posted in: Dog Stories, General News | 2
In May 2014, Louise Edwards saw these pathetic photos of Maeve at Craoiva’s public shelter in Romania. The dog in the foreground was being rescued by a sponsor overseas, and Maeve just happened to be in the shot.
The photo was taken by a volunteer named Carmen Georgescu who visits public shelters in Romania and takes photos of dogs on “death row”. Compassionate dog lovers from around the world can view these photos on Facebook and have dogs pulled out of the public shelter, thanks to the dedication of volunteers on site in Romania like ISDF rescue partner Andrea Huszar.
Maeve’s eyes looked out of the photo and into the distance hopefully – and a continent away, Louise sat at her computer in the United Kingdom and her heart broke for this girl.
In a second photo, a volunteer was reaching through the bars to this poor soul who had been unsuccessfully hung to death and was now about to be thankfully sponsored to freedom and medical care.
Maeve, just a dog in the background, was desperately standing up and begging for any scrap of human attention…and she was doing this in a whole series of photos taken of this poor boy. She was crying out for help, in her own way and with such limited means.
Another photo from that time shows the long row of cages upon cages of dogs, waiting to die, on “death row” at this public shelter. Louise knew that for Maeve – as for all dogs on death row at Romanian public shelters – the clock was ticking away, ominously, minute by minute. Maeve would either be euthanized, or – a far worse fate, and a common one – she would be consigned to starve to death.
Employees at Romanian public shelters have been known to pocket EU funding for euthanasia medications, thereby supplementing their very tiny incomes. To further enable themselves to a living wage, they often also sell off government-supplied dog food rather than using it to feed their charges. The dogs, lacking both medication to be euthanized by injection and a food supply, are instead literally killed by slow starvation – a “free” death for the employees (unless you count the awful toll that should be extracted from their consciences).
Louise simply could not turn away from the horror she knew was coming. She reached out to Carmen who put her in touch with Andrea. Louise and several other Romanian dog rescue heroes – Joanne Gibson, Teresa Hicks, Elizabeth James, and Susan Jorgensen – made the heartbreaking commitment to choose seven dogs to sponsor and/or adopt out of that hell hole from so many pathetic faces. One was Maeve.
Ultimately, Louise and Andrea learned that two of the dogs in the Carmen’s photo album had tragically already perished. A third survived, but died of distemper shortly afterwards.
Maeve and three others, however, were not only pulled out…but survived.
Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 1.35.29 PM
Today, like so many other of their doggie peers – they remain safe, but not exactly “saved”. That is, they have left the brutal confines of the public shelter, have been vetted properly, as Maeve was…
Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 1.36.52 PM
Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 1.36.41 PM
…and are no longer in danger of cruel execution by neglect and starvation. However, there are simply SO MANY saved dogs from the Romanian public shelters…and so few places for them to go. The street dog epidemic of the nation, combined with a lack of permanent, safe homes for them to go to domestically, adds up to a tragic situation in which many dogs are pulled from public shelters only to live out the remainder of their lives in private shelters.
This is not to impugn the private shelters – comparatively, the lucky dogs who live there enjoy luxuries few of their brethren can even imagine. They often have a roof of some sort over their heads, even if no walls.
Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 1.37.20 PM
This helps shade them from the sun and protect them from most rain and snow. They often even enjoy rudimentary shelters – wooden dog boxes, some with straw or blankets – they can retreat to in inclement weather.
Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 1.36.29 PM
They have access to medical care and are isolated when ill – neither of which is offered in public shelter, where mixing healthy and ill dogs is actually the norm (this cuts down on overpopulation, in the most appalling of ways). They are spayed and neutered, and they are vaccinated. They no longer lack for food or water – and of course, they will never be purposely made to experience the absolute horror of being confined to slowly starve to death with no escape and no recourse until death.
But…for all the benefits that come with sponsorship, life in a shelter eventually boils down to – life in a shelter. Samaritans like Andrea visit sponsored dogs, pay for their ongoing care, and love the dogs up as much as possible, but there are never enough people to satisfactorily cuddle them all.
Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 1.35.58 PM
Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 1.37.27 PM
Andrea, for example, works a full time job and has a young, growing family of her own – still, she makes time as often as possible to visit a private shelter in Bucharest where many of her charges, such as Maeve, are housed. This is a challenge, among all her other acts of kindness for the dogs of Romania…
One long-term commitment that Andrea has pursued is seeking help for the dogs of her hometown of Petrosani. She solicits funds to feed the dogs who would otherwise starve, due to multilayered corruption. Since we all realize volunteers can only do so much to make life in a shelter feel like a life of love and family – the only real chance these dogs have of a happy ending, is a home to call their own. Therefore, she also works with a number of dog rescues in the United Kingdom, tirelessly seeking homes for her charges – and she is now reaching out to rescue groups in the USA, in hopes of expanding her overseas adoptive options (which is where ISDF comes in).

Andrea lives in the nation’s capital city of Bucharest, but as often as possible, and at least once a month, she leaves her family during precious time off work to make the six-hour drive one way – a half-day’s round trip total – from her current home to Petrosani, the town where she was born. There she visits both the poor souls at the public shelter, as well as dogs housed at a private shelter nearby.

With the help of a Facebook group, Help for Petrosani PS Dogs, Andrea is able to rescue some lucky ones, and the dedication of the group members funds the rest as much as possible, providing food, bowls, and pallets. You can see some of Andrea’s rescue and adoption outreach stories by visiting this group on Facebook, as well as checking out her Facebook page, Dare to Care.

In the future, the Petrosani PS group hopes to one day build their own private shelter in town to provide rescued public shelter dogs with the help and support they need in preparation for overseas adoption. Their plans with Petrosani’s city council often become bogged down in bureaucracy, but Andrea is always trying her best to speed the process along.
Meanwhile, it’s not all doom and gloom on the Romanian street dog situation – slowly and steadily, thanks to the dedication of people like Andrea on the ground, and thanks to the help of compassionate dog lovers internationally like Louise, Rebecca Ashworth of Canada (Maeve’s upcoming flight volunteer, who has made all her travel arrangements), and so very many more – change is finally on the horizon.
A dozen years ago, strays in Romania numbered in the hundreds of thousands. Spay and neuter surgery was unheard of for street dogs. Rabies was rampant.
A year and a half ago, the situation came to a head, as many dog lovers around the world will remember. Facebook was painted Red for Romania, as the government authorized a massive cull of all street dogs after a widely-publicized incident with an unsupervised child – which few believed had anything at all to do with street dogs. Renegades went wild and creatively and cruelly killed and tottered street dogs in retribution. Dogs were rounded up and brought to public shelters, where all were consigned to death in one week if unclaimed. Images of the cruelty that resulted from state policy flew through social media and the world finally began to sit up and pay attention.
Animal advocates in Romania reacted rapidly, using video images and camera phone photos to show what was really happening behind closed doors at public shelters across Romania. Besides shelter workers pocketing euthanasia funding and starving the dogs, they showed how dogs with deadly diseases were purposely mixed into healthy populations. They documented endless cages of dogs where water was purposely withheld, as dogs dehydrated to death – insult to injury, as most were already being starved. On the streets, advocates demonstrated how dogs actually produced money for the government, leading to multiple layers of corruption moving up the chain of command: as the EU funded for dogs to be rounded up, the government collected money, then looked the other way on purpose as dog catchers caught dogs, only to re-release them to be caught again (numbers were what mattered; not actual change). Some corrupt veterinarians, funded to spay and neuter, allowed dogs to return to the streets or sent them to public shelters without actually performing surgery (but after collecting their money).
These vicious cycles had been documented for years – but after the crisis of September 2014, people were finally paying attention, particularly EU taxpayers who were absolutely enraged to discover that their hard-earned money was in part funding this barbarism.
This gradual move in the right direction, however, is not going to happen fast enough for dogs like Maeve. The nation as a whole must still adjust their attitudes and views about street dogs. Spaying, neutering, and vaccinating is not yet widespread, so the street dog population continues to grow, despite the efforts of Andrea and her dedicated peers throughout the country. Humane education is still unheard of in Romania, though hopefully this too will come in the near future, particularly if worldwide pressure continues to grow.
In the meantime, however, Maeve and many of her friends sit and bide their time.
Maeve was supposed to die two years ago. She was on death row at Craoiva public shelter. Her water bowl would have been pulled, and her food as well – if she was even allowed access to food, before Louise’s intervention (none can be seen in her cage). It may have taken a few days or weeks, but she would have slowly weakened and her organs failed, one by one, until at last she would have fallen into an unending sleep.
Maeve would not even be Maeve – just another number at Craoiva PS, logged into a euthanasia binder – just a few more pennies of euthanasia funding for those assigned to ‘care’ for her. Her food, too, would have been sold off – more pennies into the pockets of the workers. It is easy to subject them to hatred, but the system itself is so rotten that they end up committing these heinous acts out of a need to make a living wage themselves. One big vicious cycle.
Instead, Maeve is here, now. Two years have passed and she eats a good meal every day, and has access to fresh water. She has a bit of corrugated roof over her head, and a small wooden box to bed down in when the weather turns bitter. She survived both distemper and demodex, both successfully treated immediately upon her arrival here…
…and she is now healthy and robust, fighting fit, for the past two years on.
She has come out of her shell and is a true little doggie these days – she used to be bossy with her closest dog friends, but only because she wanted nothing more than to play all day. Andrea takes Maeve out when she visits, along with some of her other charges, and when Maeve hits the grass, she will run, roll, and play with the joy of a puppy – knowing it may be a long time til she again feels the sun on her face and the grass under her paws, a long time again til she frolics with other dog buddies, and approaches in some small way, for brief happy moments, the normalcy she craves.
Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 1.36.17 PM
Maeve loves people and craves affection day and night, always trying to woo them to her for cuddles. She is energetic and smart as a whip – in a different world, Andrea envisions her jogging with an active family, or even pursuing agility, where she would be a natural.
Maeve is a spayed female, approximately 3 years old and weighing around 42 lbs. She will travel to the USA in early April with Rebecca Ashworth, and ISDF is now searching for the perfect forever family for Maeve to spend the rest of her life with.
Maeve’s story almost ended two years ago. Instead, it went into a holding pattern. She is alive – but not really living.
At long last, Maeve’s life is about to begin. Now she just needs someone to start it with.
Thank you for reading and sharing Maeve’s story. This sweet girl deserves so much after so long – thank you for helping us help her.
Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 1.35.48 PM
Screen Shot 2016-03-03 at 1.37.10 PM
If you are interested in learning more about Maeve, please contact Dawn Trimmel by email at or by phone at 414-426-4148. Thank you!

2 Responses

  1. Louise Edwards

    Izumi this is beautiful. I am in tears reading this. I must just say that you give me more credit than I deserve as there were others involved in saving the dogs that day from Craoiva- Teresa Hicks has sponsored Max and Jake ( now Steve and just homed with Joanne Gibson in N Ireland).little Feri, Maeves original companion in the Bucharest Shelter , is now with my friend Elizabeth James in the UK. Susan Jorgensen from Norway was sponsoring Feri and sadly the other dog of hers that died from Distemper. Andrea will know his name.
    Andrea Huszar is from Petrosani but now lives and works in Bucharest. At least once a month she goes to visit Petrosani PS and also the private shelter there. With the help of the group on Facebook Andrea rescues and we fund the PS dogs. The group also pays for their food each month. In the future we are hoping to be able to build our own private shelter in Petrosani to provide the dogs with the help and support they need to become pets for people who genuinely care for animals. Our plans are with the city council in Petrosani but seem to have become bogged down in bureaucracy. Andrea is trying her best to speed this process along.
    I want to say how wonderful Andreas commitment to these dogs is . She is an amazing lady and I am sure there are many others like her in Romania and Eastern Europe who never get the credit they deserve for the often heartbreaking and all consuming work they do on behalf of those poor animals who have no voice.

  2. Andrea Huszar

    such a beautiful story and I hope many people to see Maeve and offer her the right home – thank you so much Izumi for your nice words, it is so kind of you to write her story. Thank you Louise for sponsoring Maeve during all this time, she is such a beautiful girl who deserves a lovely home.