If you are here, it means you have already considered adopting a(nother) dog. You’ve made the right decision, a dog will bring a lot of joy into your life, while teaching you important lessons about love, compassion and responsibility.

This section will take you through understanding why this happens. It is very important for you to understand that dogs are not toys you can just throw away once you or your children get bored with them.

They are sentient beings who feel love and form attachments, but who are also affected by fear and loneliness. If all of this is very clear to you, than take a seat behind your desktop and enjoy the reading!.

 A dog will bring a lot of joy into your life
One of our colleagues, Anca, playing with the dogs from our shelter

Frequently Asked Questions Before the Adoption Process

Is adopting a dog from Romania expensive?

First of all, you need to figure out what you are looking for: a couch potato, an active dog to go hiking with you, a playful one for your kids to play and so on? Based on your wishes, we can recommend what we feel would be the perfect dog for you. We can also make videos with their reaction around children, cats, other dogs, men, older people etc, so may have an idea about what to expect.

How do I choose the right dog for my family?

First of all, you need to figure out what you are looking for: a couch potato, an active dog to go hiking with you, a playful one for your kids to play and so on? Based on your wishes, we can recommend what we feel would be the perfect dog for you. We can also make videos with their reaction around children, cats, other dogs, men, older people etc, so may have an idea about what to expect.

How do I get my dog home?

After we go through the initial discussions and you had a homecheck and the response is positive, we talk about the best way to get your dog home. He/she may travel by plane or by bus, depending where you are from and how much money you want to spend on transportation. There are lots of companies who can bring your dog safe to you.

What do I do if things don’t go well after his/her arrival?

The first thing you need to remember is that you need to be patient. Your dog may feel confused and disoriented by all the changes in his/her life, it is normal. If, however, you feel you can’t handle the dog or have changed your mind about the adoption, please contact the international rescue that came to visit you, they will take the dog into custody. Do not, for any reason, give the dog to any third party we or the local rescue haven’t agreed upon previously.

How do I know I can trust your organization?

We have been working with animals for the past 13 years and have handled lots of critical situations. We are responsible for over 1000 successful adoptions in countries such as: UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, France, U.S.A. We work with renowned international animal welfare organizations who can attest to our good name.

How do I know my dog is healthy?

Before travel, your dog will have the complete scheme of vaccination, will be wormed and treated against ticks and fleas. There are also rapid tests which we recommend for your dog to take before leaving, because it helps us discover if he/she is infected with some of the most common diseases in Romania (some don’t show any signs in the early stages of infection). The international pet passport will be checked at customs and any dog that doesn’t have all the necessary health requirements is not allowed to travel abroad.

What can I do to improve the chances that my adopted dog adapts to my home?

First of all, being completely honest about your expectation and living arrangements is crucial when thinking about adopting a dog. Based on this information we can advise you what dog to choose for you and your family. The person who does the home check may recommend what, if anything, needs to be changed around your house or backyard in order for your dog to be safe and feel at home.

Why do I need to agree to have a home check before the adoption?

Having your home checked by someone from the local rescue we work with means an animal lover will come at your place and have a chat about a number of things which will help him/her understand what sort of owner you will be for our dog. He/she may recommend you do a few changes around your house or backyard for the dog’s safety. Bottom line, we can’t agree to send a dog over to you, if you refuse to have a home check.

How can having a dog improve your life

In the following sections we will pass through the most important reasons why you should consider adopting a dog.

We are living in an extremely stressful era, where everything around you seems to be out to get you. Deadlines, traffic, school projects, a jealous coworker, date night with your spouse while solving a million other problems at work and at home, losing weight, not getting that important promotion, social stigma and so on.

At the end of the day, one starts to wonder what they could do to have some of that positive energy everyone is talking about.

After all, we seem so wrapped up in pumping our bodies with cortisol (the stress hormone) 24/7, that we end up living in the “fight or flight” mode and miss out on the most important things in life: love, joy, connection with people who share your interests, being able to feel happy over the little things around you, friendship, compassion for those who have it worse than you.

The good news is that a dog can help you take the pressure off when you feel stressed by the events happening in your life and bring you closer to simple things that makes a person happy.

But what is the role dogs play in people’s lives? What were they domesticated for and has that relationship between humans and dogs changed over time?

“The domestication of dogs was one of the most extraordinary events in human history” according to Brian Hare, an evolutionary anthropologist and also the director of the Duke University Canine Cognition Center.

Whilst the initial action of domestication of wolves remains a mystery as to when or why, we do know that over time, the connection between us and dogs has evolved in such a manner, that it actually gets our brains to go in sync.

Studies have shown that when staring in each other’s eyes lovingly, a dog and his/her owner’s brains secrete oxytocin, the hormone normally associated with maternal bonding and trust.

The extraordinary connection between people and their dogs makes us believe that if you’ve never had a dog companion, you’ve missed out on one very important aspect of life: unconditional love.

Dogs seem to have this figured out and willing to teach us the lesson of how to love each other regardless our differences.

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You get a better chance of fighting anxiety and depression with a dog by your side.

Depression is a mental illness affecting millions of people all around the world. Being isolated is one of the things that can make matters worse and here is where a dog can really help people suffering from depression or anxiety attacks.

Over time, studies have pointed out that dogs can reduce stress, depression and anxiety, fight loneliness, encourage physical exercise and connecting with other people. Having a dog has proved to aleviate mental health issues such as panic attacks, by elevating the release of oxytocin and dopamine.

You get a better chance of fighting anxiety and depression with a dog by your side
You get a better chance of fighting anxiety and depression with a dog by your side
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Your health status is dramatically improved by living with one or more dogs.

Playing with your dogs is shown to lower your blood pressure and reduce the release of cortisol, the stress hormone. Also, owning one or more dog means they need exercise, the bigger the dog, the more exercise they need on a regular basis.

Research is showing that having a schedule of going outside and talking long walks with your dogs or just taking them for a stroll in the nearby park has a positive outcome on the sleep patterns and overall health.

Your health status is dramatically improved by living with one or more dogs
Your health status is dramatically improved by living with one or more dogs
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They improve our ability of bonding with other people

Taking your dog to the local park gives you the opportunity to start conversations with other pet owners. Especially for older people, retired or widowers, having a dog means they don’t feel so lonely, by simply going on the afternoon walk in the park, meeting other pet owners from the neighborhood and talking to them face-to-face.

If you live in the countryside, you can even join groups of people walking their dogs in the nearby fields or into the woods.

People seem to ease up on each other if at least one dog is present and bonding tends to come more easily. Pet owners trust each other when it comes to human qualities, such as compassion, responsibility, respect and care for others, because one can’t own a dog and not master these important lessons.

Dogs improve our ability of bonding with other people
Dogs improve our ability of bonding with other people
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They offer unconditional love

Perhaps the most important thing that dogs teach us is how to love unconditionally. This lesson is especially hard to learn otherwise, because of the social stigma going on in this day and age, presented to us at an early age, as early as kindergarten.

Whether we are talking about being bullied at school or feeling unaccepted and unappreciated at work, having trouble finding a romantic partner or being trapped in a toxic relationship, we all need to feel loved and accepted.

Because humans are social beings, who have it programmed into their DNA to stay close to other people, otherwise be killed by the Early Age’s big carnivores, we feel like big losers if we don’t belong to a group.

But being respected and socially acceptable can’t happen without the concept of self-esteem and this is built around the idea that you are responsible for another being and you are able to take care of them and of yourself.

They offer unconditional love
Anda Popescu, one of the founding members of Happy Dogs, with a dog from our shelter

Loving the people around you may come only once you understand the full notion of loving yourself unconditionally. Dogs are excellent teachers; if they consider you worthy of being loved, it must mean that you are lovable. And they love everyone!

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They teach children to be responsible for someone other than themselves. Dogs are not toys!

If you think about adopting a dog and have young children, you may want to consider the responsibility issue. Is the dog meant to be a companion for your child(ren)? Who will be responsible with walking and feeding him/her?

Of course, older children and teenagers can be of more help, but it is a good idea to create tasks according to age.

Younger children may help with simpler things, such as helping to brush the dog, alert an adult when their water bowl is empty or help store the harness and leash. But this does not mean they won’t feel as an important family member with a role in taking care of the much beloved family dog. On the contrary, these simple chores will get them used to being considerate about someone else’s needs besides their own. And we know that all children need to learn this important lesson.

Older children may help with feeding the dog, putting away his/her toys, help walking and exercising the dog and even training him/her. Getting them involved into the day-to-day caring about their dog/s help them learn the much needed lesson of taking responsibility and help straighten the bond between them.

Dogs teach children to be responsible for someone other than themselves
Dogs teach children to be responsible for someone other than themselves

If you ask any adult who grew up having a dog, they will often talk about their pets calling them their most cherished friends, because dogs never question their owners’ qualities or intentions. Moreover, your dog will always see you as the superhero you always thought you were as a child.

Teaching your children that pets aren’t toys is a very important aspect of owning an animal. While dogs can be very good companions for your kids, they must learn that owning a dog is nothing like owning a cool toy that you can brake and put back together or toss away once they get bored with it.

Dogs are sentient beings who react to fear, pain and any type of aggression, even if it is considered just a cute thing your toddler does in front of a camera. They may bite out of fear or being constantly annoyed, so pay very much attention when choosing the right type of dog for your family.

Please, inform the rescue about your situation at home! Concealing information regarding the age of your children and weather they understand that dogs have to be treated with respect may lead to tragedy!

Dogs feel fear and love
Dogs feel fear and love

Conclusion

Pets can really improve everyone’s life, as shown above. Having someone greet you every evening regardless of your social status, age, gender, weight, political orientation is such an important argument as in why you should adopt a dog, we consider we’ve made our point. However, should you choose to stay and continue the reading, we will offer you all the information needed to help you decide to adopt a dog rescued by our organization.

Saving them has taken us a lot of resources and it came with great sacrifice. They mean the world to us, so please don’t take this matter lightly! Adopting one of our dogs may turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to you. And it certainly is their chance to a happily ever after.

Why chose to adopt a shelter dog and not to buy a dog

When deciding to bring a dog into your life, we like to think that you will see them as family members and not as things you posses and can dispose of. So, who buys their relatives over the internet or from the relative shop?

Moreover, many countries, such as Romania, have a big problem with the overpopulation of stray animals, so there are millions of dogs waiting for their chance to have a loving family. Why deny their happiness and pay lots of money just for looks, while keeping an illegal trade market going?

Adopt. Don’t shop! is the way to go and it is a campaign supported by many celebrities and public figures all over the world. So, choose to be cool and save lives in the process!

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Your wish of having a purebred dog keeps the illegal breeders on the pet market

A lot of illegal breeders make loads of money by breeding dogs while keeping them in horrible conditions. The females are used to bare litter after litter, until they’re no longer useful, after which they are abandoned or killed.

These puppy mills are often discovered to be horrible shacks where mothers and puppies are kept on dark, wet, cold floors, living in their own feces, with food just enough to survive, with no medical care or human affection. It’s heartbreaking!

So, the next time you are looking online for a purebred Yorkie or a Pug, just think before choosing to pay for your pet hundreds of Euros/ Dollars and take a look at our dogs. Sure, they may not look anything like the breed your heart desired, but you can be sure that our dogs are properly vaccinated, healthy and spayed.

Buying a puppy from one of these illegal mills may prove to be the worst decision you’ve ever made, because they may already be sick and they end up dying into your child’s arms. Often times, these illegal breeders forge the vaccine stamps on the dog’s health book, making it look like your new puppy is healthy and vaccinated, when in fact, that puppy has never been seen by a veterinarian.

Working close with our local veterinary practice helped us learn about the illegal puppy mills methods when it comes to fooling their clients. Sadly, most people who buy purebred puppies lose their pets to Parvovirus, a deadly disease common to young unvaccinated dogs.

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The shelters are waiting for you. Why breed when there are millions of dogs waiting to be adopted?

Hundred of thousands of dogs are waiting in shelters in Romania, only. Some of them have been waiting for more than 5 years, some have never known anything, but living behind bars and some of them die before even having anyone show any interest in them.

We know that there are simply not enough homes for all the animals waiting in shelters all over the world. That is why a big part of our activity is finding funds for organizing monthly free spay/neuter campaigns for stray animalsor for those owned by poor people.

However, we are set on finding as many loving homes for our dogs as possible. We believe that honesty, transparency, excellent communication skills and our credibility amongst international organizations make us worthy of your trust when it comes to adopting a family member.

Also, a very important aspect is the fact that if you choose to adopt a dog from the shelter, you save another one, by helping us secure more space and resources for other animals in need. There were times when we simply had to say no because we had nowhere to take in a dog and keep him/her safe.

Millions of shelter dogs are waiting for a caring family
Millions of shelter dogs are waiting for a caring family

The thing we fear the most is overlooking the safety and the quality of life of our animals, when trying to save more than we can handle. This is our most important rule, and we stick by it, no matter how much it pains us not to be able to save all those in need. We know that we can’t save all animals, but for those we do help, their world is saved.

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Give a second chance to an abandoned pet

We don’t know what is worse, being born unwanted and never knowing what a family life is all about, or enjoying all that comes with having an owner and losing it all the same. Many of the animals we find on the street look like they had an owner at some point in their lives. Some owners call us straight forwards claiming we take their pets off their hands, as if they were used furniture.

It is painful to see them confused and heartbroken over being abandoned by their beloved owners. Even if they were mistreated (chained, starved, verbally abused or worse), dogs seem to have a rough time getting used to the shelter life.

They seem to develop health issues associated with depression, refusing to eat, having epileptic form seizures, getting anxious, not willing to socialize with people or other animals, thus making it even more difficult to get adopted.

We know that people seem more eager to adopt puppies, thinking they need to get them as young as possible, for the bond to create. Whilst this is true, it does not mean that an adult dog won’t make a great companion, rewarding you with their gratitude and unconditional love.

Give a second chance to an abandoned pet
Give a second chance to an abandoned dog
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Purebred dogs come with specific health issues

As beautiful or as majestic as they may look like, purebred dogs often come with health issues that will create a lot of financial problems and distress for your family. As we already discussed in the previous topics, dogs are family members and we know that losing them is heartbreaking.

As much as we love them, we do know that dogs, as well as all beings, die at some point in our lives, we can’t change that. But you can get information about the specific health issues that come with every breed and maybe change your mind and give a shelter dog a chance.

People have been breeding dogs for almost 4000 years. Either looking for physical qualities for hunting dogs or for the perfect temperament for companion dogs, breeders stop at nothing when it comes to getting the perfect dog.

Dog shows that have become so popular over the past 200 years convinced breeders to breed dogs from the same family, for example grandmother and grandson, disregarding the health issues that may occur from inbreeding. Also, it is a popular practice to mate one champion male with as many females as possible, so his genes - which may not even be healthy - are spread widely.

A pug cranium compared to a normal dog cranium
A pug cranium compared to a normal dog cranium

It is commonly known that big sized dogs have problem with hip dysplasia and several heart conditions (German Shepards, Saint Bernard), miniature toy dogs come with patellar luxation or dislocation of the kneecap hazard, due to the shape of their body which is designed accordingly to certain breed standards.

Also, there are breeds that come with other health issues, such as respiratory deficiency most common in brachycephalic breeds (flat faced), such as Pugs and French Bulldogs. Because of their short snout, it is considerably harder for them to breathe properly and they are more susceptible to heat stroke and respiratory arrest during anesthesia.

Pugs come with other health issues, such as collapsed trachea (birth defect where the cartilaginous rings of the trachea collapse), skin problems and allergies. According to an article published in the Time Magazine by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) “as many as one in four purebred dogs is afflicted with a serious genetic problem”.

Almost all breeds come with at least 3 health issues that can cause your dog severe pain, discomfort and early death and all this just so they comply with the standards set out by the Kennel Clubs.

If this article convinced you to seek more information about the breed you were looking for, we are glad. If you still wont change your mind, just think about your children or grandchildren suffering of the same health issues, just so you can show them off to your neighbors and get their admiration. Is it worth it? We think not.

Conclusion

Dogs are not toys or cute gifts for your children to find under the tree on Christmas morning. They are living beings who give and need to receive love, as well as respect and proper care. Just like your children deserve all of these treats unconditionally, so does your dog. They don’t have to be beautiful or a certain shape or size or have a certain color or hair type to deserve your love and attention.

Dogs are perfect just the way they are, so why not give a shelter dog the life they so much desire? They have certainly earned it too, if you think about all the suffering they’ve endured, all the cold, lonely nights dreaming about sleeping in someone’s arms.

One of our favourite parts of rescuing is getting the after adoption photos and videos and seeing our dogs blossoming into the amazing pets we always knew them to be. Once they feel accepted and loved, these underdogs immediately remember what to do and how to react in a home environment, because it is programmed into their DNA to be man’s best friend.

Dogs have been man's best friend for thousands of years
Dogs have been man's best friend for thousands of years

Things to consider before adopting a shelter dog

As mentioned above, dogs are not toys and they don’t come with instruction manuals. We wish to offer complete information that will help you match your family’s needs with the perfect dog.

Although adopting a shelter dog is the best decision you’ll ever make, please don’t take this matter lightly! Shelter dogs are not to be afraid of, but they do come with baggage and understanding this aspect first hand will make it easier for both your family and your new dog to adapt once you get him/her home.

The first thing you need to understand is that you have to be very patient with your new pet.

If you have been chosen to adopt him/her it means we know that you love dogs very much and that you are a compassionate person, willing to give a second chance to un underdog. But please don’t shower the dog with a huge display of affection the second he/she gets out of the bus/ plane. The situation is stressful and there are a lot of things, sounds, smells that he/ she has not come across before and this might spook them.

A high tone of voice telling them how much you love them may only make matters worse and you may end up disappointed.

Please approach your dog in a calm manner, using a soft voice, make sure he/she is safe with an appropriate harness and leash; lower yourself to their level and stroke them gently on their side, giving them the chance to come close to you and asking to socialize.

Don’t be disappointed if they seem not so interested in you. The transport was probably stressful for them, they may feel tired, anxious, they may be more interesting in where they can pee, but be sure that they will fall in love with your family on their own terms.

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Shelter dogs can be scared or poorly socialized

Most shelter dogs started their life on the street, being born unwanted and growing up looking for food at the dumpster.

Although they have it programmed in their DNA to be man’s best friend, they are often discarded by humans and have to build a life around the few certainties they have: they need to fight other dogs for food, they need to lay low, so people won’t chase them away, they may occasionally find pleasure in running behind cars, they fight other males for territory or fertile female, or, in females’ case, they give birth to unwanted puppies twice a year.

This type of life has no or very little to do with socializing in the old fashion “ play fetch” or “snuggling on the sofa” way. Although they are clearly missing out on the best side of being a pet, they won’t all just accept it overnight once presented to them. Sadly, even if we raise them inside the shelter, we can’t always guarantee that our dogs will be well socialized. Sometimes the initial trauma is so deep, that they refuse to let us come close and they end up living inside a mental cage that is much more difficult to break out of than the kennel.

Shelter dogs can be scared or poorly socialized
Shelter dogs can be scared or poorly socialized

These dogs are very stressed and we often wonder if we are doing the right thing by keeping them locked up. They need a lot of special attention and a quiet, calm environment where they feel safe to step out of their shell and we know that a shelter is not the place for them. Some of our dogs feel the need to connect with people and you can see them longing for affection, but because they lack the first notion of how to bond with people, they end up being too scared to actually come close to volunteers or visitors.

If you understand all their background, there’s a better chance you build a good strategy for when your dog finally gets home, so this turns out to be a positive experience for both of you.

You may also want to take under the consideration that some dogs have had traumatic experiences with men, or older people or people holding sticks and anything that resembles that, so they may react to these triggers once they come across them.

Usually, we test our dogs with all sorts of factors - cats, children, other dogs, men, older people - and offer footage of their reaction, so you can have a better idea of what to expect.

Please ask for this sort of information regardless the rescue you decide to work with! As I said, we can’t predict the exact behaviour of our dogs once they get home, but crucial information as weather they tolerate young children or cats should always be included in the before adoption conversation between you and the rescue.

Some shelter dogs may need special care
Some shelter dogs may need special care
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They can suffer from past traumas and need to work with a dog trainer

Abby’s story is perhaps the best way we can make our point regarding this topic. She is one of the many dogs who lived on the street and tried to survive best she could. Somehow, Abby ended up getting close to a lady who fed her daily near her home. Often times dogs follow their protectors at home, trying to return a favor or maybe hoping that one day the door won’t be closed in their faces and they’ll be invited in.

But this nice lady was living in an apartment building at the 4th floor and Abby had to gather all her courage to climb up and down the stairs a few times a day. Sometimes, she even rested by the door, waiting for her friend to come out and feed her.

People get very annoyed with these situations. They accuse animal lovers that they bring these mutts inside their building, infesting it with fleas and disease and they often become violent. Most likely the dog is thrown away and the animal lover is discarded amongst neighbors or even threatened.

Abby is a very shy dog
Abby is a very shy dog

Abby had the misfortune of being the victim of such a man. She was kicked from the 4th floor, through a window, just because she was waiting for her friend to come out and make her feel like she belongs to somebody.

We were called to help her and found Abby hiding under a car, screaming hysterically and trying to get away from us, despite having all her legs broken and being covered in cuts and bruises. We were absolutely shocked to see the amount of pain and distress she was in.

Abby’s recovery was very painful and stressful. She wouldn’t let s touch her and taking her to the vet was incredibly difficult, because of the multiple operations needed to help Abby stand on her 4 legs.

Since then, Abby lives in her own world where nobody else is allowed. For the past 6 years, she hasn’t accepted contact with any of us or any other dog. She lives alone in her kennel, mostly hiding whenever someone is passing by.

We managed to give her access to the playground, so she can go outside and come back in on her own terms, with no one handling her in the process. We believe that this helps her gain some quality of life.

It makes us incredibly sad to know that Abby is trapped inside the terror she feels and that she did nothing to deserve such a miserable life.

Traumatic events can leave scars on people and it takes a lot of therapy to overcome its effects. The same rules applies to dogs, they are held hostage by the traumatic experience and what it meant for them, not being able to understand - the way we can, if explained - that it is a thing of the past and that - with the appropriate therapy - they can put it all behind them and start enjoying their lives.

It is also sad to think that these dogs have no chance to ever be considered for adoption, simply because nobody has the time to work with them. Because we are often overwhelmed with appeals to rescue animals, we are forced to focus on those we can help now and tend to overlook cases like Abby’s.

Abby is still in our shelter
Abby is still in our shelter

As the years go by, it is becoming harder and harder to get through to them and they are considered lost souls. For these dogs we hope to find experienced foster parents or even dog behaviourists who can work with them and offer them the chance to a normal life.

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Shelter dogs may not be potty trained or leash friendly

The situation of stray animals in Romania is still tragic. Thousands of stray dogs and cats end up dead every year, while other lucky thousands are rescued and kept in shelters.

Rescuers are forced to fight hard to keep them alive while finding the necessary resources - time, space, money, physical and mental strength - to save even more. Sadly, the animal shelters in Romania are built around the idea of quantity over quality, because of the distressing situation of stray animals still roaming the streets, the fields or even the woods.

Thus, the quality of the care provided for them does not reflect the love and respect we feel. We are simply overwhelmed.

Volunteers are scarce, so we can’t really rely on them for services such a training or walking our dogs. Most of them have never seen a harness or a lead and feel threatened once they are presented with.

Like anything else that dogs need to be introduce to, leads are scary things that they have never gotten used to, but are expected to master once they are adopted.

Shelter dogs may not be potty trained or leash friendly
Shelter dogs may not be potty trained or leash friendly

As much as they enjoy going to the playground and running around, most of our dogs don’t know what a harness or a leash is.

There is simply no time to waste when caring for over 200 hundred animals daily and no volunteers to help.

So, you might think about these issues and prepare yourself to be patient when teaching your dog how to go potty or walk nicely by your side. You can go online and look for tips on how to best help your dog learn these basic things or you can ask around and find a dog behaviourist who can help.

Either way, know that love is known to go a long way and it will probably be the key in teaching your new dog how to behave pet-like.

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They may be possessive around resources, because they had so little in the past

Most stray dogs may have had to fight over resources. Even between siblings the fight for survival is a natural instinct, because of the overpopulation of stray dogs in Romania. Some female dogs give birth to up to 12 puppies at once and they may or may not produce milk for so many, depending on how much food they can find for themselves.

While in bigger cities the resources are more easy to find because of the restaurants, fast foods, schools or even hospitals, in the rural area the situation is tragic.

Here, people are poor and can’t afford to feed stray animals. The leftovers are used to the very last drop to feed their own animals; people see them as tools, so feeding them is, in fact a transaction, so they can serve their purpose - the dog guards the household, the cat keeps mice away, the farm animals produce goods which can be consumed or sold into the market.

Stray animals are completely useless, moreover they may produce damage to the cattle or steal chickens or stored food for the winter. Stray animals are seen as vermin and often they are exterminated as such.

Shelter dogs may be possessive around resources, because they had so little in the past
Shelter dogs may be possessive around resources, because they had so little in the past

Sadly, Romania is a dog eat dog society and we are not just talking about the dogs. Hunger is a permanent state of being for Romanian stray dogs. Although supermarkets and households dispose of so much food daily, stray animals are still going hungry out of an irrational belief that if they are not fed, they’ll just go away. Into thin air, we might add.

Our experience shows that the only way to make an animal disappear is by preventing its birth all together, by spaying their parents. Starving them to death won’t do much, other than making them behave more aggressive over resources and thus, becoming life threatening for people around.

So don’t be surprised if your new dog is showing signs of being possessive with his/her food, toys or even your attention. These are things taken for granted for most pets, but for the shelter dogs they are valuable assets which can’t and won’t be given away to other animals or people.

Ask us to test the dog you are planning to adopt in different scenarios, including at dinner time.

Get more information about how you can help your dog overcome this issue or ask for help to a professional dog behaviourist. The worst thing you can do is ignore the problem until it escalates into tragedy involving your kids or the other pets. Please take this matter seriously! We are here to help you understand the background situation and make a responsible decision when thinking of adopting a shelter dog.

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Open your home to a home check

A home check is an appointment set with a local rescue organization that has agreed to help us find new homes for our dogs in their area. They will make sure that you and your home are ready for the next step of adopting a shelter dog. They will ask you a set of questions which will help us decide if you and your home environment are fit for greeting one of our dogs.

Why so many safety measures? Why can’t we just take your word for it?

It is never our intention to doubt your sincerity, but sometimes one’s judgement may be overclouded by emotions, especially when dealing with stray dogs and their sad stories. Your deep desire for helping such a dog, may drive you to overlook some safety issues around your home, which may put the dog’s life in danger.

For example, your fence may be too short and the dog - some of them are real escape artists - may jump over and run away. You may live near a busy road and your fence needs mending, or you may have to ask permission to your landlord to have a dog and you don’t realize it until after the dog is home.

Open your home to a home check
In the best interest of the animal, open your home to a home check

The person doing the home check may recommend you to do some adjustments and meet at a latter date to see if their advice was taken under consideration. Judging on your willingness to take in advice for the safety of your new dog, the rescue may or may not give the go ahead for the adoption process.

The home check interview is built with the intention of putting things in perspective for you and for us, aiming to find what needs to be adjusted around your home or your schedule, so the transition can run down smoothly for everyone.

The people doing the home check are doing it because they love dogs as much as you do, they are not there to create any trouble. Keeping in touch with the them may be a good idea for future guidance if and when needed.

However, if both the local rescue and we think that the dog you picked is not suitable for your family or for your home, we will advise against the adoption. Although we wish nothing more than to find good homes for all our dogs, we know them better and we will decide if a home is suited for that particular dog or not.

Our mission is to find the perfect home for the perfect dog, as promised when we rescued them. We will not overlook the dog’s safety for no reason whatsoever, no matter how many bad reviews we get because of it. Our dogs’ needs come first!

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They may have suffered from accidents or have health issues that need to be monitored

Always ask us about the dog’s health status! We make it our policy to inform everyone about the complete history (as much as we know ourselves) of every dog in our care.

Also, we can run any test you may feel it is necessary in order to convince yourself and your vet that the new dog is healthy and not carrying any parasite or disease.

It is best to be safe than sorry!

Some dogs in our care suffered from accidents or health problems that made it difficult for them to survive on their own. Some were hit by cars, others were intentionally harmed by bad people or suffered from neglect, poor diet or contagious disease. Some of them have weight problems, because they don’t get enough exercise, some are old and need special food and having their organs monitored closely.

Either way, we want to make you aware of the responsibility that comes with adopting a shelter dog.

Disabled dog carried by owner
Disabled dog carried by owner

If the dog you chose to be your new family member has health issues that need to be monitored, please check with your local veterinarian practice if they have experience with that specific condition.

If he/she was a victim of a car accident, he/she may suffer from chronic pain, or may have lost one limb, or was left paralyzed so there are special needs that have to be met.

Please make sure you get enough information about your dog’s condition, join support groups for advice on how to maximize the positive impact you can bring in that dog’s life or check with your vet if and how they can help you!

Although it may look like a lot of trouble, adopting a dog with special needs can be very rewarding in terms of being one of the few people who choose to give a chance to these animals.

While some people may call you mad for trying, you can rest assured that you are making that dog feeling loved and accepted. In the end, that’s all anybody wants in life.

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Communicate with the rescue about choosing the proper accessories for your new dog

This may not seem very important, but buying dog accessories can be a fun process for you and your family to go through while waiting for your new furry friend. Also, having a proper harness and lead when going to pick him/her up from the transport is a must, so all the more reason to do it.

If the process of choosing a dog and going through the home check is over, you can go ahead and ask us for measurements for your dog. These should be helping you buy the dog’s harness and lead, dog coat for rainy days and his/her dog bed, as well as a transport crate (if traveling by plane).

Have fun shopping!

One of our dogs sleeping in the adopter`s cat basket
One of our adopted dogs sleeping in the adopter`s cat basket
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A dog is not a toy you can dispose of when you get bored

We cannot stress this enough, a dog is not a toy! They have been already through so much hardship and suffering, so please, think about what it means to adopt a dog, before actually doing it!

Depending on the dog’s age, they may be a family member for the next 5 - 15 years, which means that you need to provide for them all that time, regardless of what your life may look like.

Whether you need a dog to keep you company after the kids moved away, or your children are begging you to get them a furry friend, once adopted, dogs are there to stay.

A shelter dog won’t understand that he/she needs to be quiet and still for 8 hours a day while you are at work or that your kids are already bored with them and are demanding for the latest version of LegoLand. They are family members with needs and desires, and they can’t be ignored.

If you adopt a shelter dog and decide to send him/her back for no good reason, other than realizing they are living beings who need you to put some extra effort than you were thinking about, they will be damaged.

A dog is not a toy
A dog is not a toy

Going from one place to another - the shelter, someone’s home, some’s foster home, someone else’s home and so on - makes them confused and anxious.

They too suffer when they are abandoned and each time someone decides the dog is more than they can handle (although during the adoption process we offered all the necessary information), the dog’s chances of finding his/her forever home are getting smaller.

Dogs are sentient beings who feel when they are rejected. They are willing to offer their unconditional love for free, so we believe that they deserve some respect in return.

Please think long and hard before asking us to adopt a dog! As much as we want to find good homes for all of them, we will not send them away just to get rid of them.

Each adoption process is unique and it takes time, but we are willing to do everything in our power to make sure that our dogs get what they deserve - a big bite of happiness!

Conclusion

Just because they are shelter dogs, it doesn’t mean that we will agree to have them go to the first person who asks for them. They are important to us and their safety and happiness comes above all else.

We will not agree to break any rule when going through with an adoption process, no matter who the applicant is or does. The rules were set for our dog’s safety, but also to make sure that we match the perfect family with the perfect dog, aiming for as many happy endings as possible.

We understand that the articles above may lead you to ask yourself why go through all that trouble to adopt an underdog, when you can easily pay a few hundreds of Euros for a purebred one?

Because all good things come the hard way. Paying for happiness never really works and it can’t bring you the joy of knowing you saved not one life, but all those saved because you chose to adopt a shelter dog.

Another adopted dog from our shelter
Another adopted dog from our shelter

Learn what type of dog is right for you

We know you love all dogs, we do too. No matter what shape or size they come in, all dogs are lovable and deserve a forever home. We couldn’t agree more! But when it comes to practical decision, you must decide what type of dog is best suited for your lifestyle.

Do you own you home or live in an apartment building? Do you live close to a park or would your new dog have to walk near a busy parking lot? Do you have time to exercise your dog or would your schedule be best suited for a couch potato? Are you or any of your family member allergic to dog hair? Do you have the energy to play with a puppy or prefer a quiet grandma who will feel happy just snuggling at your feet?

These are all important questions which will help you establish what sort of dog you’re looking for. It’s ok if you don’t have time or the necessary space for a large puppy! There are plenty of dogs waiting for a chance to catch someone’s eye, so we are sure we can find the right one for you.

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Is there a right dog breed for you?

If you are looking for a purebred dog, the shelter is not exactly the place to start. Because of the overpopulation of stray dogs in Romania, the process of mating is quite chaotic, so there are few licensed breeders who can guarantee you are buying a purebred dog.

While there is plenty of information regarding what to expect in terms of temperament when looking to buy a dog, we think that adopting a shelter dog is much more fun and certainly more rewarding.

Mixed breeds come in a variety of sizes, colors and, of course, personalities. They may be the Cinderellas in society’s views, but they can sure turn out to be the true princes and princesses of your home.

The wonderful thing about dogs is they live in the present moment and don’t live their lives worrying about social status, popularity or success, because what they offer is beyond any of that. The unconditional love they give us knows no boundaries, so they expect the same consideration offered back.

Finding the right dog can be difficult sometimes
Finding the right dog can be difficult sometimes
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Is there a right dog size for you?

Size does matter! When it comes to choosing your dog, you have to take under consideration things, such as: the space in which he/she will live, the time you can spend walking them every day and who will handle them on a daily basis. Bigger dogs need more space, so it might not be a very good idea to adopt a Great Dane mix if you live in an apartment building on the 7th floor. They also need more exercise, so you ought to think about how much time you can spare walking your dog everyday.

Smaller dogs are best suited if you have less space or if you are an older person who doesn’t have the energy for playing with your dog.

Adopting a shelter dog can be a fun process, but please take matters seriously and do your best in choosing the best suited dog for your home environment - according to space, number of rooms, whether you have a garden or not, the level of tolerance your neighbours have shown in the past, proximity to a park and for the effort you are willing to make carrying for him/ her - how much time you have to spend with your dog, are you willing to exercise your dog or are you just considering taking a few strolls in the park, can you rely on other people to help you walk him/her or you are by yourself.

Your future dog`s size is very important
Your future dog`s size is very important

Looks are important, but size is very important too. Take your time in thinking matters over and find the perfect dog for you. We are here to help you!

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The right age

Firstly, when it comes to shelter dogs, we can’t really know for sure how old they are, except for the situation we raise them ourselves.

Most dogs had a very tough life on the street, eating whatever scraps they could find, so their teeth may be in a poor state, preventing us from properly evaluating their age.

We can approximate how old they are by looking at their teeth, their eyes, the condition of their fur, how they walk and, when spaying them, by the look of the uterus (a rough estimate of how many litters of puppies they gave birth to).

So, when we give you the information regarding their age, please bare in mind all of the above and understand that we can’t be 100% sure how old they really are.

But, in terms of labeling them as - puppies, adults or seniors - we can offer you support when choosing the right dog according to their age.

Aria, Titan, Marvel along with their adopter, Bernice
Aria, Titan, Marvel along with their adopter, Bernice

Puppies are kids best friends, we all know that. They are innocent, curious, sociable, silly and very playful, making them the perfect choice when it comes to active families with younger children who wish to have a furry best friend at their side. Of course, everybody loves puppies and wishes to adopt them thinking that the special bond between them can only happen if the dog is very young.

But things can’t be further from the truth!

Older dogs can be very grateful and bond with their new families just as much as puppies do. Moreover, knowing the sad lives they had, offering an adult dog a second chance is very rewarding.

Senior dogs are the perfect choice for older people who have mobility issues, but wish to a have a canine companion. They tend to be calm and not ask for too much of your attention, but rather enjoy some time on their own, mostly sleeping in their comfy beds.

Younger children or having other young animals may not be a good idea when choosing to give a second chance to an older dog.

They can get pretty grumpy, because their level of energy is low and can’t keep up with the mischief of your puppy or of your toddler.

As with everything else, please think about the age of your new dog and what it means in terms of special care - puppies need health supplements, more exercise, maybe even training, they can chew your shoes or cry if left home alone for too many hours; senior dogs may come with some health issues that need to be monitored, so the vet bills may add up and there is also the sad issue of having them on your side for shorter periods of time.

Whatever you choose, adopting a shelter dog is the best thing you will ever do!

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The right temperament

Are you a high energy person and need someone to keep up with your thirst for adventure?

Do you like to snuggle on your sofa with a good book and a sausage dog wrapped around your feet?

Is your long life dream to have a dog that can be trained to do tricks so you can entertain your friends and family?

Do you believe that your dog is your best friend forever and that no human can ever offer you the kind of love dogs do?

Than you are in the right place!

Shelter dogs are just as loving, as intelligent and as open to bond with you as any purebred dog. Just because they can't be labeled as one breed or another, it doesn't mean that they can’t display similar personalities as Labradors or Chihuahuas, for example. Smaller dogs have, by definition, the drama queen syndrome, meaning they feel everything at a higher level and tend to target your compassion and need to rescue them.

Dogs with attitude
Dogs with attitude

Also, our experience shows that smaller dogs are quite bossy, despite their miniature size. We make it our duty to test our dogs according to the situations given by our potential adopters. So, if you have cats, younger children or an older dog and wish to adopt a shelter dog, we will test him/her with the targeted categories, so we can predict - to some level - their reaction to them.

Of course, when it comes to temperament issues, the dog’s history plays a big part, but also your relationship with the dog itself. A dog who is creating trouble at home may want to let you know something is wrong.

If they are barking, destroying their beds and toys, chewing your socks, they may want to tell you that they are bored and need more exercise. Inexplicable grumpiness may indicate health issues, so if your dog is behaving weird, ask your vet for advice.

As you may already know, dogs are not furniture and can’t be thought of as decor. Even if they are underdogs, once at home, they will demand your attention and react to how you respond to them.

There is no perfect temperament to look for in dogs, as there are no perfect people in the world. It is a matter of trying to match your wishes and desires with the dog’s needs.

And, of course, lots of love in between.

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The right type of hair

No matter what type of dog you choose, there will be hair all over your clothes and sofas, so you’d better get used to this idea. There are people and then there are animal lovers and they most likely don’t own a single piece of clothing that's free of dog or cat hair. But this is just a small price to pay for the amount of happiness our pets bring into our lives.

Of course, depending on the type of hair your dog has - long or short, your carpets and sofas may look a bit different, but never not covered in hair, let’s be precise. When deciding what type of dog you want to adopt, you have to take under consideration the time and effort needed to groom them. Whether at home or at a canine beauty parlor, you either need some proper tools to use - the appropriate brushes, dog shampoo, a trimmer - or choose to pay for the canine beautician every 6 weeks or so.

Grooming your dog’s long or curly hair is not only necessary for their looks, but also for the health of their skin. A matted coat is unpleasant to look at, but it also keeps a lot of dirt and moist which can cause your dog severe rashes or even hide old wounds.

Darling is adopted in Germany and feels and looks her best
Darling is adopted in Germany and feels and looks her best

Conclusion

Dogs aren’t perfect, but then neither are we. Breed won’t guarantee you having the perfect dog in terms of size, temperament or looks, moreover it comes with specific health issues which can create a big amount of distress for you and for your family.

Although we love all dogs, we understand that some dogs are better suited for some people and that we have to consider factors such as space, free time, level of energy when matching our dogs with potential adopters.

Finding the best forever home for our dogs is what drives us to keep going everyday. Happy ends are possible only if and when we are willing to take responsibility for the before adoption process which can be time consuming, but vital in our line of work.

Our favorite breed is rescued dogs.

Fran was wild and it took 6 months only to leash her, now she lives in the UK and has her own backyard
Fran was wild and it took 6 months only to leash her, now she lives in the UK and has her own backyard

Is your home suited for having a dog?

Another very important issue to take into account is dogs aren’t pieces of furniture, they will mess your very neat and tidy minimalist or futuristic home, so please think about that before you commit to adopting a dog.

They may chew things, slobber on your couch, leave quite a lot of hair on the carpet, go through the garbage bin, chase the cat who can break things trying to get away. This is the charm of having a dog, but we are aware that this is not for everyone, so ask yourself this: am I a dog person?

If the answer is yes, you are in the right place.

And yes, your house will need a bit more cleaning than before, but having a dog brings so much happiness in one’s life, that this seems like a pretty small price to pay for it.

Also, having a dog means that some of your friends may not want to come visit you as they did before, or they will ask you to put the dog away during their stay.

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Do you have the necessary space for the type of dog you want to adopt?

Space is a big issue for everyone. With over 7 billion people on Earth, we sometimes feel overcrowded and we often express the need for wide open spaces just so we can breathe, especially in big cities.

If you don’t have a dog or never had one, it’s understandable that you may overlook some details, such as adapting the type and size of dog you wish to adopt to your living situation.

A big sized dog is best suited into a family with a big yard or even a farm where he/she can have plenty of space to run around and exercise or play with other animals. Or at least, living next to a park and having the necessary time to walk your dog at least once a day.

Trying to fit a German Shepard mix into your one person tub may prove to be very challenging after a nice walk on a rainy afternoon.

A one bedroom apartment in a big city isn’t quite an ideal home for a large dog, that’s for sure! If this is the case, it may be a good idea to get a small or a medium size dog.

Ben, the one on the left, is one of our dogs who was rescued from the street. He is now happily adopted in Germany
Ben, the one on the left, is one of our dogs who was rescued from the street. He is now happily adopted in Germany
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Is your home a safe environment for a shelter dog to live in?

There is a very important issue to consider when thinking about adopting a dog and that is: his/her safety. Is your home dog friendly? Is your fence high enough and in good condition and will it prevent your new dog from getting away?

It is important to know that shelter dogs may react in a different way than expected when arriving at their new homes.

One may think that they should be happy and start enjoying their lush lives, but as a matter of fact, some dogs feel confused and even scared when introduced into an unknown environment.

We are sure your home is lovely, but sometimes shelter dogs have a difficult time getting over their past traumas and try to run away, especially during the first few days after arrival. Please make sure your furry friend is safe at all times!

Dogs can be very curious and can get stuck in tight spaces, so please go over all the things that may harm your dog when you are not at home. Getting their head stuck in narrow places is known to happen quite often and, if not found in time, dogs can die.

Romanian rescued dogs adopted in UK
Romanian rescued dogs adopted in UK

Leaving toxic substances at hand for your dog to ingest is a very common accident and, sadly, in most cases it’s lethal for your dog.

It is well known that most detergents may taste sweet, so your dog can easily mistake it for something yummy to lick. By the time you figure out that something is wrong with your dog, the toxic chemicals may already have made its way into the circulatory system and damaged his/her organs beyond repair.

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Do you have permission to own a dog?

Asking for permission from your landlord, your neighbors or from other family members is an important aspect of the adoption process. Please make sure you have this figure out before asking us to go over adopting one of our dogs!

Sadly, our time is limited and having numerous conversation about a dog, conducting several tests for you only to find out that your landlord isn’t allowing any animals in the building after all is not cool. It just means our dogs had their needs neglected for no good reason.

Another big problem on this topic is the conflict between family members regarding the adoption of a(nother) dog. Don’t just assume that your parents or your spouse will have to deal with you wanting a(nother) dog once he/she is home.

Things may escalate and the dog may end up in a kennel with your local shelter or, if you decide to offer them free of taxes on adoption sites, he/she may even end up as dog bait in the dog fighting industry or worse.

Please, don’t take matters lightly, our dogs mean the world to us! They may be Romanian underdogs, but they deserve to be happy and safe in a home with people who want them.

Suzy and Sophie two sisters adopted together and treated as equal members of their extended family in UK
Suzy and Sophie two sisters adopted together and treated as equal members of their extended family in UK
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How many hours would the dog spend on his/ her own?

Being home alone for too many hours could be very stressful for your dog, especially if he/she is high energy and needs a lot of mental stimulation to feel satisfied.

This situation may lead onto negative behaviors, such as obsessive barking and crying, which may upset your neighbors, chewing or destroying things around the house - their beds, the couch, pillows, walls or even doors, peeing and pooping indoors or even snapping at other animals.

As we said before, dogs aren’t toys or furniture, so you can’t turn them off when you don’t feel like dealing with them. Daily exercise and long walks a few times a week are essential for keeping them happy and entertained. If your dog likes to socialize with other dogs, all the more reason for you to go to the dog park and allow your dog to spend time with his/her friends.

While leaving your senior dog home alone for a few hours may be ok, doing the same thing with your 5 months old puppy may turn out to be a bad decision, because they need to pee more often and they can develop separation anxiety.

Constance contemplating her next meeting with her siblings. They were all adopted in UK and some of the  families keep in touch
Constance contemplating her next meeting with her siblings. They were all adopted in UK and some of the families keep in touch

However, there are tricks you can do to help your dog get used to being left on his/her own for a few hours.

Experts agree that too little time spent in outdoor activity may cause your dog serious health and behavioral issues, such as: boredom which may lead to depression:

  • obesity, which causes heart condition and diabetes, as well as mobility issues;
  • lethargy;
  • obsessive barking, whining;
  • irritability and rough play with other animals;
  • escaping their home.

Some dogs may start feeling anxious as soon as they see you get ready to leave the house. Triggers such as applying makeup, putting on your shoes and coat, taking your keys may get them to start whining, panting or pacing, indicating an anxiety episode coming over.

You can repeat these actions a few times a day without actually going away, so your dog no longer associates them to a negative experience. You may put on your coat and start playing with him/her or take your keys and sit on the couch and watch TV.

Please bare in mind that this step will take a few weeks for it to work, because, depending on the case, your dog has associated these cues with your absence for a long time.

You can find more information about this topic online or seek professional help with a certified dog behaviorist. Either way, there is no reason why you can’t have a normal life even if your dog manifests symptoms of separation anxiety.

Conclusion

We understand that seeing and reading about stray dogs in Romania is causing you distress and you wish to help out by offering your home and heart to a forgotten soul.

We are grateful for your compassion and generosity!

However, adopting a shelter dog is just as demanding as any other situation in which you make yourself responsible for a living being. There are a lot of aspects to consider before adopting and going through them thoroughly can only help make this process easier for everyone involved.

We hope we covered most of the essential topics, so you can make your choice knowing what to expect and how you can adjust your home and lifestyle.

We want to make this experience accessible for everyone. We are willing to offer our full support regarding this process, because our ultimate goal is finding loving homes for all our dogs.

A word from the author

There is nothing like knowing you helped save another life.

My story started 18 years ago when I witnessed the struggle of a mother dog trying to raise her puppies near my home. She gave birth to 9 puppies and hid them under an old building site. She spent her days walking through snow sometimes higher than herself, trying to find enough food for her and for her puppies.

I helped them survive through the winter, but sadly they were not safe. One summer morning I found all of them poisoned and left in the street. From that day on I knew I had to fight, so no innocent dog will ever suffer this much. Poisoning is still a common practice in Romania used to deal with the overpopulation of stray dogs and cats. We can only imagine the extent of the suffering they go through before dying, sometimes alone and never having experienced an ounce of compassion in their lives.

Our mission is to end animal suffering, so we dedicate a big part of our resources to organizing free spay/neuter events for people who can’t afford to pay for it.

Anda, Founding member of Happy Dogs Romania
Anda is the author of this article and one of the founders of Happy Dogs Romania
Anda is the author of this article and one of the founders of Happy Dogs Romania

© 2020 Asociația ”Câinele Meu” Romania | Reg.Num: RO23744697

About this website

About HappyDogsRomania.org

The following companies worked alongside the team at Happy Dogs Romania to create this website and help the stray dogs from Moreni find a home.