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The history of ROLDA large shelter read details

In 2004, ROLDA became aware of a horror scenario unfolding on our doorstep. A local steel mill, owned by one of Britain’s and the world’s richest men, Lakshmi Mittal, had become an involuntary home to countless stray dogs desperately seeking shelter and food.

The history of ROLDA large shelter read details

In 2004, ROLDA became aware of a horror scenario unfolding on our doorstep. A local steel mill, owned by one of Britain’s and the world’s richest men, Lakshmi Mittal, had become an involuntary home to countless stray dogs desperately seeking shelter and food. Instead of looking for a humane and compassionate way of dealing with vulnerable animals, management decided to poison hundreds of innocent animals and dispose of their remains in the Danube River. We, as any human being with a shred of decency, were appalled and apoplectic in our anger at this grotesque injustice. Faced with the daunting task of taking on the depraved indifference of those who put profit before humanity and the vast resources at their disposal; ROLDA refused to give up without a fight.

We instantly made our outrage known and petitioned Mittal with the details of the sickening acts of cruelty unfolding on his property. Our voices were finally heard and, in 2006, ROLDA’s founder and president, Dana Costin, was contacted by the representatives of the steel company to discuss the out-of-control stray dog population. Desperate and starving dogs were migrating from the city to the oft-abandoned industrial complexes in search of warmth and food.

Many found their way to Mittal’s steel plant, enticed by the shelter it offered and the acts of kindness of some staff who would share what little food they had with them. Frustrated by the impact of the dogs’ presence on their productivity and profit margins, the steel mill management took to medieval methods to remove them. After several months of intensive negotiations, ROLDA succeeded in convincing management to abandon the barbaric methods of killing strays and invest in humane solutions to decrease the stray numbers.

When ROLDA was called by the steel plant management to come up with a plan to collect all the dogs from the plant premises, we knew these dogs have only one chance. If we failed, hundreds of innocent animals would greet a painful and traumatic death.

ROLDA agreed to have built on our land a shelter for dogs captured from the steel plant, as the only alternative these dogs have to live – giving us time and opportunity to feed them, give them medical care and prepare them to become one day become to someone the loving companion they only wish to be. Many of the dogs we encountered had been born into the wild, never knowing the comfort of a home and the love and affection of an owner. These dogs need kindness, time, and patience to grow their trust in humans. Many more, traumatized by past horror and cruelty, required long and comprehensive psychological rehabilitation as well as caring for their physical injuries and ailments.

The scale of the challenge deterred many; ROLDA stood up for these dogs and said yes. We knew no one else would step in to save this animal and we know we made the right decision and when we look at all the dogs lives we transformed, all the dogs saved from the steel plant that live safely in homes across Europe. Our largest shelter can be found in the outskirts of Galati, Romania’s fifth-largest city, it’s outskirts is home to sprawling industrial complexes in stark contrast to the unforgiving wilderness beyond.

Our 15,000msq site was paid for in the summer of 2006, with the money donated to us by one of our most generous British donors. The shelter consists of two rows of kennels in parallel formation.

In total, 12 paddocks (120 kennel boxes). Every box is 18 square meters (3 x 6m) and can accommodate up to 6 dogs (depending on size). The sanctuary was authorized by the National Veterinary Authority (ANSVSA) in 2012 and the same year, included in the TRACES system.

The first paddock welcomed dogs in the fall, of 2007. In 2012, our veterinary clinic was completed and in the same year, we completed multiple running and play spaces for our dogs to exercise and socialize. Over time, ROLDA expanded by purchasing additional land surrounding our shelter, bordered by Acacia trees which we’ve strategically planted to act as a natural barrier to the snowstorms that plague the boreal Romanian winters.

Between 2007 and 2016, ROLDA successfully decreased the stray population within the steel plant premises by over 90%, reducing a population of over ten thousand to one approximately one thousand, providing lifesaving food, medical assistance, sterilization and rehabilitation.

Many of these dogs went on to loving homes internationally. It was a herculean challenge for our team. The gargantuan size of the steel mill, over thirty times larger than Vatican City, meant our small team had to cover the ground over which a city or micronation would sprawl. However, despite the mammoth challenge ROLDA rose to the occasion.

The initial agreement between ROLDA and the management steel plant included basic investments like access to water and electricity, but years passed, and these promises went unfulfilled; the much-needed construction of outdoor spaces for dogs’ exercises was also postponed.

In 2014, after countless of our calls, letters and emails went unanswered, ROLDA approached Mittal’s headquarters in London with news of the dire situation in Romania which they were complicit in creating. Soon after, a new contract was agreed upon with a plan of investments which included a connection to an electricity network. Unfortunately, the new management at the steel plant failed to deliver on the promises outlined in the new contract.

They even went as far as to use illegal and unethical methods to prevent ROLDA from holding them to account. In February 2016, they aggressively terminated the written agreement, leaving the promised investments unfulfilled, the large sanctuary with no sewage system, and worse: refusing to pay for 200 dogs (from a total of 644) collected by ROLDA from the steel plant and housed in our shelter.

Nearly one thousand dogs remained on the steel plant premises left to starve; now even the steel plant employees are forbidden to feed the dogs. They are suffering and in desperate need of medical attention. They are starving, desperate for food. They are vulnerableinfested by ticks and other parasites, and go unvaccinated, a source of disease for other dogs as well as for the employees and clients of the company.

ROLDA took the management of the steel plant to court, despite the company being a very influential international corporation, with vast financial resources and political influence that dwarfed our own. We began legal proceedings against the termination of the contract which ROLDA won in May 2019, after over three years of court battles that ended in the Supreme Court of Justice in Bucharest, Romania’s highest legal authority.

Over the years, new pieces of land have been purchased on both sides of the kennels. The land was intended to be used to slowly transform the rusty shelter into a state-of-the-art facility that will not welcome just dogs, but other animals, too. We called the new project PawzUp, a project to connect generations of animals and people for generations to come.

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ROLDA has survived nightmare after nightmare…

A mega rich industrial giant broke a promise to pay upkeep for dogs saved from their premises.

Our power supply failed… a new system had to be quickly bought and installed.

Our drinking water supply was condemned… and we had to collect water by truck for the dogs until we made our well safe.

The COVID pandemic struck… price rises and shortages, care home visits stopped, and international adoptions were banned.

The war in neighboring Ukraine… extra funds needed to carry out more rescue missions.

ROLDA has survived nightmare after nightmare…

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