20 Aug

A History of Public Shelters

A History of Public Shelters

To understand the homeless dog crisis and the grotesque nature of public dog shelters in Romania (also referred to as PS on social media), you must know a little about the nation’s recent history. Following the 2nd world war, the Soviet occupation enabled a communist uprising and the overthrowing of the monarchy.

Until another revolution in 1989 and the toppling of dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu, much of Romania’s wealth was stolen by the Soviets or was lost to corruption. Romania became a very poor nation as a result and still remains one of the EU’s poorest members. The economic hardship meant a blossoming of illicit and illegal ways of making money – a secondary and seedy ‘black market’. One of the particularly upsetting and gruesome trades to emerge from this underground economy were/are public dog shelters. Historically, these ‘shelters’ were essentially abattoirs, within which dogs were brutally murdered, skinned, and dismembered for organic materials sellable within the fashion and cosmetics industries.

Under communism and Ceauşescu, the barbaric and disgusting practice of butchering dogs for their skin had kept the stray population in check. The collapse of the dictatorship meant a freer press, this, the emergence of the internet, Romania’s joining the EU, and wanting to appear civilized in the eyes of the west meant a welcome end to this grisly practice. However, in the 3 decades since, the homeless dog population has skyrocketed. The vast concrete jungles of the industrial complexes created and abandoned by the Soviets served as perfect breeding hubs for stray dogs, offering as they do some degree of shelter from the elements (Romania’s winters are cruel and summers, stifling). This boom in the stray dog population has ironically created a new market for public shelters.

Their income results from public funds, from the Romanian government who pay them according to how many dogs they can ‘remove’ from the streets. They do not care about the welfare of animals, they euthanize at any opportunity and there are no regular/unannounced inspections to hold them to account. The management does not care if the shelter has become a cesspit within which starvation, disease, and violence are commonplace. It is a frequent and tragic occurrence that previously healthy dogs are brought into shelters and soon die from easily preventable illnesses and injuries.

Public Shelters Now

This situation was made much worse in 2013, as public shelters became permitted to euthanize 14 days post-capture, after an alleged attack in Bucharest by a pack of stray dogs that resulted in a child’s tragic death. Gentle and submissive dogs are easily captured, leaving the aggressive and feral dogs to reproduce. Additionally, trap, neuter, and return became illegal in Romania in 2016, so taking dogs from the streets just means more resources for the dogs that remain in the wild. The only good outcome for dogs unfortunate enough to find themselves in a public shelter is the outside chance of adoption into a good home. However, owing to the repulsive conditions the chance of adoption is slim. The conduct of the government and public shelters has created a vicious cycle of an ever-growing stray dog population and new public shelters to take advantage of easy money murdering homeless dogs.

What ROLDA does to Help

In the meantime, ROLDA is adopting whenever possible from public shelters as life inside them is worse than in the wild. As often as we can, ROLDA takes dogs away from that nightmare into our shelter and search for a loving new home. Every year this represents only 5-10% of the number of dogs that ROLDA rescues. It is essential that dogs are removed from this toxic atmosphere as soon as possible. The longer they spend in these awful places the longer they are exposed to violence and disease. The experience many dogs suffer in public shelters impacts them for life in the form of psychological scars. These dogs require much more time and resources to rehabilitate – it can cost thousands of pounds in specialist care – some never recover to the degree they could be rehomed and many still remain in our care.

Public shelters are grotesque killing-houses that are a blight on Romania.

Even if public shelters were not the terrible places they are, it’s a pathetically inadequate solution to the crisis of over a 2.5million dogs currently homeless and vulnerable in Romania. ROLDA’s ultimate goal is to see that number reduce toward 0, with every dog one day in a happy home. 2.5million dogs cannot fit into public shelters. The issue must be tackled at its roots: stopping dogs breeding in the wild with humane and effective sterilization campaigns supported by educating the public, reducing abandonment rates, and creating clean and safe shelters from which dogs can be adopted. This task is of course an enormous undertaking and hugely expensive. ROLDA has only limited resources, especially following the economic fallout from the pandemic.

However, with the support of wonderful and kind supporters like you, we will achieve this goal!

Meet the newest dogs saved by ROLDA from public shelters

Join ROLDA in our Mission and Sign our Petition

ROLDA is pioneering a campaign to close all offending public shelters, hold their management to account, and lobby for regular inspections. The EU is aware of the desperate situation but remains indifferent, even if these places are a danger for both people and animals. Please sign our petition and spread the word for others to do the same; only public awareness and outrage will compel the EU to take action.

The EU has strict laws on animal welfare that Romania is in breach of allowing public shelters to operate as they do. The threat of sanctions and the withdrawal of EU funding would scare Romania’s government into action – money is the only thing they respect. To date, ROLDA’s petition has received 28061 signatures and aims to reach 50000.




You can also help us rescue more innocent pups from public shelters by:

Donating to ROLDA, allowing us to expand our physical and financial capacity to give vulnerable dogs safety, comfort, and affection

Become the sponsor of one of these dogs (and you have the opportunity to name them if you have a favorite dog name, or in memory of a past beloved pet).

Please help ROLDA be a rare beacon of hope for Romanian’s 2.5 million homeless dogs.


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