First of all, I am no angel on earth, no hero, no super woman; I am only a decent human being who had the misfortune to be born in a country where cruelty and greed are the only two laws that ever apply. I have to thank my grandmother for my love for animals and my parents for raising me believing common sense is the best thing to guide my life. Sure, Romanians may consider me a fool for it, but I don't care, this is who I am.
It all started in 2005 when I witnessed a small mother dog taking care of her 13 puppies, on a terrible winter. The snow was bigger than the puppies. I don't think I have ever seen such dedication in a mother dog since then. I helped them get through that winter best I could. I was alone, had no animal lover friends who could help me and my family though I've gone mad. They grew up and I loved them dearly. The next summer I woke up one morning and find them all dead, poisoned. None of them survived. The terrible suffering they had to endure that night, each one alone in his suffering, betrayed by everyone...including me, for sleeping...it will always haunt me. I will always remember them. Since then, I always wake up during the night and listen, terrorized by the feeling I'll find them dead again. People use poison rather often to solve their issues with stray dogs. No one will ever testify about it, even if they know who did it.
I continued my work with stray dogs since then. First, on a smaller scale, being alone. I fed them and gave them medicine, as I knew best. I had to witness puppies dieing of mange and distemper. Worst time of my life. In the summer of 2006, I decided to gather people who I knew were also animal lovers and started an NGO called "My dog". The mayor of that time killed stray dogs in the most illegal and cruel manner. In the same year we dicovered the blessings of sterilization and were helped by an NGO funded by Robert Smith. We tried to come to an understanding with the Mayor, but he wouldn't hear of it; called us names, yelled histericaly that he will exterminate all dogs within 6 months. He suggested I find a husband and make some kids and told my right hand at that time, a nice young man, to help me achieve that...in a public meeting in his office. All that being said, we lost all hope of ever working with him towards the resolving of the stray problem in Moreni, in a humane and efficient manner. For 5 years we were at war! He killed dogs, we got him fined by the Food Authority or by the Environment Authority or called the local media on him. But it was never enough, he always rose from under our actions and got right back on killing stray dogs. In 2008, right after my honeymoon, a supposedly "rabid fox" visit our town and the next one; 1500 dogs were killed then, leaving us broken inside. We finally managed to stop them, but the damage was already done. I am positive there was never any rabid fox. We continued spaying as much dogs as we could with our own funds. We were always looking for more money to save as much unwanted puppies as we could from this life of torture.
2010 came with a shock for us. The public shelter was opened. Dog catchers were working before that, but the dogs were sent to an illegal enclosure that used to be a big farm. We managed to closed that down, but now a new and improved shelter was opened. At least that is what they said. It had no medical care, no running water or elecricity, no inside space to keep the dogs in bad weather, only 2x2 outside kennels. The horrid conditions were the same as in every public shelter in Romania, yet they were authorized by the Food Authority; don't ask me why...We had to make a huge effort to keep them alive in there, went almost everyday to feed them, take water and hay, give them medicine. One by one, we fall broken to the ground to see so much suffering. Leaving them there, screaming...they killed hundread of them, inspite all our efforts. They just disapeared from one day to the next and they always answered our questions: "What dogs? How can you prove there were dogs in here?". They told that to our faces after being there every day witnessing our struggle. We made videos everyday, filming the dogs' faces and the number of the kennels, to prove they were there. Nobody cared. We made a lot of complaints to everyone who would have the authority to help, no one ever gave us the time of day. Until last year, when we were helped by a great animal activist in Romania, who always helped us when we asked, Carmen Arsene; finally, the shelter is closed down til they improve the conditions. HOPEFULLY, NEVER!
2011 came with a huge surprise: an appeal to Nancy Janes brought us hope when we thought there wasn't any. She immediately sent her team of doctors who have helped us spay 400 animals since then. And, if we are lucky, the free spay/neuter campaigns will continue in Moreni with the help of wonderful people who donates to Romania Animal Rescue. Thank you for that!
Since 2005 I have fed, fostered, find homes in Romania and abroad, provide medical care, spay (organize the campaigns and found sponsors for almost 1000 animals, mostly strays), went to over 20 protests at the Romanian Parliament (for the national sterilization law), fight the authorities, been in public TV debates and all that because I love animals. Dogs (these are mainly the subjects of our work) are worth every minute of what I've done. I am at peace with myself!
2012 started with a special project, our dog sanctuary called "Happy Paws"; we rescued 40 dogs from the streets of Moreni and we are doing our best to find good homes for them. This is what Happy Paws is all about, a temporary home, where dogs are helped to get back on their feet and learn people can be their best friends. A dog never leaves Happy Paws without being healthy, spayed, friendly and a bit spoiled, I confess. We always find time to cuddle with them and to show them their sad past is all behind them. I struggle to find as many good homes as I can for them, but I am sad to see only few of Happy Paws' residents are adopted. Maybe that is because I never promote a dog for adoption while that dog is sick, or skinny, I always give them as much time as they need to recover both phisically and mentally. But that is my choice, Happy Paws' residents are only meant to have great homes; so I will never jeopardize their lives just to get ridd of them. This is our policy.
I fully support everyone's effort to spay and neuter as much animals in Romania as it is possible, this is our only hope. I am fully aware that this is what we should focus our attention on; but I will never deny help to an animal in need. Of course, no one can save all of them, but I can find extreme satisfaction in knowing I have rescued and find homes for those few lucky ones that would otherwise be dead now.