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Fighting for breath

Nelu was calm when he walked into our sanctuary, but when he started to tell us about the dog he held in his arms, he struggled to find the words. He believes that he was meant to find this dog, but he wishes it was under healthier circumstances.

Fighting for breath

“I saw this poor thing lying there, bleeding. He could barely keep his eyes open, and he couldn’t breathe. I thought I must help him. I fell in love with him. I said I will save him, and we will be happy together. He wants to live! He wants to live!” – Nelu

Nelu was walking across a field when he spotted the dog laying on its side, twitching its legs. As Nelu got closer, he saw the dog was gasping for air and that its throat was exuding blood from metallic wires wrapped tightly around his neck. Without hesitating, Nelu picked him up and carried him to his home nearby to give him some water before taking him to the vet. Every step of the way, he believed that this dying dog could be saved.

The vet informed Nelu that the dog had a life-threatening wound that needed immediate surgery. When Nelu told the vet that he couldn’t afford the procedure, the vet replied that he couldn’t operate without payment.

In a poor region like Galati, it is uncommon for anyone to perform free labor as it is uncommon for villagers like Nelu to be able to pay for expensive pet surgeries. Of course, Nelu understood the vet’s refusal, but he innocently thought the vet would show compassion given the state of the dog. Sadly, Nelu had to take the dog with him.

But Nelu was determined to find help, and so he found his way to us.

As Nelu related his story, our founder, Dana, was so touched by Nelu’s love for this dog and how he described the dog’s will to live that she instantly thought of the name Romeo. We asked Nelu if he was okay with the name, and he was.

Abuse or freak accident?

It’s unclear how Romeo ended up in this condition but given how tightly clamped the wires were constricting his neck, it appears intentional. However, because no witnesses have come forward, this is only speculation, and a freak accident cannot be ruled out.

The metal was so deeply lodged into his skin that it was cutting off circulation and breath. He has lost a lot of blood. It was wrapped really tight. I’m amazed he’s still alive and breathing!”—ROLDA veterinarian

It’s heartbreaking to imagine Romeo suffering alone and in silence. He couldn’t bark for help. He couldn’t even whimper. All he could do was hope and fight so that we could save him before he took his last breath.

Romeo is not a lover… he is a fighter! (and a lover)

Everyone was in awe of Romeo’s strength, courage, determination, and patience. He has an iron will that most of us wish we had. He put his faith in Nelu and the vet because he wanted to be saved.

Romeo was just hours away from death and he knew it. We saw it in his eyes—they said, “Please hurry! I don’t want to die!”

Nelu’s love for Romeo. Romeo’s love for life.

While Romeo was in surgery, Nelu shared stories about other stray dogs he’s encountered in the village and said he had never seen a dog in Romeo’s condition. He said he was shocked and afraid but didn’t hesitate to help. He panicked after being rejected by the vet because he felt Romeo was running out of time but said he kept calm for both their sakes. Nelu credits Romeo’s resilience for his self-containment.

After a long silence, Nelu asked if we could help him adopt Romeo. He explained his living situation and believed that with a little support he could be a good caregiver. He said he felt embarrassed and ashamed asking for this after we had already helped him get Romeo the surgery but had to take a chance because he really fell in love with him. How could we say no?

Foster, friendship and fresh air

Our supporters helped us raise enough funds to cover the cost of Romeo’s operation, rehabilitation, aftercare, medicine, and follow-up appointments.

Nelu was able to adopt Romeo thanks to the sympathy and generosity of the people who believe in our work. Time after time, ROLDA supporters read about the animals we rescue, and they always contribute to help us save more lives.

This time, not only did they help Romeo receive the operation and treatment he needed, they also gave a fellow animal lover, Nelu, the opportunity to foster the friend he believes he was meant to find.

Nelu is really special. He is empathic and absolutely adores Romeo! He spoke about Romeo with such compassion and sorrow that my heart melted. When Nelu asked if he could adopt him, I never doubted his sincerity. I knew he would build and nurture a friendship that would last forever. Thank you, to all who made this everlasting bond possible!”—Dana Costin, ROLDA Founder

Update: 10 Apr, 2019

Today, Romeo is breathing fresh air without any pain. He still shows traces of emotional trauma, but Nelu is helping him one day at a time. But now, the only thing that takes Romeo’s breath away is Nelu’s devotion. To friendship.


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