Updated: Nov 14, 2018
I am so excited to share the latest addition to our household; his cute little nose is resting against my leg as I write this. He is the most adorable little dog, with a humongous personality and sweet wagging tail. We have named him Oscar. I am keen to share his story to highlight the plight of abandoned dogs in the hope that more animals can be rescued, in this country and all over the world.
As August was ‘Adopt a Shelter Dog Month’, I have seen a lot of articles that have talked about how many dogs are forced to breed as often as possible, and kept under cruel conditions in puppy farms. By choosing to adopt, you are avoiding these organisations and supporting animal welfare in the process. I knew that by adopting a dog, I could offer them a warm and safe home where they could learn to be a dog again! Some have terrible pasts, and have been abused, abandoned or left to fend for themselves on the streets. However, I wasn’t prepared for how heart-breaking the stories would be coming from Romania.
Oscar's mother, Juno, was found roaming the streets of Dragasani in the freezing cold winter four years ago by Irina Nebela, who has rescued several hundred animals that have been abandoned in Romania. "She was hungry and skinny and matted." Irina explained, " I took her to the vet to check that she was okay and not pregnant." The vet confirmed that she was well enough to be taken home, so she was taken to Irina's shelter. Irina lives over 30 km away from Dragasani, where Juno was found. "I didn't know at that time, but Juno had already given birth. She was very restless - that's when it hit me, she might have puppies somewhere!”
The following day Irina took Juno back to the city, on a extendable lead. When Irina let Juno loose, she rushed to a pile of garbage that was dumped at a street corner. There was a cardboard box there; inside were three very cold, hungry puppies, overjoyed to see their mum again. "I was so happy I found them, so I rushed them to the warmth of my car. Carefully searching that I had not missed another puppy, we went home."
Irina Neblea runs a small rescue charity in Valcea County, Romania, caring for over 200 animals, including roughly 180 dogs and puppies. To animal lovers like Irina, the stray dog situation is unbearable and she has devoted her life to caring for as many strays and abused animals as she can physically manage - usually more!
Sadly, weeks later, the third of the litter, Polux, died of Parvovirus (a highly infectious virus which attacks cells in a dog's intestines and stops them from being able to absorb vital nutrients). Unfortunately, this is a too common story for puppies in Romania. Oscar and his brother, Kipp, thankfully were doing well in Irina's and Juno's care.
Oscar’s story, and photos of him in Romania, are equal parts adorable and heart-breaking. Romania's huge problems with stray animals arose in the 1980s, when thousands of houses were demolished and replaced with apartment blocks, as part of an urbanisation plan. This caused many people to abandon their dogs, cats and other animals as they moved into smaller apartments.
In Romania, stray dogs are at risk of poisoning, starvation, and abuse on a daily basis. In public ‘kill’ shelters, where the dog catchers take the dogs they find on the street, they are kept in overcrowded, filthy and diseased conditions. Dogs are starved and it is not uncommon for them to eat each other, as they are driven to madness. Those that survive after 14 days are killed by the vet, sometimes they do not even use anaesthetic and poison the dogs instead.
Irina posted a heart-breaking message on Facebook. She was under incredible pressure as the Romanian authorities had threatened to euthanise her animals. She desperately appealed for support to help find homes for those dogs suitable for adoption.
My mother had adopted Oscar's brother, Kipp, so it felt right that he should come here to be reunited with him. As soon as I saw the pictures of Oscar's little face, it was love at first sight. I was incredibly concerned about the ordeal of transporting him to the U.K., but knew he needed a fresh start with a pack who could care for him. Having been neutered and received various inoculations, Oscar travelled across Europe for three days, arriving in England dirty, extremely exhausted and scared.
To see his sweet little face and wagging tail now, you could never guess at the desperate plight he faced as a puppy. Oscar has settled so well with my two dachshunds. He has become more confident on walks, enjoying the English countryside and he adores the children. He has such a big personality for a small dog, and spends his days following me from room to room with such a sweet dedication, it is impossible not to adore him.
If you are considering getting a dog for your home, please consider rescuing one. Deciding to rescue an abandoned dog is an act of human kindness that gives another living being a chance for a new beginning and a caring loving home.
Irina's charity runs solely from donations received from her fundraising on Facebook and people who adopt her dogs. I can't wait to share more of Oscar's journey with you. In the meantime, if you would like to know more about Irina's charity, Irina's Sheltered Hearts, here is the Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/Irina's-Sheltered-Hearts-Rescue-(Romania)-535950286460893
Louisa & Oscar