I will use the original words from the Love Underdogs Facebook page to explain why it has been an epic day. :-)
CELEBRATION TIME! WE HAVE REHOMED OUR 600TH DOG!
This morning we waved goodbye to our 600th dog, leaving for a loving and secure future with a forever family. This means so much to us. When we first visited the Victory shelter in 2011, there were also 600 dogs there. Today, in a symbolic way, we finally emptied the shelter of our first visit. We have now rehomed the same number of dogs that were there at the time.
Thank you all for your support, your dedication to these dogs, and thank you to the generous donors, the volunteers and the families. On behalf of the founders and trustees, a massive thanks to the team, the kennels in the UK and to our friends and partners at AMP Romania, who all work incredibly hard and never ever let the dogs down no matter what!
We never thought this was possible 4 years ago. In fact, it was just a visit in passing, one of these ‘why not, let’s go and have a look’. We were in Romania to discuss a placement for a rescued Georgian bear cub in the AMP bear sanctuary, an operation carried out by our sister charity, Hauser Bears.
We never had any intention of adopting, let alone facilitate several adoptions.
The previous day, we had visited the peaceful bear sanctuary. After the wide open spaces and the rolling hills, where the bears spend their days, safe from harm, playing in the pools and slowly forgetting their concrete pits and their chains, we were ill prepared for the dog shelter.
When we arrived, the shelter was full to the brim with 600 dogs, all desperate for attention. The conditions were basic but we knew this chaotic space was a safe haven from the world outside, from dog catchers. But for too many, this was the only haven they would ever know. There would be no running in fields, no chasing after toys, no loving family. The visit seemed an endless walk between the pens, wet noses pressing against the fences. Their individual stories began to emerge: this one arrived as a puppy, 10 years ago, nobody will come for him. This one is missing a leg, no one will want him. It was heart-breaking. So many dogs, hopeful, desperate, looking at us like maybe today would be their day, so many without names, future or prospects. At the time, there was nowhere for them to walk, they never left their cages, on top of one another, winter after summer after winter… At the time, the existing partners where taking many dogs to Germany and France, but could only afford to take the more adoptable ones to keep on top of the numbers needing homes.
On that day, we fell in love with countless dogs, and a slightly mad idea began to form..
We thought we might be able to rehome 20 dogs and began a shortlist of dogs that had been left behind, those dogs that had no other option, unless we created one, the forgotten, the old, the less than perfect.
It was only ever going to be a side project.. and here we are 600 dogs later – that is the power of the Romanian dogs, those unwanted strays that are so easy to fall in love with.
Anyone who lives with or works with Romanian dogs will tell you – they just grip your heart and won’t let go! There is just something about these street urchins! Very early on, we were faced with criticism over importing dogs to the UK, when so many need homes here. We sincerely believe that any animal lover experiencing what we did, who looked into these desperate eyes on that day, who saw the suffering first hand, would find it hard to turn their backs on them and somehow abandon them to their fate without trying to improve things for them in whatever way they can.
Our first Love Underdogs foster was Willy who arrived in that first batch in 2011, Willy is still doing well at the age of 16. :-)
A selection of the current Underdogs looking for a home.
I would invite anyone in the UK looking for a dog to consider Love Underdogs first, these “Romie dogs” will get under your skin and into your heart. :-)