A weekend on the Romanian frontline

(This article originally published by The Stray Today)

K-9 Angels have been re-homing dogs from Romania for the past year but we really wanted to see the stray dog situation for ourselves. We see video footage and pictures of these stray dogs every day, but sometimes it’s hard to believe that this horror is really happening, it’s like a bad dream and as though it’s not real. So, we set out in October 2012 for two days to film some footage for ourselves.

We arrived on the afternoon of Thursday 18th October and we were met by our Romanian K-9 Angels, Alexandra Sarau and Nanu Madalina. In fact, it was Nanu Madalina that found the first K-9 Angels dog by bringing a little dog called Angel to our attention. Angel was the inspiration behind the founding of K-9 Angels.

We have worked online with these amazing ladies all year re-homing dogs that they had found on the streets, and this was our first time meeting them in person so I knew this would be an emotional meeting! We all went straight to our hotel for lunch and to hear all of the stories that the girls had to tell us. After this brief lunch, we then got straight to work and went out on the streets of Bucharest to start filming.

It was a beautiful sunny day in Bucharest, but it wasn’t long before the beauty of the day was tainted by us finding our first stray dog. We were in the car park of the grocery shop Lidl, and we could see that she was a girl so we quickly named her Lidl Angelina. She was a beautiful little dog hiding underneath a car. We tried to coax her out but she was so frightened and kept running away. We all went into Lidl to buy huge bags of food but when we came out Lidl Angelina was gone. So, we walked some more, and the more we walked, the more stray dogs we saw. They were everywhere! We then saw Lidl Angelina again and we fed her but she ran away in fear. This time, Madalina went after her. By this time it was getting dark, but to our surprise, Madalina came back with Lidl Angelina in her arms a few minutes later. We were so happy to see it was Lidl Angelina, we decided there and then she was coming with us to the Vet, and hopefully to a forever home!

We decided to continue filming until late as we knew we only had two days in Bucharest. We found many dogs in a bad way, living in rubbish tips, most with worms and so very skinny. Many had bite marks, and deep wounds, and broken limbs; just left to roam the streets and fend for themselves. In one area, on a rubbish tip, there must have been at least twenty dogs living amongst the garbage! We slowly walked up to them with our big bags and tins of food and we were so surprised at just how friendly these dogs were! It was unbelievable! Even though humans had forgotten about these poor creatures these dogs had not forgotten how to love; they were all over us and it wasn’t just for the food, they literally begged us to love them. It was so hard for us, as we knew we were there to film and didn’t have the money to just scoop all of these dogs up and take them home like we wanted to, so we just named them and photographed them hoping that we could find them foster/adopters in the future. We knew that with financial help, Alexandra, who lives in Bucharest, would go and feed these dogs on a daily basis. But what would happen in the winter time? They would surely die here.

That night we ended up taking another dog to the Vet. This dog had been run over and her back leg had been badly broken. She had been hit by a car and was left to wander the streets. We were worried she wouldn’t have a chance if left like that on the streets, so we took her to ‘Speed Vet’ where she was given an x-ray. She has since had two operations to fix her leg. We named her lady. She was beautiful but look so scared. But I’m happy to say that Lady is in a shelter now and on the mend. But she desperately needs a forever home.

I was absolutely shattered and after our first day in Bucharest. We had spent all day and evening filming, but we finally got back to our hotel to try and sleep. I didn’t sleep much at all, too many visions of these poor street dogs going through my head, and the horrible feeling of knowing you can’t save all of them. It really haunts you.

The second day, Friday 19th October, Alexandra met us at our hotel and the four of us set off once again. Armed with dog food and a video camera, we walked the streets looking for stray dogs. It was another beautiful sunny day in Bucharest, but it brought even more stray dogs. We saw them everywhere! Sitting in the road, in tips, under cars, walking the streets, with no one to love, feed, or protect them. We went back to the rubbish tip we had been to the night before to try and take two puppies that we had named Mork and Mindy. We had seen them living with a homeless lady in the rubbish tip but there was ‘no way’ she was going to hand those puppies over to us! We also had to be very careful because there were gypsies living there too and we didn’t want to upset them. We asked Alexandra if she could try and get these puppies another time by persuading this lady. We feared these pups would not survive winter. All we could do at this point was buy her food for herself and the puppies.

As I said, we were originally there to film and film only, but we ended up taking ten dogs off the streets, putting them into shelter, getting them fully vaccinated, and getting them a passport so they could travel to the UK. We wanted to take them all, but that was just not possible. Ten dogs was all we could afford. To get them prepared and sheltered was going to cost £2,000 as it was. The ten lucky dogs were Lidl Angelina, Lady, Princess Roma, Blacky, Toothy, Johnny, Shaggy, Snoopy, Victor and Happy. Unfortunately, Alex went back for the puppies a few times but they were never found. Little Mork and Mindy had been the only survivors from a litter of ten puppies and now we will never know what their fate was.

We then went back to ‘Speed Vet’ to check on Lidl Anglina and Lady. Lidl Angelina had distemper, which we are having treated at the moment, and she is doing very well. Lady had the broken back leg and hip, but the Vet, Andricio, was hopeful that both dogs would pull through and we were hopeful we could find them forever homes in the not too distant future.

It was drawing near to the end of our short trip to Bucharest, and I’m not sure I could have taken much more to be honest. I so want to help those dogs with all my heart but it really is a shock to the system to be there and see it for yourself.

I spoke to the Vet, Adrian Lurenco, about the stray dog situation and he said there are around 200,000 stray dogs in Bucharest alone and around 200,000 in the immediate surrounding areas. Just one un-spayed female pup and her offspring turn into a staggering 67,000 dogs in just six years!!

I asked what can K-9 Angels do to help, and Adrian said that to solve this problem there would need to be a mass spay and neuter program set up that would consist of 2 mobile clinics in each of the 6 sectors of Bucharest. It would take 10 years to spay and neuter all the dogs and cost 10 million Euros. That’s around 20-30 Euros per dog. I felt deflated to say the least when I heard these numbers, but not defeated. I know the power that like-minded people have, and I know that it will be possible to solve. With a lot of fundraising and a lot of organizing. And I’m here for the long haul.

But for now we left Bucharest knowing we had saved the lives of ten dogs. Lives that would most probably have been very short lived, but would now be lived full of love. We also got to meet Nanu and Alex, the amazing ladies that go out every day on the streets to feed the dogs and to see for ourselves the dire situation of the street dogs. We also got that film footage so we can raise awareness around the world of what’s happening in Romania. I just hope that next time we are back in Romania it’s to do a mass spay and neuter.

We said our farewells to Alexandra Sarau and Nanu Madalina, and we knew we would see them soon in the not too distant future.

I will miss all those dogs that we met and it broke my heart to leave them, such friendly little souls just wanting to be loved.

Remember every life counts!

With lots of love,


P.S. Please support our work by donating at www.k-9angels.org

Here are the ten lucky dogs we were able to take into our care straight off the streets during our trip. Please, do everything you can to help us find them loving new forever homes!

Snoopy found in rubbish tip, very friendly loving boy, in shelter needs forever home!
Little female, rescued as she was running under traffic in a ‘Lidl’ carpark, hence ‘Lidl Angelina’. Sweet, quiet and a little nervous. Needs a loving and soothing home to reach her full potential.She is currently still in shelter in Romania recovering from Distemper. It costs 25 Euro per month to keep a dog at the shelter, and they don’t get a lot of human interaction at these shelters, so she urgently needs a loving home.
K-9 Angels found Lady on the streets with her back leg broken. We took her straight to the Vet and she had to have an operation. The vet said she had been hit by a car and just left. She is now resting in a shelter but she needs a forever home. Lady is a friendly loving girl.She has now had 2 operations to fix her broken leg.
K-9 Angels and Alexandra Sarau found Princess Roma living on the streets of Romania last October. She is simply beautiful and so loving, I wanted to keep her myself! Princess Roma is a very sweet girl, around 8 months old, medium-big size, around 20-22 kg. She was living the worst neighbourhood of Bucharest, she had few other brothers but they have been taken by the dog catchers. She is a playful girl, always ready to give and receive some love and hugs. She was living next to a garbage container, searching for food. She needs a loving home.
Blacky is a 7-8 month old boy, quite cheeky, he is around 17 kg and very playful and loving. Rescued by The Angels while in Bucharest and needs a home so desperately.Blacky still in shelter in Romania!!

Toothy has been found a loving home and moves in this weekend!

Toothy was a cute little boy and wouldn’t stop following us around for cuddles, but he was quite sad. He had had a very tough life on the streets, recently hit by a car, and his tail had been cut. He is around a few years old and about 5-6 kg. Since his accident he had been chased off and beaten several times.

We wish him all the best for his new life!

Super happy ending to this little man’s story….K-9 Angels found Johnny living in a rubbish tip in Romania. A loving, friendly and very handsome boy…HE HAS BEEN ADOPTED AND NOW LIVES IN SCOTLAND!
Shaggy is a maximum of 10-11 months old. Vaccinated, healthy, very playful, and still just a baby. Booked to arrive in the UK on the 10th of December, and a new forever home has been found, but as yet the local Gypsies will not surrender him…fingers crossed for Shaggy.
K-9 Angels and Alexandra Sarau found this old timer on the streets of Romania in October. We named him Victor. He is so friendly and he wouldn’t leave us alone for cuddles. We believe Victor to be around 8 years old. K-9 Angels took Victor off the streets and he is now nearly ready to travel. Please offer our old timer a loving forever home.Pola and Victor fell in love!
Happy is a beautiful little girl that K-9 Angels and Alexandra Sarau found living in a rubbish tip. Please offer Happy a forever home. She is adorable very loving and playful.STILL IN SHELTER, SO LOVING!