One local animal lover is heading thousands of miles away to help pooches in peril...
THEY say dogs are a man’s best friend.
But that’s not always the case in Romania, where they are often seen as pests which need to be eradicated – which they are, on a daily basis.
Alex Mackie, 23, is a mum-of-two from Aldingbourne, who has three dogs, and runs her own dog-walking and training business.
As an animal-lover, she has been moved by the situation in Romania, and she tells us why she’s started campaigning.
Authorities in Romania have ordered dog-catchers to scour the streets for any strays.
“We are talking about important high-up people who are doing this. It’s full of corruption,” she said. “The dog catchers are barbaric people and get paid very well by the authorities to do it.”
Millions of dogs in Romania become strays or are born on the streets, as owners can no longer afford them and leave them for dead.
“They are not spayed or neutered, people just don’t have the money to pay for it. They can’t afford to feed them,” she said.
The situation has become so overwhelming that dogs are herded up and killed by dog-catchers who are paid per dog, or thrown into a centre where they are left to starve. Some are even poisoned, leading to agonising deaths.
After hearing the horror stories via social networking site Facebook, Alex decided not only did she want to foster Romanian dogs, but she is going to head out there this summer to see the situation herself, as well as fundraising for the cause. She has already received several generous donations, and said every little helps.
“Donations have enabled me to pay for transport, care and vaccinations for three dogs already which arrive for fostering here in the next few weeks. But we need more supporters to continue saving lives.”
One of these dogs is arriving on Saturday.
“Lupo is around two or three years old. He has been fed and loved on the streets by rescuers, but it became urgent that he got to safety as the dog catchers were in his area.
“Many of his fellow strays have met a terrible end. He is neutered, vaccinated, very sociable with other dogs, and a very calm boy.”
She has made it her mission to find these dogs a loving home in Sussex.
“The treatment of animals out there is just shocking,” she said. “I’m going to go out there for a week or two. I have four or five dog rescuers I can stay with. I need to see it for myself and decide what the highest priorities are.
“I’m going to pay for the trip myself, and hope to fundraise so I can take some money out there to help.”
When she returns from her trip, she will continue to raise awareness and cash to transport dogs to the UK through a group of dog rescuers in Romania, so she can try to rehome them. But even removing dogs from the centre comes at a price.
“I’ve been in contact with some of the people who have been in the shelters. They are managing to get in and they can buy a dog from them for about 60 euros. You’re giving the authorities money and they are making a business out of it, but what can you do?”
Alex has already started to help fund yard space for rescuers to take dogs who will then be driven over to the UK – rescuers cannot buy the dogs unless they have somewhere to take them.
“Some of these people go without food for days so they can feed the dogs and give them a safe place to stay,” she said.
They also take on strays who are at risk of being captured and orphaned puppies. The rescue groups then nurse the dogs – which have often been beaten and starved – back to health and have them vaccinated.
Each dog has a passport, and it cannot get one to be flown into the UK if it has any diseases or has not had the correct vaccinations. All they need is a loving home after the cruelty they’ve suffered, Alex said.
“The dogs we rescue are often not at all aggressive like the Romanian authorities claim. Most will live happily with dogs and even cats, as life as a stray means they are well socialised. Many are very friendly and affectionate. They have been victims of violence from humans but just love and care can show them not all humans are terrible. They’ve often been played with and cared for on the streets and are very tame, but need to get over their ordeals.”
She is going to start transporting dogs over and finding them a home in the UK.
“In my business I train dogs too, and anyone who takes on one of these rescued dogs, I will train them for free. I will rehome them to anyone who can provide a good home, but it would be nice if they were close by so I can see how they’re getting on. If I can just save one dog, then it will be worth it.”
Lupo will arrive in the UK on Saturday and Alex is looking for a ‘forever home’ for him. “The sooner I can find him a home, the sooner I can help another dog,” she said.
Contact Alex via her website if you’re interested in adopting a rescue dog, or if you have any fundraising ideas, at www.activeanimalscareandtraining.co.uk