scholarship programme to fund the training of new vets in Romania? Our highly sought – after veterinary scholarship is awarded to students who demonstrate both the skills and the desire to help stray animals. This year, the work of our seven Paws2Rescue vet scholars has continued to go from strength to strength as our students were invited to work with an international animal research project in Columbia. During their time working at the National University of Colombia’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, they identified the need for an oxygen concentrator machine which we were only too pleased to donate:
Visit to Romania
Despite the ongoing challenges of Covid, we made the first of seven visits to Romania. In January, we braved the sub- zero temperatures and rescued, among others, this boy from the cold. the harsh romanian winters are an icy hell for strays and the pads of this poor dog’s paws had frozen solid.
Mission22 Neuter campaign
February saw the launch of our first social project in rural Romania. These communities often suffer extreme economic deprivation and when incomes are so low, a visit to the vets is a luxury few can afford. Working in conjunction with Veterinary University Spiru Haret in Bucharest, we announced our ground- breaking project in these areas to bring together medical education and social spay and neuter projects. Alongside the benefits to these communities, our project will enable our vet students to put lecture hall theory into practice and gain an in- depth understanding of the needs of animals in rural Romania.
Otto the Therapet
Back home in the UK, we were thrilled to learn that one of our adopted dogs, Otto, passed his assessment to become a Therapet. When fully trained, he will visit hospital, hospices, prisons and support people with mental health challenges. After one year, Otto can then go on to visit schools, lending a helping paw to children with special needs. It is wonderful to see what our dogs can achieve given the love and time they deserve. Who says our dogs aren’t the best?!
Pennie’s Happy Ever After
Mistreated, abused, neglected and abandoned animals are a familiar sight to all of us at Paws, but a sight we will never grow used to. And when we received a harrowing image of beautiful Pennie, with a deep wound where a chain had scarred her neck, out hearts broke a little more. So seeing dogs like Pennie fully recovered and loving life with a new family reminds us time and time again why we do what we do.
Our UK team returned to Romania taking desperately needed blankets and coats for horses. Despite the snow and Covid fears, we were delighted that people still brought their animals to our neuter campaigns:
War in Ukraine
At the end of February came the shocking news of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. With Ukrainian Paws team members plus neuter campaigns running in monasteries on the Romania -Ukraine border, we had to do what we could to help. We immediately set up a 5- phase plan of action (please ask if you would like a copy of this document).The monastery in Sighet prepared hundreds of beds as the refugees poured over the border, and we travelled there to lend a helping hand and bring donations from our supporters.
Battersea Dogs & Cats Home
Battersea agreed to support our neuter campaigns in Ortisoara and Moldova Noua for a second year and we would like to say a massive, heartfelt THANK YOU. Without Battersea’s support in these two rural areas, we would not be able to continue our neuter campaigns in the community all year round.
Ashley – Our Superhero
Our personal superhero, 12- year- old Ashley Owens, is sleeping every single night in a tent until he raises £30,000 to help us to finish building our Sanctuary in western Romania. He has already slept in his tent for over a year and raised in excess of £12,000. What an inspiration and huge advocate for stray dogs he is. Ashley really is our hero! Meanwhile, over in Romania the foundations of our Sanctuary were being laid.
Donations for Ukraine
We asked for donations of animal crates to help those fleeing the invasion with their pets, and our supporters didn’t let us down. Thanks to Big Yellow Self Storage and our transport team, Zoo Taxi, we were able to take them to the Romanian border where our friends Alex and Raimo and people from the monastery travelled into Ukraine every two weeks.
DEFRA implemented an import ban in April, suspending the rehoming of dogs to the UK from several countries, including Romania. While we were unable to continue our adoptions, the team focused on our primary goals of neutering and animal welfare education in Romania … while we focused on the team. With 43 volunteers, each with a specific role assigned to them, we continued our monthly zoom calls, and used various charity partners to help with training in various soft skills for every team member. Seeing our team grow in knowledge and passion means the world.
Helping Olga and her family
Like everyone, we were horrified by the news footage coming out of Ukraine. That’s when we learned about the plight of Olga who, along with her family, was stuck in Odesa in the thick of the invasion. Our UK team made detailed plans to get Olga, her mum, children and dog out of the stricken city and safely into Romania. We returned to Ukraine – and we did it! While we were there, we also took some time out to visit a shelter and show some rescued pets some love.
The Sanctuary Grows
As the weather warmed, we were lucky enough to visit our Sanctuary in western Romania to see progress as the building started to rise from the ground. We have to build when we have the funds, and as we only have three workers, we know the project will take time. But we are so proud of what has been achieved so far, and with the continued support of our Paws family, we will get there! As inevitably happenes, our joy at seeing the Sanctuary progress was dampened by the horror of meeting newly rescued dogs. These shocking images represent just a fraction of the cases of abandonment and neglect our rescuers in Romania encounter every week. This is why a Sanctuary is so important. At least we can take comfort in knowing these dogs are now safely under our protection.
Meanwhile, our lovely team member Yoshi flew to our international project in Peru, where we sponsored over 600 dogs to be neutered by our Paws2Rescue team over there. Paws2Rescue might not be the biggest rescue, but we are truly one of the hardest working charities on the ground. No matter where in the world stray animals need our help, we will do our best to be there.
Supported by Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, our neuter campaign in Ortisaora saw a vet clinic full of cats waiting to be spayed. Preventing unwanted litters from being born is at the heart of what we do, and we work towards a time when every animal is a wanted animal. Sometimes it is hard to believe that we have already neutered over 14,000 animals – tackling the root cause of the stray dog populations has been and will continue to be one of our key focuses. Our community welfare campaigns have also helped to save hundreds of lives. And we are proud to support the monasteries across Romania in our neuter campaigns too, a partnership that we hold close to our hearts.
In the UK our team was busy at the Big Yellow Self Storage unit, where donations were flooding in from across the country, ready to be loaded into our articulated lorry heading from Sutton to Ukraine. Your amazing donations poured in for weeks – every bag of dog food, every second- hand bed , every crate– stacked on pallets and ready to go. And alll 12 TONNES arrived safely in Ukraine!
As the DEFRA importation ban continued to impact our operations in Romania, we brought four dogs over from our friend Hanan in Cairo. The dogs flew from Egypt to Paris and travelled on to the UK where they are now all living the dream in their new family homes.
Our neuter campaigns picked up pace in Ortisoara, Moldova Noua, Harlau, and other locations where we oversaw several small one- off weekend campaigns…and finally in Ukraine where we committed to neutering a thousand dogs between July and September!
We were in Romania to prepare for the launch of our Mission22 neuter campaign, along with the vets and vet scholars from the Bucharest hospital.
Meanwhile, over in South America, Yoshi travelled to Peru and neutered 644 dogs in our campaign in the shanty towns.
Visit to Romania
In Romania, two rural neuter campaigns went ahead with a 17 strong vet team! It was a very busy two weeks, and our UK team was there helping to collect animals in the community and educating the children who came to the campaign. Helping the next generation to understand how to treat animals with compassion not cruelty remains an integral part of our work in rural communities. People were so keen to neuter their cats and dogs that they brought them in wheelbarrows, baskets, and even on bikes. And no matter where we went, we were always in supermarkets filling trolleys with cat and dog food!
While in Romania, as always, we spent time with rescuers. Whether they save dogs, cats or horses, we want to help.
One of our amazing adopters ran 100km raising £900 for the dogs in Romania. Just one example of the many fantastic and kind individuals who have undertaken challenges to raise money for us this year. We understand the difficulties people are facing in the current economic climate and are always moved by and grateful for the unswerving kindness and generosity of our supporters.
We were so proud to hold two dog shows in Sutton, Surrey in partnership with local council community and park groups. Our lovely Mayor came to both and helped to judge. Each event was a huge hit in the community, and we cannot wait to do this again in 2023 when we can talk to our local communities about the plight of stray animals overseas and, of course, have fun!
September was also a time to finalise planning, and with our 2023 project plans almost complete, we turned to our Christmas Shoebox campaign launch and planning. And we still fitted in time for our team Zoom meetings, bringing on board new volunteers and starting sales of our 2023 calendars before we flew into October!
Back to Romania
We found a few days to take a quick trip to visit some of the rescued dogs and to see the progress in the building of the Sanctuary and Vet Clinic. As well as visiting the rescuers, we always take time to feed the stray dogs as well. While we may not be able to find homes for them, at least we can make sure their bellies are full. We also visited the government run “shelter” – a depressing experience, made bearable as we were able to reserve a few dogs to take out.
Sadly, we noticed that many puppies were still being born so we helped our rescuer to prepare for a 3-day neuter campaign in the local area: And while none of our facilities could be described as “posh”, they are always clean, professional and our team works incredibly hard on behalf of the animals.
Work continued on the Sanctuary, although our own unsuccessful attempts to assist with the construction meant we were more of a hindrance than help! We’ll leave it to the professionals for now.
Christmas Shoebox Appeal
Our 10th Christmas Shoebox Appeal was now well under way with the lorry booked for the end of November. The team put in long, long hours at the Big Yellow Self Storage unit in Sutton, checking shoeboxes, loading them onto pallets and sorting through donations of warm second- hand clothes.
Our Christmas appeal is so appreciated by the children in Romania and Moldova, in the orphanages, foster homes, hospital units and rural areas – where otherwise Christmas would be celebrated with nothing more than an orange. These children who have so little are so, so grateful for the kind donations made by our supporters.
Animal Star Awards 2022
It’s so heart-warming to be able to end the year with some amazing news! We are over the moon to announce we have won the 2022 Best International Rescue Award at the prestigious Animal Star Awards.
Our founder, Alison Standbridge, was also presented with a Special Recognition Award in honour of her tireless work on behalf of oppressed animals in Romania and beyond. Alison is a true animal star and we couldn’t be more proud of her!
Final Romania Visit of 2022
As temperatures plummeted across Europe, we made our final visit of the year to Romania to distribute an incredible 750 shoeboxes filled with presents. The children and families were overwhelmed by the kindness shown to them by people they had never met, and the added gifts of warm clothes, coats, firewood and food were equally appreciated.
On her way home, Alison, aka Santa Paws, raised a whopping £400 by travelling from Romania to London in her dressing gown on Christmas Eve!
The end of 2022 brought the long-awaited lifting of the DEFRA ban, and we were delighted to finally be able to bring two vans full of vulnerable dogs from the harsh winter in Romania to loving homes in the UK. Senior dogs in particular struggle in the sub-zero temperatures and many sadly do not survive the long, cold months. Despite the restrictions, we managed to rehome 174 dogs and cats in 2022. Knowing we are giving these old souls a happy ever after was the perfect end to our year.
Our Vet, Social and Education Services Clinic
The Romanian government recently announced that neuter campaigns in unauthorised premises are to be prohibited. While we are bewildered by this short -sighted decision, we are not daunted and have responded by redoubling our efforts to get our social vet hospital and neuter clinic in southern Romania operational by February.
We have already prepared a site and purchased a five building cabin. This will be staffed by our vet students who will qualify in 2023. Of course, buying the clinic building is only part of the story, and our fundraising efforts over the next few months will focus on kitting the surgery out with the necessary equipment. Although we are not officially up and running yet, interest in the clinic has spread among the local community and we have already had animals brought in for our help (which, of course, we were happy to provide).
Even as we settle into the New Year, we know we will have another hectic twelve months in 2023. Our priority in the first quarter will be equipping the new clinic, and our fundraising team is already busy devising new schemes to meet the cost. Our first is the Helping Hands inititative: supporters make a donation in exhange for a handprint featuring their dog’s name on the clinic wall. Please keep an eye out for more ways to help coming soon!
Finally, we would like to say a huge THANK YOU to all our supporters. Without your generosity and compassion, we would not be able to help the many, many animals who need us.