Posted 58d ago
By Leila Marshall
International Dog Rescue is a not-for-profit organisation based in Hull that neuters and vaccinates unwanted dogs in Romania before bringing them to partner centres in the UK to have a second chance at life.
Back in 2011, Gill Williams visited a dog shelter in Romania and saw the terrible conditions the dogs lived in, compared to rescue dogs in the UK. She quickly realised that many of these dogs had zero chance of ever getting out of the shelter and almost all of them would die in there.
Gill spent the next five years setting up and establishing a dog rescue in the UK with a view to providing a stable base to bring these unfortunate dogs back to. Fast forward to 2017, Gill and a group of dedicated dog lovers set up International Dog Rescue.
The organisation is doing two things: raising funds to build a shelter in Romania, and bringing dogs over to the UK where they can get a chance at finding the loving home they will never get while they stay in Romania.
Charlotte Gillett, a volunteer for IDR, said: “I think the dog everyone remembers the most is Max as he got a lot of coverage in the press. Each volunteer will have a dog that they will never forget.
“Our mission statement is to make a difference to dogs in need in Europe and beyond, and to save lives and to set an example to locals as to how to care for dogs while they are without an owner.”
IDR does not currently have a rescue centre of its own but has several UK rescue partners who take the dogs and find them homes here. The organisation is always trying to form new partnerships to help save more dogs. Having more spaces across the UK means the dogs aren’t waiting in the horrendous shelters for a space over here.
Charlotte said: “We are currently trying to set up our own shelter in Romania to allow us to move dogs at risk of being put to sleep very quickly and then work with them to socialise them and undertake some basic training before we move them to the UK.”
IDR works with a public kill shelter in Calarasi. It pays for the dogs to travel to its partner rescues in the UK to find homes. It also has a foster to adopt process where extra friendly, confident dogs can travel direct to a home in the UK for a foster period of about four weeks before full adoption takes place. This allows everyone to make sure they are a good fit. Puppies can be adopted direct from Romania as they have not yet developed any behavioural issues. IDR has also supported private shelters to improve.
The charity has helped 396 dogs to be adopted, 64 in UK rescues are now looking for homes, 46 have been funded and are now waiting for a space in UK rescues or are waiting to be fostered with a view to adopt.
The rescue relies on donations to get these 'tagged' dogs out of the shelters (Image: IDR)
In order to be brought to the UK, each dog has to have its travel costs raised which is currently £215. They also need a £15 test for Brucellosis, for which IDR fundraises.
Charlotte said: “Currently the rescue that the dog travels to pays for the preparation costs –
but with many dogs being moved between rescues in the UK to maximise their chances of being rehomed we are soon to begin fundraising the prep costs as well, at £75 per dog, as it’s unfair to ask a rescue centre to pay for a dog they don’t then rehome.
“Each dog is neutered, vaccinated against parvo, distemper, and kennel cough and tested and treated for Giardia, Anaplasma, Heartworm, Borrelia, Ehrlichia, and Brucellosis. So they all meet the legal requirements for the importation of dogs from Romania.”
IDR dogs are only available to those living in mainland UK. Any dog that is adopted in Romania would be direct from the public shelter itself. These adoptees rarely end up living as adopted dogs in the UK live. Most end up living on the end of a chain as a guard dog or eventually end up being left to roam again.
Charlotte said: “Romania has a massive problem with stray dogs. The problems started in the 1980s when Nicolae Ceausescu aimed to industrialise Romania; people were forced to leave the countryside and move into cities.
“Houses were demolished to make way for apartment blocks and people had nowhere to keep their dogs, so many were abandoned on the streets. The dogs were left to breed, and the population increased rapidly. It is estimated that In Bucharest alone there are 65,000 stray dogs on the streets.
“There are no animal protection laws in Romania which is why the dogs suffer in the way that they do.”
Thanks to the support of volunteers, IDR has built a large social following. Most of the volunteers are based in the UK, one in Ireland, and another in Croatia. In the past, they had one in Italy. They also have friends in Romania who help them when required such as taking photos of the dogs for them.
IDR use their social channels to increase donations and adoptions (Image: IDR)
Charlotte said: “All our donations come from our supporters. They either send us money, or they undertake fundraising activities on our behalf such as raffles. We have also received some wonderful items from Rosewood pet products to use for fundraising activities.
“We hope in the future to develop a corporate sponsorship scheme and put on lots more of our own fundraising events.”
As IDR doesn’t have its own shelter yet, it does not employ any vets, but it has a wonderful relationship with the vet at the public shelter it works with. Charlotte said: “We wouldn’t have managed without her during lockdown. She has taken photos of the dogs, sent us assessments of the dogs, and worked extra hard to ensure our dogs are ready to travel.
“IDR would be nothing without our supporters, friends, and partners. We hope to expand so that we can help more dogs than ever, and we aim to become a charity in the next year.”
Anyone wishing to volunteer can email IDR at firstname.lastname@example.org
All the volunteers work from their own homes except those going on shelter visits (currently suspended), but they communicate via Facebook Messenger groups and online meetings and there’s lots of support available.
You can visit its webpage to find out more about adopting a dog and donations.