We have chosen to focus on a spay campaign in Romania as it is one of the main countries where the policies are poorly written and animal cruelty is high.
With the collapse of communism 30 years ago, Romania has almost half of its population living in rural areas, and people are poorly educated. Some dogs are left to roam, or are chained, and most likely as not mistreated and left uncared for, as owners rarely have the financial means or empathy to see a vet. As a result of this, dogs are not spayed or neutered, and are left to reproduce at their own will.
If the mother is a stray, that leads to the increase in the stray population of that area. If the mother is in the care of a villager, any pups are simply killed, abandoned in inhumane conditions, or dumped on the outskirts of larger cities, in hopes that someone else will care for them. There are many charities that attempt to find foster for these souls, but fees are high, and donations are low (more facts below).
Here are the results of our campaigns so far:
Complete – 6 stray dogs spayed thanks to our friends at Wave Veterinary (Constanta, Romania) and a kind donation of £150.
In Progress – almost 50 stray animals will be spayed as a result of being awarded a £1000 grant by the Co-Op.
More on the stray animals situation in Romania:
There are over a million stray dogs in Romania, which means there is a stray dog for every 18 people living in this country. Most of these dogs seek shelter in crowded areas where they can rummage through rubbish to find some food. Sometimes people take them in, but the majority of those who have the luxury of owning a yard don’t have the patience, time or will to train these dogs, and their quick fix is to chain them to a post, for them to guard the house and bark when an intruder approaches. Some will hand the animal into the care of a shelter or another person, and some will simply abandon them on the streets. Stray animals are often mistreated, abused, tortured, run over by vehicles, poisoned or simply die as they cannot find food or shelter.
Sometimes, kind souls who don’t have the space or means to take stray dogs in feed them, but without constant care, these dogs remain untamed. The lack of education and empathy amongst part of Romania’s population leads to animal abuse, in hopes of driving these poor souls away from their temporary shelter – most often, animals respond by attacking people who wish them well.
On average, 15,000 people end up in the hospital yearly needing care for a wound caused by a stray animal which they have provoked. The media in Romania loves a good story, and as such, massive hate campaigns drive people to call the local dog catchers in an attempt to solve the stray dog problems. Many animal shelters subsidised by local authorities employ a 14-day adoption period, followed by euthanasia, to make room for more stray dogs in their inhumane, cold cages.
Animal welfare activists are struggling to get many of these dogs out in time, but due to the costs associated with this (between £40 and £150 per dog released, depending on the shelter), and lack of private shelters and funding, they only manage to rescue a few souls, out of which some die soon after as a result of a life of malnutrition and abuse. This is not sustainable in the long run, and we wish to invest this grant into preventing all of this from happening.
Properly verified statistics can be hard to find and are open to interpretation; however the European Society of Dog and Animal Welfare (ESDAW), estimate that there are some 2 million stray dogs in Romania (http://www.esdaw.eu/stray-animals-by-country.html).