The photo above is of one of our rescue dogs Erou while he was still in Dorohoi public shelter
How is a adopting a rescue dog from Romania different from adopting a rescue from the UK?
A rescue dog from Romania has previously most likely lived on the street and this presents very different challenges to adopting a dog from a rescue centre in the UK.
To make the adoption a success it is very important to understand what a Romanian rescue dogs life was like before they came to the UK.
A dog living on the streets of Romania has a harsh existence particularly during the winter months when temperatures fall as low as -20 and there is snow on the ground for many weeks. The large population of street dogs stems from a policy of systemisation during the Communist regime that ruled Romania for decades. People were forced to move into apartment blocks and so their dogs were abandoned to a life on the streets. The dogs were not neutered so the street dog population rapidly grew.
Currently in Romania stray dogs are ‘caught’ by government paid dog catchers and taken to public dog shelters. The policy is to capture the dogs, hold them for 14 days and if they are not claimed or adopted they are euthanised. The dog catchers capture the dogs using a catch pole. The process is brutal and the dogs scream in pain and fear and are then taken to the local public shelter. Conditions in public dog shelters are horrific. The dogs are starving, living in filthy conditions, they are often badly or fatally attacked by other dogs and disease is rife.
It is hard for us to imagine the trauma these dogs have been through before they arrive to begin their new lives with us. What we do know about them is that they know nothing about our world and way of life.
There are essentially two types of rescue dog from Romania. One is what we would describe as a ‘street dog’. These dogs will be used to a degree of human interaction. They will have lived in a populated area and may have been fed and fussed by humans. The other type of rescue is a feral dog that is also a street dog but they have not had the same level of human interaction, they may have lived in a more remote area and avoided any human contact. These dogs can be extremely fearful of humans for many months, even years after being captured.
A very small percentage of rescue dogs from Romania will have been pet dogs that have lived in a home. Sometimes dogs are kept on chains at a property and will have almost certainly have lived outside with minimal shelter from the elements.
Street dogs in Romania are often viewed as a ‘pest’ and labelled dangerous or aggressive. They are often chased, beaten or injured by humans. Many street dogs are hit by cars and spend days or weeks on the street suffering in pain from terrible injuries.
So this is the point that we are starting from to rehabilitate our rescue dogs so they can cope with their new life as our pet dogs. You can see why they may find this transition very difficult!
The most important thing that we must do as rescuers and adopters is to gain our rescue dogs trust. We will gain their trust by respecting what they have been through, understanding why they behave in certain ways, having unlimited patience with them and being consistently kind and calm towards them.
If you are considering adopting a rescue dog from Romania you must first ask yourself what you want from dog ownership. If you are looking for a dog that will immediately fit into your life then a Romanian rescue dog might not be the best fit for you!
These dogs come from traumatic beginnings, your dog might struggle with lots of things to start with but patience and understanding from you as their new owner will help them overcome their fears and enjoy their new life. Depending on how a dog has been affected by his or her previous experiences, they may never be able to cope with certain aspects of domestic life and you must be prepared to accept this and adapt your own ideals about dog ownership.
This is Erou just a few weeks after arriving here at Charney Rescue.