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People who exploit animals for profit, or any other reason, believe that humans have the right to use animals as they please. Animal exploitation is animal cruelty.

Circuses, zoos, marine parks, and similar venues exploit animals to entertain audiences who pay to see animals perform. Seeing a bear dance or a seal clap looks like a “neat” experience, but it comes at a cost to the animal’s health and freedom. Most people are unaware of the brutal conditions animals endure behind the scenes, such as being forced into submission, being kept in tiny cages, and being denied socialization with other members of their species.

Roughly 96 percent of circus animals spend their lives in a cage, and are trained with barbaric instruments like electric prods, whips, bullhooks and chains. Some trainers even starve their animals to get better results. The sad fact is that people continue to ignore the inhumane aspects of these animal attractions because they believe that people who work with animals are responsible individuals who respect and love animals.

Of course, many of them do, but the fact remains that animals do not belong in circuses, zoos, or marine parks.

Even zoos, which are often praised for their conservation efforts, have been rife with animal cruelty. Animal abuse in zoos can take many forms, from starving animals to sending them to livestock options. And when a crisis occurs, like the COVID-19 pandemic, zoo animals are left to die from a lack of resources because they are not considered a priority.

In Romania, animals such as wolves, snakes, bears, monkeys, and lions are illegally owned by individuals for hobby and profit. The most common attraction is a guesthouse where people, mostly tourists, can stay in an accommodation where an exotic animal is tied up in their backyard. There are also many places, often illegal, that offer pictures with captive animals such as deer and bears.

These attractions involving captive animals are part of wildlife tourismWildlife tourism exploits animals from birth until they are either euthanized or abandoned once they are no longer considered “valuable” by their owners. These animals endure years of suffering at their owners’ hands who use cruel training methods to teach them to perform for tourists.

Like wildlife trafficking, wildlife tourism can only be eradicated if there is no demand to see animals perform. ROLDA advocates for the closure of these tourist attractions and the relocation of captive animals. We have created petitions urging the ANSVSA and the Garda de Mediu (National Environmental Guard) inspectors to shut down all illegal wildlife tourism operations across Romania immediately.

The illegal animal trade is a billion-dollar business that only exists because there is a demand. If people did not demand animals—for food, medicine, trophies, clothing, and so forth—no one would bother to smuggle them.

Animal trafficking happens everywhere, and it involves many people. The animals are subjected to brutal conditions that cause fear, anguish, pain, and trauma. In fact, many of them die before they reach their destinations.

One of the driving forces behind the wildlife trade is the desire to own exotic pets, such as tigers, alligators, bears, monkeys, and eagles. These animals are separated from their families— usually from birth—and removed from their habitats, and placed in unfamiliar environments to which they are not accustomed. These changes can be devastating to the animal and even life-threatening. And when animals are trafficked to be used in exotic dishes, their being alive or dead is irrelevant and is therefore treated worse.

Another branch of the wildlife trade is traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), a health care system that dates back to the third century BC. TCM has helped drive some animal species to the brink of extinction. Despite the advances modern medicine has made, TCM remains popular today even though its efficacy has been widely unproven. Rhino horn, tiger bones, and bear bile are the most common animals hunted and trafficked for their body parts used in TCM.

Over the years, many countries have taken steps to fight wildlife trafficking, but it continues to thrive while animals are increasingly becoming endangered or pushed to extinction. Wildlife trafficking will only be eradicated when there is no more demand for animals.

Though ROLDA’s focus is the rescue and rehoming of stray animals in Galati, we are actively involved in advocating for the end of wildlife trafficking in our community and worldwide. We lend our voice and support to animal activists and organizations fighting for the end of this horrific trade.

We try to involve our supporters through petitions and campaigning, and we encourage them to spread the word about animal trafficking to ensure that it becomes and remains a topic of concern in their community. ROLDA understands that this is a global problem that needs a global response, and we are here to do our part in any way we can.

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Since 2013, public dog shelters in Romania have been allowed to euthanize dogs if they are not claimed or adopted in 14 days. However, the neglect and abuse these captured dogs suffer while incarcerated have been well documented, but nothing has been done to stop this atrocious behavior.

There have been reports of dog corpses left to rot in overcrowded cages where dogs sleep on pools of their excrement. Dogs are starved, dehydrated, denied medical attention, and frequently shocked, beaten, and killed.

Regardless of the extent of abuse and neglect in public shelters, the authorities and the government continue to ignore them.

Publicly funded animal shelters in Romania do not invest in improving their facilities and operate unsupervised and unpenalized. Most public shelters operate like a business because the authorities pay per dog euthanized, mistakenly believing that capture and euthanasia help reduce the stray population.

The Romanian government has failed to provide captured dogs with humane housing conditions in public shelters. These shelters are meant to be a refuge for homeless or abandoned dogs. These poor souls have committed no crime or broken any laws. They did not ask to be born on the streets or abandoned by their owners. They struggle to survive each day, living off scraps, enduring harsh climates, battling illness, and being treated as outcasts. Some people would even argue that these dogs’ conditions on the streets are much better than the conditions they endure in public shelters.

For years, ROLDA has petitioned to have these despicable institutions closed or reformed to adhere to the EU standards required by law. To this day, the government continues to ignore our demands. But ROLDA will not stop until these illegal and inhumane establishments have been closed. We will not rest until these poor dogs, who have been condemned to die, are provided with humane living conditions while in captivity.

Like most developing countries, Romania has an overwhelming stray animal population. Sadly, stray dogs and cats are viewed as public nuisances and are poorly treated.

Some countries with poor animal welfare laws aim to reduce their stray dog and cat populations by culling, which is both inhumane and ineffective. ROLDA believes that sterilization is the most humane method to control these homeless animal populations.

ROLDA has been conducting sterilization campaigns since 2002, effectively lowering stray populations in Galati by more than half.

Our goal is not to eliminate stray cats or stray dogs. Our goal is to prevent the births of unwanted cats and dogs who would inevitably continue to propagate and suffer. Many communities in undeveloped nations lack the resources to provide for the overwhelming number of stray cats and dogs, but in Galati, ROLDA works with its partners and citizens to peacefully coexist with homeless animals.

Thanks to our donors, ROLDA can procure the necessary resources to carry out yearly sterilization campaigns in our community that humanely and effectively curtail the stray dog and cat populations, preventing their needless suffering and deaths.

Until 2016 when the law changed, sterilization involved catching stray dogs, sterilizing them, and returning them to safe territory. Realistically, due to their vast numbers, sterilizing all the strays in our community can take years and pet abandonments continue to contribute to the growing stray population, which ultimately slows down our efforts. But since 2016, it is also against the law to sterilize and return back to the territory a dog because the law clearly says that in the moment when being caught, the dog must also be microchipped & registered in the name of a person/charity.

Sterilization is a slow but productive process that requires patience, and we believe that these poor animals deserve all the patience in the world.

With respect to the current laws, ROLDA still can perform sterilizations: We spay/neuter the dogs saved from the streets, who become residents of our shelters and we also pay veterinaries to perform sterilization campaigns for pets (dogs and cats) who belong to poor rural communities.

ROLDA will never give up until we have succeeded in sterilizing all the dogs and cats in our community. From there, we will direct our focus on sterilizing neighboring rural areas and eventually, going further, across Romania!

Sadly, our society continues to accept and condone animal cruelty through indifference and ignorance. Despite the numerous animal welfare organizations that exist today, animal cruelty remains a severe issue because it is a systemic problem in many cultures.

Factory farming, animal experimentation, poaching, and hunting are types of animal cruelty, and the list goes on. In Galati, the most common types of animal cruelty are abuse and neglect.

When people think of animal cruelty, they often think of violence inflicted on an animal. However, a common form of animal abuse is neglect. Many pets spend their entire lives in neglectful circumstances and eventually die of dehydration, malnutrition, untreated diseases, or other conditions. Negligence does not justify animal cruelty, and ROLDA helps prevent further abuse and helps bring animal abusers to justice.

ROLDA continuously organizes protests & petitions, and advocates for stricter punishment for animal abusers. Since most animal cruelty occurs in private, we also depend on community members to denounce animal abusers for us and the authorities to act.

ROLDA also rescues pets and provide them with medical treatment and physical and psychological rehabilitation, but also fights for livestock and captive wild animals rights, to be rescued from abusive homes and situations.

Many dogs survive their injuries, overcome their trauma, and live healthy lives in our shelters or forever homes. Sadly, animals who have suffered irreversible health effects or life-threatening injuries either succumb to their trauma.

If everyone started treating all animals, regardless the specie, as sentient beings who deserve love and respect, animal cruelty would be nonexistent. We believe that people can change the way they treat animals, so ROLDA has also initiated a social program that educates people on how to be responsible pet owners and how to be respectful of stray animals. We also provide financial assistance to low-income pet owners to help pay for veterinary bills, including expensive surgeries and long-term medical treatments, so their pets don’t suffer.

To fight animal cruelty Worldwide, it takes more than a few individuals but together, we can teach more people to respect animals. We need to stand up for animals who are being abused and neglected. Our choices can have a huge impact—if we choose to end animal cruelty, if more of us are willing to speak up for the voiceless, we can create a society where animals are revered, appreciated, and loved by all.

Abandoning an animal is a decision that is always traumatic to the pet and sometimes to the owner. In most cases, pet abandonment is avoidable. There are many excuses said by pet owners who abandon their pets, the most common being the animal’s age, health, size, and behavior. If their pet gets pregnant, an owner may choose to abandon her to avoid dealing with the birth and her litter. Alternatively, some people choose to keep the mother and abandon her litter to avoid taking care of more animals in their household.

A pet owner’s personal situation is also a factor. Financial issues such as increased debt, sudden unemployment, or job relocation often lead to pet abandonment. Other personal reasons include the birth of a child, declining health, and moving to a place where pets are not allowed.

Pets are also abandoned for inhumane reasons. For example, people making money off animal breeding, fighting, or racing, will abandon animals when they are no longer considered “valuable assets.”

While pet abandonment happens all over the world, it is prevalent in low-income communities such as Galati region. To deter animal abandonment caused by financial issues, ROLDA helps low-income pet owners pay for veterinary bills and offers free microchip identification. These microchips are registered with the RECS database, which can trace if a dog has been abandoned.

We encourage pet owners who are considering abandoning their pets to contact us to receive them in our shelters (if space is available). If no spaces are available, we try to help them to cover the vet bills, if their decision is made because financial reasons.

ROLDA does not condone animal abandonment. Pets are not accessories that can be thrown away and forgotten. Pets are loyal, loving companions who need love, care, and devotion.

Please contact us if you can’t keep your pets. It’s the responsible thing to do! And don’t forget that abandoning your dog, for example, is punished by current Romanian laws!

ROLDA has representatives in Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK where our dogs are rehomed as long as the adopter complies with our rules and regulations implemented to protect our dogs’ health and safety.

ROLDA does pre-adoption home checks and post-adoption monitoring. Every adopter must sign a contract stipulating dogs are returned to ROLDA if necessary when no foster or other adoption alternative is available.

We also request that every adopter provide us with photos and videos of their adopted dog(s).

ROLDA takes responsibility for each dog it rescues and rehomes, and we are committed to ensuring that every dog receives the quality care they deserve.
We take responsibility for each dog from beginning to end.

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In the late 90s, spaying, and neutering were not standard practices in Galati. Its local pound, where dogs were electrocuted and skinned alive during the communist regime, was still operational.

Though electrocution and skinning have been banned, the pound, and many others across Romania, continue to provide appalling conditions for captured dogs.

Our founder, Dana Costin, horrified by these findings, devised a sterilization plan in Galati to prevent future unwanted births of stray dogs and cats who would eventually end up in these hellish places.

ROLDA’s first sterilization campaign was in 2004 and since then, over 20.000 dogs and cats have been sterilized. Every year, ROLDA has been conducting sterilization campaigns in their community, slowly but significantly diminishing the stray animal population in the area.

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ROLDA helps impoverished pet owners by providing food and medicine for their pets. We created #FriendsForever for seniors to help pay for their pet’s vaccinations, sterilization, identification, as well as emergency vet care like surgeries, long treatment care, etc

Galati is located in one of the poorest regions in Romania, and we believe in helping the members of our community keep their pets healthy and safe.

But Galati is just one piece of the puzzle and in East of Europe (ex communist block) many more animals and their humans need ROLDA.

Most of these families can barely make ends meet, but they always manage to share what little food, water and shelter they have with their pets, many that have been rescued from the streets.

These humble people are animal lovers who want to provide a loving home to animals in need. They do not deserve to be separated from their pets, and ROLDA ensures they remain together forever.

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ROLDA focuses on rescuing, rehabilitating, and rehoming stray dogs in Galati, Romania. Our first dog shelter opened in 2003 and the second, 4 years later. In 2023, we extended our commitment for animals in need by opening the first sanctuary for senior and disabled cats. Most of the animals rescued have suffered illness and injury due to starvation, neglect, and abuse. We provide our rescues with the best nutrition and medical care to ensure proper healing and growth.

Our staff and volunteers are continually working with our rescues to help them overcome the physical and emotional trauma they have suffered while living on the streets.

Once we believe our rescues are ready for domestic life, we find them forever homes. Because ROLDA runs no-kill sanctuaries, our rescues remain for the rest of their lives with us unless they are adopted. Euthanasia is only an option when a veterinarian determines that the animal has no chance of living a pain-free life.

ROLDA is a humane alternative to the inhumane Galati Public Pound that is notorious for abuse. ROLDA always had and continues to protest against the Galati Public Pound and all the illegal public pounds in Romania. We continue to fight for their closure or reformation to adhere to the humane laws and treatment these dogs deserve.

The effects of the pandemic and economic crisis determined ROLDA to offer small grants regularly to a number of small charities spread across Romania, in danger of closing down because donations dropped. When the war from Ukraine started, ROLDA expanded its efforts across borders, to reach animals in need in the neighboring country.