My response to the Guardian’s article “They look cute, but should we rescue Romania’s street dogs?”

Dear Sam,

I would like to respond to a few points you made in your piece “They look cute but should we rescue Romania’s street dogs?” – in particular, Dogs Trust’s health and behaviour criticisms, and explain why Romanian dogs are rightfully “a thing”.

First of all, Dogs Trust is naturally biased against other rescues – they want us to adopt from them. Adopters become donors, donors bring money. The UK’s first £100m charity knows that. Dogs Trust initially objected to the introduction of Lucy’s Law (the ban on third-party puppy sales to curb puppy farming), as exposed by vet and campaigner Marc Abraham. In the dog world, it is clear why: a rescue van outside a busted puppy mill is great publicity. The rescued pups get rehomed quickly, bringing in new revenue streams.

Bad behaviour

In your piece, Dogs Trust veterinary director Paula Boyden says Romanian dogs can have behaviour problems. This is curious because Dogs Trust prides itself in its rehabilitation programmes. Dedicated trainers and behaviourists work with homeless dogs to get them to an adoptable stage. These are British dogs. So, a charity spending extensive resources on working on behaviour problems of British dogs dismisses foreign dogs… for having behaviour problems?

Surely, it is right for any animal-loving organisation to help a dog in need. And when the animal comes from a country where barbaric cruelty against dogs is rife, a genuinely compassionate organisation should double down on efforts to give at least some of these dogs a chance of a happy home life.

Goldie and me on a training walk (this photo and the above: George Baxter)

Health cheque

The health issue raised by Dogs Trust is another argument built on very thin ice. My Romanian rescue dog was 4Dx snap tested for tick-borne diseases, heartworm, lyme, Ehrlichia canis (the bacterium that can cause leishmaniasis), the similar Ehrlichia ewingii, Anaplasma phagocytophilum (which can cause tick-borne fever) and Anaplasma platys before she was issued her pet passport. All these tests were included in my adoption fee of £275, which also included my dog being vaccinated, spayed, micro-chipped and transported from Romania to the UK.

When I registered my dog with a vet in London, I got a similar frosty reception to the one Dogs Trust would give owners of Romanian rescue dogs. My vet (part of a large chain) lectured me on the apparent risks of importing dogs and recommended more blood tests. While I was clearly had for £220, I did hand over my credit card after having been brow-beaten with the imported-disease argument. All my dog’s tests were fine, and I have since changed to an independent vet. I cannot help but fear this argument is part of the dog industry, to peddle unnecessary tests.

I ask Dogs Trust: what if a British dog travelled to the continent and brought back one of the diseases mentioned in your piece? Is that OK then, because the dog is British? Leishmaniasis is transmitted by sand-flies and more common on the Iberian Peninsula than in Romania; dirofilarial immitis is transmitted via mosquitos, so it could reasonably be transferred to any travelling dog. How can you be sure these diseases come in from Romanian dogs and not from British “tourist-dogs”? My Rommie has been tested. I am not aware of returning pets getting tested for all these things.

15,000 times “no”

As you mention in your piece, Sam, it is ridiculously hard to adopt from a large British charity. I work from home and have previous rescue-dog experience, time and space. I run an online dog magazine dedicated to rescue dogs – and yet, out of over a dozen enquiries I sent off to different charities when looking for my new dog, only two came back to me, both dealing with dogs from south-east Europe. One charity wasn’t reading my emails properly and came back with nonsensical replies, and the other was Romanian Rescue Appeal (RRA), the charity I adopted my dog from. For all the deafening silence from the others, including Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, RRA made up for it by responding quickly and kindly, reading my correspondence of experience and requirements, and ultimately making sensible decisions about which of my shortlisted dogs would be suitable.

When you adopt, it matters how a charity approaches the adopter. Not replying or dismissing potential adopters outright just means we will go elsewhere. If some 15,000 dogs were adopted from Romania last year, some 15,000 people had bad experiences with charities closer to home. I doubt a “no” from a charity has ever stopped anyone from getting a dog. And why should it? As you say in your piece, it is harder to adopt a homeless dog than getting a child into some expensive private school.

When “no” is right

To be clear, a “no” from a charity can be a good thing – if it is for the good of the dog. In my experience, the bigger charities are liable to tick-box exercises and refuse without proper consideration. A professional dog-walker I know was rejected by Battersea for a Staffie that needed a lot of exercise, because she didn’t have a garden. (She adopted from smaller charity All Dogs Matter the next day.) A professional couple with two children, a house and garden were rejected by the large charities because they “only” had a live-in au pair to look after both dog and children during the day. They adopted a dog from Spain. I could list dozens of examples like these where a mere tick-box became the reason for outright dismissal.

A valid “no” would be if the dog is genuinely happy where it is. I had fallen for a young bitch in RRA’s care, Gretel, who had adopted a litter of puppies whose mother passed away (never mind that it was more an emotional “adoption” than physical need). Gretel was actually happy in the kennel. We decided to leave her there.

Why wouldn’t you adopt this dog?

Puppy Brexiters

The reactions we get in the park do have the occasional xenophobic undertone. I call them Puppy Brexiters: “Why didn’t you adopt a British dog?” I might print the arguments on a card and hand them out, so many times have I had that conversation.

Adopting a family member is never a light-hearted choice people make. It’s a commitment for 10 years or more. What matters is that we fall in love with our dog and that the process is positive. We fall in love with people from around the globe and make it work – so why should it be different with our furry family members?

My Romanian dog is beautiful and street-smart. People stop me in the street to tell me how gorgeous she is. Goldie is incredibly friendly and has her own little quirks, from hiding treats in my plant pots to licking the morning dew off a park bench, if she is thirsty. She is a dog-dog, as village dogs are, because their DNA stems from a time before humans invented modern breeds. Rommies are wonderful, healthy, intelligent creatures – that’s why they are “a thing”.

My advice to future dog adopters

If you are reading this because you are thinking of adopting a dog (from wherever), here is my advice:

  1. Find your charity first, then look for your dog.
    Most dog rescue charities specialise in a type – for example, Battersea has a lot of Staffies, Many Tears Rescue in Wales has a lot of ex-breeding dogs, and there even are a few breed-specific rescue organisations. Each charity will home-check you first to see whether you are a suitable adopter. Because home-checks take a while to organise, there is a good chance “your” dog is gone by the time you are approved. You could get stuck in the home-check loop for a while. That is why I suggest picking one charity that has the type of dog you like, get home-checked, get approved, get to know the people – and then start looking with them. Once you are approved and the charity staff know what you would like, there is a good chance they will offer you a dog that has never been advertised on its website.
  2. Foster first.
    Think of fostering as test-driving before you buy. Foster for a good two weeks before you commit and ask what happens if it doesn’t work out. Ethical charities will take dogs back or work with you on rehoming your dog.  
  3. Have a network in place.
    So many charities place emphasis on having a garden, which is a red herring. What use is a garden, if the dog has no one to play with? A dog stuck in a garden on its own will be just as miserable as a dog stuck indoors on its own. Dogs are pack animals, and company is far more important. A dog-walker for an hour is not enough if you work all day. Build a network of neighbours, friends and fellow dog-owners for regular play dates. Dogs are wonderful social glue, so you will get to know new people in no time, and many of them will line up to look after your dog for a few hours.


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    Ruth Taylor

    We tried to adopt from a local kennels and were turned down, even though I am at home all day, simply because we told them we had a dog flap! They wouldn’t even consider coming to do a home check. We have a secure garden, woodland walks only 5 minutes walk from the house and a friendly, healthy older dog. In spite of everything in our favour, the dog flap was not acceptable.! We have since adopted a Romanian rescue dog who has no behaviour problems and who passed our vet’s health check with flying colours.

    • Nina May

      That’s wonderful to hear that you adopted a Rommie! The refusal stories never cease to amaze me though.

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      We have two rescues from abroad,one we adopted 2.5yrs ago from Rushton dog rescue. She is amazing in every way but took a bit of work to start. They offer lifelong support and a fab charity. We adopted Martha our second dog from Romania ,using evermore dog rescue. She has suffered much and is still a bit nervous of people,not us,after 5 months. But she has come such a long way. She’s excited to go to bed,excited to get up for breakfast,excited to walk out and even more so to come home. She appreciates her life now and although isn’t totally trust worthy yet ,she has brought much joy and I would recommend both these rescues as well as Amicili where my sons dog is from. We have had comments about rescuing from abroad,even from another rescue(English), but we have no regrets.

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        Marilyn Angell

        Thank you Judi, you’ve given Martha exactly what she needs, time, patience, love and boundaries; as a result, she’s making great progress. Every dog deserves the best life possible, wherever they’re from. Marilyn, co-founder of EverMore Dog Rescue

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      Alison Earley

      I have 4 dogs and a dog flap.. I work split shifts and always walk my dogs before I go to work . ALL of mine are rescue to some degree BUT I have a Rommie I started by Fostering and I totally agree that a lot of your regular rescues wouldn’t entertain giving us a dog BUT at the end of the day after what these street dogs have been through what we have to offer is a hell of a lot better that what they have experienced so far … if you can’t adopt from the UK because of all the obsticles they like to put in the way … adopt from abroad from a legitimate rescue is the way to go … and you could literally SAVE A LIFE !!!

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    Sally Baker

    I have 3 Romanian dogs in my group adopted separately over the years. My only comment is that I don’t think you should have brought Brexit into this even though it is for The Guardian. You alienated me immediately.

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    Paula Ormond

    I too have a Romanian rescue from Pawprints to Freedom he is smart, funny, loving healthy and most of all worth his weight in gold. Thank you for the article on Romanian dogs it’s true to form all what you have mentioned. Most of the dogs in Romania shelters are not treated very well unlike our Uk dog shelters who don’t do too badly from donations and who are not threatened with being put to sleep if they are still in the shelter after a couple of weeks hence why there are a few charities rescuing Romanian dogs and bringing them to the Uk all I say is thank goodness these charities exist . I have in the past rescued from the 2 main dog shelters here and they too were wonderful dogs so anyone put off by the judgemental UK people on why not to get a Romanian rescue dog please have a look on these rescue sites have a good read and decide for yourself not by being put off just because .

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    Gordon Wilkinson

    brilliant response, you hit the nail right on the head. Having been to Romania once with the PPTF I had the opportunity to see these dogs in so-called public shelters and I found it distressing and depressing to witness the conditions. I really do not know how this team ever can go back into them to rescue more, but they do for myself I could not go there again. I have fostered 3 so far that have gone on to their forever homes, all had their problems but no different to any other animal. Thankfully with time and understanding, they became the playful cuddly dogs that would grace any home. Thank you for your reply to this paper

    • Nina May

      Hi Gordon,
      thank you for your comment! I am also planning on going to Romania to see it for myself, although I dread it for the reasons you outlined. Fostering is such a great way to help – I’m sure none of “your” dogs will ever forget you.

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    Anna Sloman-Gowr

    I have three rescues, one is from RRA. All three have had their issues but the Rommie has required far more time and hard work and has tested every inch of our ability and patience. We adore all three of our dogs and have had good support from Romanian RescueI found this response to the Guardian excellent, well balanced and informative.

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      I do think that you should mention Brexit as many of the people who make comments about Rommie dogs are the same people who seem to dislike Eastern Europeans people!
      Many like the dogs until you say it is from Romania! That is my experience as a homechecker and a Mum to a lovely blind RRA dog.
      Another thing to mention about U.K. rescues is that they have age restrictions as well. Many older dogs could live happily with an older person.

      • Nina May

        The age point is very important, and you are so right to point that out. I would love to see more older persons and older dogs “coupled” up and sharing a gentle stroll around the park.

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        Hi. We have just rescued a Rommie puppy from a well known charity started by two British women. We already have a uk rescued dog who has been with us for 4yrs. We particularly wanted a young male dog as our dog( female) gets on better with males, it took nearly 2yrs to rehabilitate her due to several behavioural issues she came with so we wanted to start from scatch with a pup.. We were turned down by several uk rescue charities for various reasons. One our other dog is a staffy. Two we are both retired so not ‘young’ enough to take on a puppy, as ‘the dog might outlive us’ . We are both in our 60’s and walk 25+miles a week with our dog, go to the gym, and keep fit entertaining our grand/great grand chidden most weekends. We have many friends who have dogs so socialise on walks most days. We never had any replies from many of the charities we contacted. We have had our Rommie for 6 weeks now and carefully socialised him with our other dog. It is still a work in progress but she accepts him more each day. All in all we have given two dogs a safe secure home which is the most important issue

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    I now have 4 small romies and would not part with any of them. I was also ignored for a long time by British dog charities before I had my first one from Romania Rescue Appeal . I was disgusted at some of the excuses British charities came up with.

    My four romies come from different shelters in Romania but are now very happy together and I would not like to be without them. Thank you RRA from the bottom of my heart for giving me them and all the love they give me.

    British dog charities lost out and I would never go to them again in the future just to be ignored or receive comments without foundation. RRA take a lot of care to match a dog to a new owner, I have nothing but praise for them. When I tell people who stop me in the street where they are from, they say how well behaved they are and tell me stories of some British rescues which have not worked out.

    My advice is rescued Romies deserve as much love as we can give them.

    • Nina May

      Hi Maureen,
      that’s so wonderful to hear! RRA is indeed an amazing organisation, and I’m glad your dogs all get on well. I’m also jealous that you have four 🙂

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    Sue Klosinski

    We have 4 rommies too…they are the most rewarding lovable souls ever. Each had their ‘issues’ but given what some of them went through it is hardly surprising

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    I have been fostering dogs from Romania & Bulgaria for 4 adopted 2 dogs 1 cat from there also adopted a dog from EMRC England & one from the gypsies I am still fostering to help people get a dog as they cannot get one from here.People get home checked forms to fill in & get the right dog for the right family brilliant.I tried to adopt a GSD from RSPCA fine in till I said I had cats they said no I have had GSD Staffys Bull terriers street dogs & still have my cats I love to see when they get a loving home & look so happy also they keep in touch well worth what we do.♥️

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    i was refused a dog from my local rescue because my dog was “overweight”-(she came from the same rescue)-so I put her on a diet and she lost 8kgs but the rescue still would not let me adopt a dog from them so I looked elsewhere and came across a Romanian rescue and have had my beautiful girl just over two years.from the terrified little thing she was -she is now a fully confident dog with her “quirks”.would do the same again when the time comes.

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    Nikky Humphreys

    I have 2 Romanian rescue dogs. I got my fur babies from seven strays rescue. I hadn’t had a dog for 13 years while my children were still growing up and life was too hectic and when I decided I had time for another dog (only planned to have 1) I was told that there could be a 2 year wait through dogs trust if I wanted a puppy! My boys were 4 months and 11 months when I got them and they are amazing, I’ve not had any negative comments about them being from Romania or if I have I haven’t noticed because quite frankly I couldn’t care less what anyone else thinks. These boys have completed our family and I wouldn’t change them for the world.

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    I too encountered problems when looking to rescue a dog in the Uk. Although I rescued mine from a rescue centre in Gran Canaria; many of the points you raised and those who have left replies struck home with me. The conditions the dogs are in over there are not like those here at home. Some people have made the same comments to me about re homing a dog from abroad and my replies have been similar. I just wanted to say although the article was referencing Romainian dogs; that it happens with dogs from other places abroad and that rescues here make perfectly acceptable people look elsewhere.

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    Thanks for writing what I was thinking! I was so angry after reading the Guardian article- I too have adopted a beautiful rommy as well as a dog from Cyprus, they are both wonderful and much loved members of our family and I defy anyone to say that I should not have adopted them! They have needed time and patience AS EVERY RESCUE DOG NEEDS WHATEVER NATIONALITY THEY ARE but it has been worth every second

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    Sue Mullins

    Your reply to The Guardian is spot on. I had a similar experience at my vet when registering my first Rommie. I was really scared until I checked with the rescue charity and they reassured me. Then I was angry that I’d been told off by the vet. She was a locum so not there next time I went otherwise I’d have had words with her. I took on a second Rommie last Oct, she is 18 months old and lived in a kennel since birth. I adore her although she has a lot of anxieties and fears. It’ll take time but she is worth the effort.

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    Well said, I adopted two Romanian dogs and I’m fostering another and help Romanian Rescue with home checks for prospective adopters, they do wonderful work. And in the past I’ve adopted from British dog charities, I’ve been very lucky with positive responses when I’ve said they come from Romania and our vet practice has been great with them too.

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    Same story with us, a lifetime of rescue dogs but we were deemed not fit to adopt from either dogs trust or rspca even though our vet gave us glowing references. So we went and rescued 1 from a house in Leeds, 2 from Serbia and are due to get anther from Serbia next month. All came with clearance of any disease, spayed,chipped and vaccinated. Each one has a different personality and they are all melded together with us as one family. Over the years we have always had rescue dogs 10 in all overlapping, 2 were 19 + 20 yrs old when they passed and our oldest now is 15+. Dogs trust said we couldn’t adopt but of course you can sponsor, says it all. And they say they will never put a healthy dog down but what about some of the others who could given a home, not everyone wants a perfect dog some of us are willing to take less lucky ones.

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    I have three rescue dogs from Cyprus and get the same reaction from quite a few people. I went to see a dog at the Dogs Trust in Bridgend, there was a queue wanting him and they told people the 8 month old pup, who had been thrown out because the older dog wouldn’t play with him, couldn’t be rehomed with young children even if they visited. They wouldn’t explain why. When asked why they didn’t put that info on the website (I rang the day before and they couldn’t tell me anything except the first suitable applicant would get the dog so be there when they open) they said nobody would come, and asked me if I would consider one of the other dogs. As the only low shedding one had serious issues there were none suitable.

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    Thank you for taking the time to write this! I agree with every single point you’ve made. I was quite frankly horrified, but not at all surprised at the original article as we too have met a lot of “puppy brexiteers” when out walking our Rommie 🙄.

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    I work with a charity that brings dogs from a shelter in Romania @amiciidogrescue and the experiences of many of our adopters are as you describe above. We have brought nearly 3000 dogs to the UK over the last 5 years and have relatively few dogs with serious behaviour problems and very few indeed with health issues (most of those that have come have long term conditions or disabilities which are known before they leave Romania and they come with our full knowledge). Smaller charities such as RRA and Amicii provide a very personal adoption process and take time to carefully match adopters with dogs. I won’t comment on what I think about the Dogs Trust position which is entirely dominated by the veterinary profession and is not about a human or humanitarian approach to animal welfare. Suffice to say they are extremely powerful and wealthy, but hopefully their biased view will not be allowed to affect the efforts of genuine dog lovers who act responsibly and professionally to save dogs’ lives.

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    I have rescued 3 Rommies. One unfortunately had to be pts because of spinal problems. The two I have were both in their twilight years when I adopted them.
    Yes, we have had behavioural problems, mainly due to trust issues, lots of love and commitment soon sorted this. Would I adopt another Rommie? Too bloody right I would. Even the dogs in rescues over here are living in luxury compared to the Rommie dogs in rescues who have to live outside and endure extreme weather, live on the best that can be provided food wise, and get little to no affection because there are so many of them.

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    Kathryn Merry

    I have had rescue dogs over the years and at the moment have a cute sheltie and a pedigree GSD. Both given to me because they were no longer wanted….6 month and 12 month! Their loss because years later I have 2 superb, that were given away, dogs plus I have gone on to bring over a Romainia dog. After 2 years she is settling well and of my 3 dogs she’s the one that I feel life has changed drastically for. She appreciates everything I do and give her. ❤

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    What a wonderful article.
    We have 2 rescue dogs from the meat trade in china and they are the most wonderful, kind, loving and funny dogs ever. My mums dog is from China and she is also fostering an abused galgo from Spain at the moment. It’s amazing the love they have for humans after such abuse.

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    Horses for courses here I think. Firstly I have no issues whatsoever adopting dogs from the dogs Trust, had six so far.. never a problem and I work !!! YES they do know…. I have directly been involved with bringing Romanian dogs into the UK. The first point is a dog is a dog and we should not discriminate, these street dogs have the most horrendous lives. However some of these overseas rescuers do not take good care of their dogs.. some set themselves up just to make money out of supporters predominantly in other countries.. there have been many posts on facebook showing the conditions these dogs live in and indeed some are starved to death despite there actually being food paid for bu people in other countries.,… For some it is a racket. There is an EU animal welfare group made up of large charities from many countries, Dogs Trust is one of them, carrying out mass neutering campaigns and vaccination to try and control the overall situation at source.. this group works directly with trusted vets in these countries. I have seen first hand the other side to overseas so called dog rescue, I lost, personally £1700 on one dog who came over to the UK who was sick upon arrival here.. after all that he died ! It’s easy to look at this situation form one perspective but i urge you not to. It is NOT the dogs fault and we should do everything to support them, however we are seen as soft and gullible. There are some fantastic overseas rescuers but there are equally many who are conning us.. I am sick of being hassled for money to support their life style choice.. this is NOT a straight forward situation and before you comment it would be good to thoroughly investigate, as I currently am.. So my advice is for everyone to support this EU group who are trying to make a difference to the entire situation which will ultimately affect thousands of suffering street dogs. The situation is political and needs strength from within supported by the bigger well established charities to break this appalling neglect and abuse… The dogs are innocent victims..

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    I have just adopted a Rommie dog as a companion for my English GSD after I had to say a final good bye to his friend. Both dogs get on fine and The Rommie is absolutely gorgeous.

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    I really liked your article, and you have clearly done your research! I have fostered a dog from Spain and will be adopting my own later this year, and I am so sick of all the judgement I get from friends and colleagues! I will be qualifying as a vet in july, and the amount of negativity I receive from other people in the vet profession about adopting a foreign dog is ridiculous. This breed of dog fits perfectly into our lives. Like you say, rescues in the Uk make it close to impossible to adopt, and majority of their dogs won’t be rehomed with cats or young kids, two requirements of mine.

    You are exactly right that there is a risk with importing diseases with British dogs holidaying abroad. The risk is slightly lower as these dogs will have the necessary parasite control on board, but still, the risk is there! And the reason the vet would have wanted to re-test your dog was because some diseases like Leishmania can have a long incubation period which can be several years, so testing negative at time of adoption does not necessarily mean they are in the clear. But as long as owners are aware of this and continue to monitor.

    Have you noticed that a lot of the negativity comes from people who have BOUGHT puppies? They haven’t even rescued a dog themselves, and are encouraging the overbreeding of unhealthy pedigrees! That gets my goat!

    I fully support finding the right dog that fits in with an adopter, and if that happens to be a dog from abroad then go for it!!

  25. Nina May

    Please explain how I am no different to Dogs Trust.

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    Mrs Jeanette Booty

    I have 3 Romanian rescue dogs of large breed, they are just wonderful animals ,and so pleased to have a home, warmth, and food with love. They are not allowed to leave their country till everything is done, wormed flees and parvo jab, and rabies jab, they are spayed also. Then micro chipped and have their own passports, not bad for 300 quid I have to say. My Vet is great, says what wonderful dogs they all are. They live with a high spectrum autistic child they are great with, there is no need to fear them they are just like English dogs need a home. I have for 40 years had Danes all bought at a high price, and I could have bought another or gone to Dane rescue again. I discarded to have a change, and loving dogs as I do thought these will be the last opened my heart and gave 3 a home. I do not regret any of it, and if I had a larger grounds would take 2 more. Do not be too ready to listen to all the crap ,they just want rid of the ones here is homes and recues, and to obtain donations for them, I do give to rescues in uk, but more happy to help fund the ones in Romania as they don’t get much help. They do a very worth while job re homing street dogs, who are so happy to get a new family. don’t shop home a rescue here or abroad, their countries are very cruel ears cut off tails beaten with sticks abused sexually they go through hell poor babies. but they are no different to our dogs here, What matters what country they come from all animals deserve a home

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    Brilliant piece. We have a three legged partially sighted 18 mths old Rommie rescue. If he hadn’t been saved he’d no doubt be dead. He has slotted in with our 4 dogs and is an angel. Well behaved and well adjusted. He deserves a chance in life like any other dog and It matters not where they’re from.

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    Stephanie Edwards

    I got my first Romanian dog as companion to my rescue dog from a UK national charity who had gone blind. My UK dog cost me thousands over his lifetime for eye problems and an incurable skin condition, not the fault of the charity but I hadn’t known when taking him on. My Romanian girl has only cost me the price of her annual vaccinations over the last six years. She was a day away from death in a hell hole of a Romanian public ‘shelter’ but she is the most wonderful, gentle dog I have ever owned and I love her to the moon and back. I went on to adopt two more Romanian rescues because I saw the sheer extent of suffering and cruelty these dogs go through. It had nothing to do with ‘cuteness’, it had everything to do with a compassionate response to the extreme suffering I was witnessing. And yes, I help fund neutering programmes too, but there are dogs already living who need our help. One of my dogs had separation anxiety which we have worked through, the other is a timid girl who struggles with coping with a world which has taught her to fear; we take life slowly, at her pace. Dogs at Dog’s Trust, Blue Cross etc. also have separation anxiety or trust issues. Any prospective owner of a rescue dog must be aware of and prepared to meet the needs of the dog they are taking on whether it is from the UK or abroad. ALL dogs need commitment, even bright eyed puppies who chew your furniture. All 3 of my Romanian dogs have never been unwell or needed to go to the vets for any health problems. My timid girl went for her vaccinations recently and my vet was kind and caring with no judgemental remarks and we discussed and made careful arrangements beforehand to keep everything stress free for her. No vet should judge about where the animal they are treating comes from. Just treat and care for them as any animal, and no owner should be subject to negative and judgemental attitudes for giving a home to an animal in need. If you have done this and are facing negativity from others, be proud of yourselves for having saved a life and changed it for the better, for it is you can look in the eyes of your dog and know that you have helped it.

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    At last! A well researched balanced article defending the oversea rescues. Thank you!
    Reading it was like a replica of my experience. I have had rescue dogs for over 25 years from various charities including The Dogs Trust and Forever Hounds Trust and yet when I was looking to adopt another (after losing 2 within a short time to cancer) I was refused. Nothing in my personal life had changed, I worked in a vets, my pack came to work with me in the morning and in the afternoon were left in a heated conservatory with a dog flap to large garden. I tried many other rescues in the UK, the majority didnt even reply! Currently I have 4 dogs…Sica from Romania through Good Karma rescue, 2 podencos from Spanish charity GPAR and Lucy an irish lurcher originally from Forever Hounds Trust. I face the “why adopt from abroad” question all the time, and I know my vet colleagues dont agree either, yet my dogs have all been blood tested and health checked prior to travel so are probably some of the healthiest canines in the UK.
    During my working day I see so many puppies bought for a silly amount of money. They are usually a mix of 2 or more breeds or the latest trend of bulldog or french bulldogs from a non regulated person only in it for the money or to allow their bitch to have at least one litter before she is neutered. These amateur breeders usually dont offer the post adoption support offered by good rescue groups, they probably wont take the pup back in 8 months should circumstances change and they rarely do home checks or ask the obvious questions about the pups future home …yet people continue to buy them! My heart sinks when you see a brachial breed with obvious health issues being bred to produce even morr pups who are deemed to spend their lives struggling to walk or breathe.Dont even get me started on the number of people still duped into buying what is obviously puppy farmed dogs. Dogs that are bred in horrendous conditions, puppies that are sick or have potentially lifelong deformities..and worryingly the increasing trend of smuggling these puppies from outside of the UK. These unregulated unvaccinated dogs will be be the source of any foreign dog disease brought into the UK NOT the dogs adopted from reputable rescues.
    What matters is not where our dogs were born but what inconcievable cruelty we are saving them from!
    #AdoptDontShop #RescueWithoutBorders

    • Nina May

      Hi Sam,
      thank you so much for your detailed comment! I would love to hear any ideas on how to change the preconceptions in the vet community, and it sounds like you are very well placed to share further insights on this. If you have any ideas, please do email me via the Contact Us form.
      All the best,

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    Karen pemnle

    I have had my gorgeous romanian res cued street dog 3 years.and she is my world. I was angry when i read about dogs trust comments about bejaviour problems .i was expecting “boo’ to have them after the way she had been treated in the pound. And at first she came to meet me timid and shy crawling across the floor.but after couple of weeks she became the wonderful dog she is today .she is my best friend. She is the most loveing dog ive had the privalege of owning .i got her from the brialliant beacon animal rescue kent

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    Joanne Harvey

    We rescued our dogs from Spain via a local rescue, Leash of Life, as they were the only ones who responded to the numerous emails sent out to local, well-known UK rescues. They bring G in rescue dogs from Spain and Romania. They walked us through the process, we fostered first and the rescue are still part of our lives. We continue to support them and now raise awareness for the Spanish Podenco, which is the type of dog we adopted.

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    Sharon Brown

    What an excellent article. I tend not to read anything in the British press anymore as I find it to be generally ill-informed, biased and badly written so wasn’t aware of the original article until I was directed to it.
    I currently have 4 rescue dogs – 1 from Battersea, 2 from Cyprus and 1 from Romania. They are all equally wonderful and live a happy life as a pack. As I work full time I have a dog walker who takes them on long interesting excursions twice every day, and we do the same at weekends. They are our world. They are completely healthy and our wonderful local independent vets have been totally supportive, treating each one as an individual deserving of love and a family.
    Despite the fact I earn sufficient funds to pay for all of this, most British charities will not consider us as potential adopters because we work (our Battersea girl came to us when my husband worked shifts) so I choose to dedicate my time to help all those volunteers- many of whom are not part of registered charities but are just genuine animal lovers trying to make a difference – by fundraising, fostering and adopting and generally trying to raise awareness – adopt don’t shop.
    Keep up the good work and big cuddles for your gorgeous Rommie

  33. Avatar

    I sponsored a dog originally in Pallady in Romania for 10 months, it was just love at first sight for me and I knew I had to help getting her out of Pallady. Fast forward to December I heard a few of the oldies with my dog (Lady) had died in foster. That was enough for me I wanted her out away from the not so nice fostered. When she came out I saw the first pictures of her in months she looked a lot thinner and so so sad and bedraggled I just sobbed. Anyway needles and passport all sorted she leaves for Liverpool on the 8th of March, I just can’t wait to meet my Rommie Lady.

    • Nina May

      Hi Rita,
      thank you for sharing your story – and good luck with Lady’s arrival. Goldie Wunderdog arrived in the UK on 11 March, so perhaps they will share an adoptaversary! Nina

  34. Avatar

    I have two Romanian dogs and they have settled in so well and no behavioural problems and are so loving, I worry the dogs trust like so many charities has become so far removed from the heart of what we all want and that’s for dogs to be loved cherished and not harmed for many years I supported the Dogs trust but became disillusioned as they wanted more and more money and sponsorship , my dogs are healthy happy and I would always rescue a dog and especially from Romania where they have such sad lives Thank you for your articicle

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    Thank you for your reply. I suppose as much as vets all have a genuine love for animals they are concerned as professionals what awful diseases could potentially be brought into the UK , predominately Rabies. Unfortunately all foreign dogs cause this knee jerk concern. I suppose the only thing that would change their opinions is statistics….statistics that it is the illegally imported dogs that are putting our country at risk, not the foreign rescues from reputable rescue societies

  36. Avatar

    What a fantastic piece, my wife fundraiser for some of the Romanian rescues as well as one or two of the UK ones.
    I noticed you spared your readers one of the harsh realities of the Romanian dog issue, that is when they decide to dispose of these poor animals. (For that is what it is). It is not done in the humane way it is in this country. They are more often bludgeoned to death. Would we sit back and do nothing if this were an endangered species? We have the benefit of hugely funded rescues run by overpaid executives in this country. A life is a life, no matter where that life may be.

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    Polly Xanthos

    A very good response and I too know that some of the UK charities make potential adopters jump through hoops . Due diligence is essential but box ticking exercises and rigidity of rules I am sure means many dogs in the care of such charities miss the opportunity of very good homes . I also know people refused by UK charities who have simply abandoned the ideal of a rescue dog and resorted to buying a puppy from a breeder .
    I don’t really understand the “vet issue” that some people experience .I have moved house a couple of times in the nine years of helping /fostering/adopting dogs from Eastern Europe so have used three different vet practices . No vet has actually enquired on the origin of any dog I have simply volunteered the information if relevant and received no adverse reaction from any of them . Sadly I do believe that the increasingly poor image of “foreign” rescue dogs stems not from “Brexit attitudes” but from the over enthusiastic somewhat irresponsible UK rescues who send unassessed dogs to inexperienced adopters . Many dogs taken off the streets or out of kill shelters are simply not socialised enough to go straight into your average family home . The dog is bewildered in such a strange environment and sometimes presents issues with which the adoptive family can not cope . So my advice would be to thoroughly check out the UK rescue who have brought the dog over and above all ask whether they will be prepared to take the dog back if the adoption fails for whatever reason . This is an essential safety net for both adopter and dog. It is also better to be able to meet the dog in a UK kennel or foster home first to assess for mutual compatibility rather than select from a photo and have the dog delivered straight from abroad to your home especially if you have other family members and or pets to take into consideration.

  38. Avatar
    Samantha Robinson

    I have always had at least 2 rescue dogs since I left ‘home’ many years ago. During that period I have worked full time, had dog flaps, young children etc… I have rescued from Battersea, Bath Cats and Dogs Home, the RSPCA and lately Leash of Life, (lol) bringing in Romanian dogs, of which I now have 4, 3 of which are failed fosters, ie ones we only meant to foster for lol. All my rescues over the years have had ‘issues’, to be honest the ex UK breeding farm one had the most, but we have worked through them supported by the rescue associations I have to say. Maybe we have been lucky, but have good experiences with all, from working with the chase instincts of an Akita, the ‘wreck’ that was the ex breeding farm border collie, an abuse black mongrel, and lately a distemper survivor. We are advocates of adopt don’t shop and to be honest don’t care from where they all need homes, and a lot have issues, but which ones of us don’t.. .

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    Many Tears is NOT a charity. Ask them for their Registered Charity number for the Rescue, find their published details and accounts, as all charities have to make their accounting public. You will not find it because they are a business. They may do good helping many dogs, but they are not a charity. Too many people misquote them as a good charity, they are not. There are many charity dog rescues that do a lot of really good work. The owners of Many Tears are very good at marketing their ‘business’ don’t be fooled otherwise.

    • Nina May

      Hi Anna,
      Thank you for your comment! You are correct that MTR is not a registered charity, however I have visited the site and interviewed the founder, Sylvia. She explained she does not want to be a registered charity, because she would have to install a board, which might take over the running or direction of MTR. Make of it what you will – I am just passing on this information.
      When I visited, I was impressed with how well the kennel was run. No matter if a charity or not, it felt like a place that helps dogs in need.
      Thank you again for your comment,

  40. Avatar
    Lin Crawford

    What a well written and accurate article. My daughter fosters and rehomes Beagles from Cyprus .. which is where I live, and openly admits if she were to try and adopt a dog in the UK she would be refused .. she works .. but my God my daughters seven dogs could not have a better home. She is up at 5.30 to walk them all in two sessions .. as soon as she gets home she walks them again and at night time .. they are kings and queens in her house and all have pet insurance and given the best of everything. They are like children to her and yes she has two of those too who are just as dog mad as she is .. oh and mustn’t forget the two cats .. I myself rescue cats and yes lots of mine go to the UK and Europe. I have 6 flying in the next week to the UK and if you were to ask my adopters about their cats they will tell you they have a wonderful nature .. something about these Cypriot cats. So loving and friendly. Our saying is a cat is a cat a dog is dog .. it does not matter where it was born it has only one life as we do and if we can save them we do … without prejudice . I am afraid I have said for a long time shelters in the UK shoot themselves in the foot all the time. Our home checks are a little more giving and most turned down in the UK go elsewhere as the article says. If they want a dog they will get a dog ..

  41. Avatar

    I have a Rommie, my first dog called Bennie whom I adopted from the UK based charity Balkan Underdogs. He is an absolutely amazing dog, affectionate from the moment I collected him from kennels. I have had him just over three years, (he’ll be 6 years old next April according to his passport). Yes, took me approximately 2/3 months to house-train him but that’s all. The support network from the charity is amazing, we are just like a family and offer advice when faced with problems. I would recommend adopting a Rommie without hesitation.

  42. Avatar

    Hey – this is the article we have been waiting for!

    I run a rescue specialising in mainly romanian dogs (we also seek to do emergency UK foster for people in crisis) – and have visited a couple of times.

    We are planning our next trip for November and Ruff Start Rescue would love to have you join us if you wanted.

    Brexit is important to note – very important – because if we crash out with no deal the dogs in Romania will have to take a titre test after their rabies vaccination and then stand for 120 days minimum before travel.

    This means every dog in a shelter on a kill list right now today will die before they get out – that is thousands of dogs.

    Currently Ruff Start Rescue is trying to get as many as we can into foster homes before the end of March. We wont let brexit stop us – but it will be heartbreaking to know that dogs we tried to home could die because we couldnt get them out in time.

    I would caution readers against assuming all romanian rescues are great – there are some less than salubrious ones and as you say do your research – ask for information, gauge your replies and see how they interact with you. Myself and my co founder are always on hand 24/7 for any of our adopters or fosters and dont just delegate stuff out to anonymous admins and then take the glory.

    I myself have three Romanians in my pack of six – my least well behaved dog?? The only one Ive ever had from a puppy and a British dog!!

    Having seen first hand the conditions out there – the way they suffer and how much our rescue contacts struggle myself and my co founder Louise will never EVER give up on these dogs. Our motto is ‘💜 Ruff Start Rescue – Giving every dog the chance to have their day 💜’ – because we believe they all deserve that, even if as you rightly pointed out that outcome is staying in Romania in suitable accommodation but with good food and care when needed.

    Thank you again for your article xx

    • Nina May

      Hi Emma,
      thank you so much for your comment! Please, could you get in touch via the contact form about the trip in November? It would be great to go with you!
      As for Brexit, there are indeed grave implications concerning travel of animals.
      All the best,

  43. Avatar
    Rachael lovitt

    We are great dog lovers and have always had dogs our kids are 5 and 8 and very dog savvy as us and all family have dogs but most turned us down just on hearing our children’s ages,wouldn’t even consider seeing them with a dog to know what they like,and my hisband works full time me part time but wouldn’t listern that we dif shifts,only 2 days a month the dog would be left for a working day but would have our other as company. we have a staffy and he missed our other dog Henry when he passed so wanted another,in the end we adopted from Spain from caninechumstolove and couldn’t be happier with our 1 year old ted!! They were polite,and litermed to everything we told them,house check passed with flying colours.would def adopt from abroad again and our vet was very supportive too as she’s had romaian rescues in past

  44. Avatar
    Kim walker

    We have our beautiful Rommie Roma who we adopted from PPTF we had tried to adopt from UK shelters there was never any suitable dog for our family we started to look at other options and read lots about Romanian Street dogs and this is what we chose. Roma was already in Foster when we adopted her at 6mths so when she came to live with us she was adapted to family life! Roma is the most amazing cross breed we have had absolutely no behavioural issues with her she is very much loved by our 2 children 7-11 she has fitted into our family perfectly we couldn’t ask for a better dog! We saved our dogs life a life she deserves to have and we are all very proud to have done that.

  45. Avatar

    Me and my husband adopted a Romanian dog from UK dogs home. We went to the dogs home, fell in love with this dog and was informed she is a rommie. This made no difference to us adopted her. She had all her checks done and passed them all. She is well behaved loves her cuddles!

  46. Avatar
    Kate Waldron

    I apologise for this long comment, but I do feel strongly about this subject! We have a beautiful 1.5 yr old Rommie called Maisie. I have had a mixture of responses when I mention that she is from a shelter in Romania. Most understand how badly they can be treated over there and think it’s brilliant that we are helping them, but others have said to me “we have so many dogs here looking for homes, so why bring more over?” (These people didn’t even have rescue dogs I hasten to add!). She came to us almost exactly one year ago. A month before we adopted her, we lost our beloved 14/15 yr old RSPCA rescue to cancer, who we had adopted when he was around 7-8 months old. We were totally devastated and wanted to adopt another dog quite quickly, as hated living without a dog in our home. I registered with all the local dog rescues and also ones further afield in the UK. I had never even thought of adopting a dog from abroad – it hadn’t ever crossed my mind to be honest. I run a dog walking business and was looking for a dog who would be able to accompany me on lots of the walks I do each day and so they needed to be good with other dogs and pretty athletic! I found Dog’s Trust to be quite dismissive when I enquired about a gorgeous little Lab x Collie. We had a holiday booked around 3-4 months from when I enquired – I explained it was actually our holiday house in Cornwall which we own and rent out for holidays and so we regularly holiday there with our dog. I was told (in quite a blunt manner) to wait until after our holiday and try again then. I was quite upset, as I knew we could offer a dog the best home – they would never be left alone (maybe an hour or so once or twice a week) and would get so much love and exercise, with me being a dog walker! I then enquired about a lovely 2 year old dog (who happened to be from Romania originally) who was in a rescue centre, called Barney’s animal rescue in Manchester, They were so lovely and polite and replied very quickly to say that unfortunately he wouldn’t be suitable for me, as he would need a very quiet life! They mentioned they had some younger pups being rescued from a shelter in Romania and they sent me some info/ pics. That was it – we fell for her, as she looked like our beloved Billy who we had just lost! I was a little terrified when they mentioned she was actually in Romania and that she would come straight to me (not foster first). They informed me that they would be on hand for any support along the way and they were so helpful and reassuring. I do not regret a thing and we love Maisie to bits. She has come so far. She was so scared of everyone and everything when she arrived (apart from me thank goodness). She is sooooo intelligent and easy to train. So many people comment on how beautiful she is too. I have heard quite a few stories of how people have tried to adopt, but don’t quite tick all the boxes and so buy a puppy from a breeder instead – so sad 😢. I totally understand that they are just adhering to rules and regulations, but I can’t help thinking that so many dogs are missing out on wonderful loving homes because of this.

  47. Avatar

    I run my own very very small foster based rescue. I can tell you that yes dogs can enjoy the company of other dogs, but please don’t forget those that do not. These are perfect as only dogs and prefer to be only dogs. I help Romanian dogs, previously dogs from the Azores and I also help UK dogs, there are no boundaries to rescue. I help cats too. I personally have adopted 2 Romanian dogs and one Spanish dog I have 2 Romanian cats and 3 Spanish cats. I also have a very old UK dog. So rescue has no boundaries. I will say though when adopting be prepared to work with your foreign dog, don’t give up at the first hurdle, the love they return as a rescue is immense and so wonderfully satisfying.

  48. Avatar
    dee gower

    We too have 5 romanian dogs rfescued over the last 2 years. They do have small problems due to treatment they have received previously but nothing that a loving patient owner cant put right. I have had a problem with my vet who I had been with for 13 years because she dared to tell me of all the horrible diseases they were bringing over putting our dogs at risk. All my dogs have been vaccinated and could not be healthier. I know the suffering of these poor dogs over in Romania and want only to help save some sadly not all. People have small minds including professionbal vets and the people on walks who beieve we should rescue British dogs first but our dogs live in luxury when rescued compared to conditions in Romania except of course when they are rescued . Newspapers print a lot of rubbish anyway that is why I dont buy or read them

  49. Avatar

    Hi, I read this and posted the below on my facebook.
    Trying to be careful about this post as don’t want to seem too opinionated (maybe the twig has changed me!)Seriously though, having read this article (please read it) and seen the comments from the countries largest dog charity – The Dog Trust, and their ‘leading’ VET and campaigner, I wanted to merely share my own experience of the UK’s dog charities that I contacted before successfully rescuing our Romanian street dogs – who btw I feel deserve a great life just as much as a dog from the UK or the bloody moon!
    The dogs trust – I emailed 3 times getting no response at all over a two week period.
    Bulldog rescue – filled in all their online forms – no response ever.
    Blue cross – I was told there was no one able to do a home check for a few months.
    Bleakholt – I can’t even put in to words how bad this experience was, and only a few weeks ago I tried again with them for my mother in law and got the same almost anti re home attitude from them, came home, used a facebook group I am in and got my mum in law a dog that weekend who now has a loving home.
    Another regional dog rescue – Told me that due to having no secure yard they would not allow me to apply for a rescue dog – I guess backing on to 35 acres of wonderful land and already having 4 dogs was just not enough hey!
    Then I sent an email to a Romanian charity Charlotte Leech is their UK representative, she called me within the hour (on a Saturday) and arranged for a home check the following week Sally Cottingham which was about 2 hours of serious questions around how as a family we would care for a dog, how we feed, exercise, afford, treat and approach looking after dogs. We passed! From that day onwards the charity funder in Romania worked with me to find the right dog, kept me informed of all its health checks (way more than we do in the UK by way of jabs etc btw), sent me videos of its growth as it was a young puppy, guided me through all the travel arrangements, legal requirements, paperwork and finally arranged the adventure travels for our little legend Ruby who travelled over with a wonderful carer who has done this for dogs since she was 14 yrs old because she loves them. We had such an amazing settling in period with Charlotte Leech & Sally Cottingham & Claudia Dumitru keeping a close eye, calling and emailing to check in, and placing us in lovely FB groups of other adopters and fosterers for lots of support and shared ideas etc. Our UK vet commented on the high amount of jabs and checks for illness and disease that Ruby had gone through and was really impressed and happy with the info. We loved Ruby so much that we then took her sister on from a home already in the UK. I also then performed a home check for them with another amazing new home for a dog in their care – again another successful homing – Stanley Sally Cottingham
    Both our dogs are naughty yes – puppies are, and sibling puppies even more so! Both dogs show the lovely madness of any puppy from any country, they are puppies!!!! 15 years ago we got two lab brother puppies who remained naughty until they got to about 10 yrs old….its a dog thing, not a street dog thing! You all see my posts of how happy they are and I can honestly say that any dog from anywhere is chosen because the owner loves them, regardless as to where they got them from. Breeders, puppy farms (agggghhhh) private adverts, rescue, and any country – they all get a home which is the only goal.
    I think the comments from Dog Trust are shocking and suspect that the commenters would also vote for Trump – oh wait….they only believe in the UK don’t though! I believe in animals full stop.
    Happy to say that I have cancelled my monthly DD for Dogs Trust and placed it to another dog charity who I feel is more close to my heart.

  50. Avatar
    Jackey Holt

    We have stacks of rescue organizations In the UK , THEY DON’T. I have 2 ROMMIES and 3 WELSH they are all fabulous. Some of the Rommies have trust issues ( I’m in rescue) but soon sorted, they are grateful,faithful, loveable and like VELCRO. They are DOGS and I love them all 💕🐩🇬🇧🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

  51. Avatar

    Hi Jackey, Totally agree. Our two took a while to settle but so would any dog found on the streets as we well know. They are sooooooo grateful it is wonderful and they fill us with joy for sure. I think the comments from the trust are really bad.

  52. Avatar

    The only comments I would like to make are the following:-
    A true animal lover will help an animal in distress wherever it is from, a true rescue organisation will put the animals welfare and care before their bank balance no matter what arguments they put forward as to why you cannot do this or do that. They should also realise that the people who support them have their own minds and will do what they believe is right both for themselves and the animal(s) they are seeking to adopt.
    I am now in the process of adopting a rescue dog from Romania and hopefully his mum too in the next month. I emailed a number of charities in the UK, all of them blanked me with the exception of the one I am getting my forever friend(s) from. All I can say is thank you for your really swift reply, the fact that I had my home visit within a week and met my new friend also within a week.

    • Nina May

      Hi Paul,
      thank you for your comment – I am so excited to hear you are adopting a Rommie and (hopefully) mum! May I ask which charity you are using?
      Kind regards,

  53. Avatar

    I have always had rescue dogs. My collie died suddenly a couple of months back. UK rescues made the whole process of trying to adopt really difficult. Whilst searching the internet for other rescues I came across a FB post about the plight of two Romanian sisters approx 6mths old. Their rescue said they would struggle to find a home for two large dogs together. I instantly fell for these two. They are chalk and cheese , one is ultra sociable and the other really nervous, they clearly have a great bond too. Our adoption has been hindered by a few weeks as our sociable girl was found to have fractured hip( consistent with human abuse from dog catcher/ kill centre) which needed surgery. Today she has the all clear from the vets for me to book her in for hydrotherapy and I can eventually bring my two beautiful Romanian pups home in 36 hours- I’m soooooo excited

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