In praise of Romanians

I really wish more people were going to read this blog post because it deserves a wider audience, but I will say it anyway. Thank you to all the wonderful people in Romania who rescued and cared for our two kittens, before ensuring their safe transport home to us. So why did we take this decision rather than opting for a homeless pet in our own country? I will try to explain…

I have been on the edges of many rescue organisations for most of my adult life. For decades I made donations to our largest animal rescue charity, but those stopped when I realised just how many young and healthy pets are put to sleep. One such case was a sweet young cat around six months old, who was found wandering (and wobbling) on the street. He was taken to a local vet who thought he may have Cerebellar Hypoplasia, a condition caused when the mother contracts an infection while pregnant. Kittens with CH suffer from tremors and can have trouble walking, but most can go on to live long and happy lives, with just a little consideration to their needs. Buzzer (as the vet staff called him) was advertised on a pet forum in the hope of finding him a home and within hours the perfect person came forward. Too late though – the vet had just passed him on to the charity and the very same day, before the potential owner could track him down, little Buzzer had been put to sleep.

In the same forum a few months later I found the story of a very poorly stray. The photographs showed a cat in the most appalling condition. They had first been sent to the rescue asking for one of their inspectors to collect him. They refused to make the hour-long journey as in their opinion, the cat was dying. Thankfully a kind individual sought help and advice from the forum instead. They drove to where the cat had last been seen and managed to get him in a basket. A local vet diagnosed many problems and indeed, the poor old soul was close to death, but the rescue organisation would have left him to suffer. The cat’s rescuer paid for him to be PTS and remained with him while this was done. It broke her heart, but at least she knew she was doing the right thing.

Of course the real problem is caused by the general public not neutering their pets, so there are too many animals and not enough good homes. In a way the charity is only dealing with this “surplus”, but it is done quietly and behind the scenes. Money is raised by showing photographs of a cat or dog nursed back to health from a fate worse than death. No mention is made of the wasted lives and the suffering is allowed to continue. It has become more about fund-raising and less about compassion and from now on I will direct my support to where it will make more of a difference.

I have also been a member of and home checked for our largest cat rescue organisation. At least they claim they will never put a healthy cat to sleep and for the most part they do a remarkable job with their network of volunteers. They did used to have restrictions on adopting though, like no kittens if you go out to work and no adoptions before Christmas. We have just done both, but for very sensible reasons. The kitten we adopted was intended as a playmate for Bubu, who is besotted with his new friend. While we are out they eat, sleep and play together and in fact, he cares for her and washes her like the mother cat she hardly knew. The rules about no adoptions before Christmas would make sense in a normal house, when it is a time of visitors and noise and general upheaval. In our case it is the longest break we get from work and we spend it all at home in total peace and quiet. For us it is the perfect time to get to know a new pet and for that reason we started looking in Romania.

It wasn’t the biggest reason by all means. Yes, there is cruelty everywhere sadly, but at least animals rescued in the UK don’t do too badly while they are waiting for their forever home. Not only is the cruelty in Eastern Europe far, far greater, but the rescuers are working in almost impossible conditions. Kittens and disabled cats are kept after rescue, but adult cats who recover from illness or injury often face being returned to the street where they are once again at risk of being deliberately run over, shot, poisoned or worse. Rescue space is very limited and there are no adoptive homes out there either, so unless channels can be made to the UK, or other Western European countries, then there is no hope.

All the animals for adoption from Romania are fully vaccinated, wormed and neutered if they are old enough. They are micro-chipped and must be declared fit to travel by a vet. All the paperwork is done by the rescuers. As we have other cats at home, I asked for extra blood tests, which were not only done at a fraction of the price, but the entire procedure was photographed for reassurance. All the travel arrangements were made on our behalf and we were given a choice of collection points. The people who make this run on a regular basis are totally professional. They kept us informed at every stage in perfect English and the animals received first class care during the journey. Having been through this twice now, I would have no hesitation in recommending it and it is probably much cheaper than you think. Both Bubu and Bijou settled the instant we got them home. Below is a video of Bijou taken only 12 hours after she arrived on 1st December. Please feel free to contact me for further information.

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