Happy National Rescue Dog Day!
20.05. – National Rescue Dog Day! We would like to use this special date to address animal welfare, shelters, the hard work they have to face every day and of course everything about the topic of adoption.
Every year, approximately 3.3 million dogs enter animal shelters nationwide in the US and are in dire need of being adopted. With this warning number, it’s important we consider our local pet shelters when welcoming a new family member. We’ve interviewed an animal shelter which has a tough job to do. Let’s find out more about this work and the process!
The “Einfach Tierschutz e.V.” is a German non-profit animal welfare association founded in 2016 with the aim of helping street dogs where the need is greatest. This is particularly the case in Eastern and Southern European countries, where especially street dogs have no rights and face harsh times. Einfach Tierschutz stands up for those animals in need, in areas such as Romania.
“Everyone has a purpose in its life, a reason for being in the world. My purpose is to save dogs.”
Jens Waldinger, Head of Einfach Tierschutz
1. Omlet: Can you please tell us a bit about the company: how many pets do you care for? What does the work at an animal shelter involve and what does a typical day at your shelter look like?
Einfach Tierschutz: Einfach Tierschutz e.V. is the owner and operator of two animal shelters in Braila, Romania. In our “Phoenix Shelter”, where we take care of about 400 street dogs, just recently also cats, and try to find them a new home. They get medically treated and socialised every day in an area of 10,000 m².
Since spring 2020, we have been running our second shelter especially for puppies, the “Phoenix Puppy Shelter”, where up to 50 puppies and young dogs are fostered, cared for and prepared for placement in a family on an area of 2,000 m². In addition, we were able to realise a long-cherished wish in 2020 with the construction of the cat house on our premises and thus also provide our cats with safe and species-appropriate accommodation.
We have employed an average of 6 staff members in the shelters of Romania, who work in shifts so that someone is present at all times. Additionally, we have a driver and an office worker as well as the shelter manager on site. The tasks of the staff are mainly the support and maintenance of the dogs as well as night watch and administrative activities.
Our team consists of trained and certified dog trainers, professionals and experienced foster homes, and we are in contact with vets/veterinary assistants. We also work closely with the veterinary office, registering both our transports and our foster homes there, and can provide proof of the correct written documentation on transports, dogs and adopters at any time.
Our office is located in Germany, from where we coordinate all of the association’s activities. Various volunteer teams work under our guidance in the areas of social media, pre- and post-inspections, placements, adoptions, flea market and planning of the shelter travels.
A primary goal of our work is to rehome as many dogs as possible and place them into loving and safe homes. We also provide a licensed transporter in order to transport our dogs and cats in our own equipped vehicles from Romania to their future families in Germany, Austria or Switzerland.
We provide dogs, which are not suitable for a life as a family dog or for any other owner, a permanent safe refuge in our shelter. Here, they will have a better life without hunger and diseases, and are not exposed to the bad and cold weather conditions in Romania, especially during the winter season – just a stable and stress-free life with their conspecifics.
Another goal for us is to make an important contribution by helping to control the reproduction of street dogs and cats through regular castration campaigns at our expense, and to bring about a change in the way the local population thinks about handling this issue. Due to the uncontrolled multiplication of street as well as house and yard dogs of the inhabitants, thousands of unwanted puppies end up on the streets or in the municipal animal shelters every year, which are allowed to euthanise these dogs after a period of two weeks if they are overcrowded. We also intervene here and are happy if we can take some of these dogs with us.
2. Omlet: What differs Einfach Tierschutz from other animal rescue organisations?
Einfach Tierschutz: First of all, the Einfach Tierschutz is a German association which is not only active abroad, but also runs its own animal shelter abroad. We do not solely rehome our dogs in Germany, but also in Switzerland and Austria. But mostly, we stand out because of our size: since we have started this organisation, we now have over 8,000 members who support us. We have succeeded in convincing many people of our projects and know-how in just a few years, and with their support through donations, memberships, sponsorships, etc. we have been able to invest wisely.
We also offer our members the experience of travelling to our Phoenix Shelter in Romania to actively support us there and to see for themselves, what our team’s workload is and what we have achieved in this short period of time so far with all the donations and membership fees we receive from them.
“There is a before and an after in my life: Before the trip to the Phoenix Shelter and after the trip, because since then I know what it is worth living and fighting for every day: “my” dogs there in the shelter. I may be back in Germany, but my heart has stayed there with the dogs.”
– Association member a few weeks after returning from a shelter trip
We offer our members the opportunity to follow our work on a daily basis via our Facebook members’ group, provide pictures and video material from our shelter and thus allow every member to participate in current events. We also offer the opportunity to network with other members at more than 40 regulars’ tables and to plan joint activities such as information booths or fundraising campaigns.
We recently had our first big tombola where our members purchased lots from us in order to have the chance to win many great prizes from generous donors. The proceeds went directly to the shelter.
We are constantly working to improve our standards and ourselves professionally, in line with our ideas of good, sustainable animal welfare so that we can continue to grow and help as many animals as possible. In this way, we are always trying to maintain a balance between possible improvements and new projects or extension of our activities. We are very motivated and hungry to go further, to achieve even more.
3. Omlet: What do you like about your work? What is most rewarding?
Interviewee: Every little success reminds us why we do all this. Whether it is rescued dogs that we are able to bring into the safety of our shelter, whether it is animals that are brought back to life after serious illness or injury, whether it is once fearful and shy dogs that we have been able to socialise to such an extent that they can now enjoy their lives in a family and happily romp across green meadows… all these individual fates that are given a chance for a better life through our work is what makes the work worthwhile for us!
4. Omlet: Adoption vs. Purchase – what is the biggest challenge?
Einfach Tierschutz: From our point of view, the biggest problems are the mass breeding of pedigree dogs, while thousands of dogs are waiting for a loving home in the animal shelters. In particular, the illegal breeding and illegal transfer of puppies from abroad, which are then sold cheaply via various online portals by professional traffickers posing as private individuals, is a thorn in the flesh. As humans, we have a responsibility towards our fellow creatures and as long as the streets are full of unwanted animals that reproduce uncontrollably, suffering from hunger and diseases, we believe it is irresponsible to continue with breeding dogs.
Unfortunately, many people lack a sense of responsibility and foresight. Many hardly think about what it means to give an animal a home for the next 10 to 20 years and also give up far too quickly when the animal becomes “uncomfortable” for whatever reason. The decision to give up an animal is taken ever more quickly and lightly these days…
5. Omlet: Speaking of adoption – What is important to you when looking for the right adopters, what should a potential adopter fulfil? What challenges or difficulties can you face when a shelter dog moves into its new home?
Einfach Tierschutz: It is very important to us that the family and the dog are well matched, which is why we work with the dogs on site to get to know them better and assess them as well as possible. Our employees in Romania also help with socialising the dogs when we are not around. Nevertheless, though we try our best here, we cannot predict what the dogs’ behaviour will be like when they arrive at their new homes. Several factors will play a role. With the new environment, new people and maybe other companions it is hard to make a binding statement about it but so far, we mostly received positive feedback from the adopters.
A dog from another country is always a bit of a “surprise package”. They are not familiar with our everyday lives and need time to get used to it. Through plenty of interaction with volunteers, outdoor runs and play sessions as well as walks, we try to keep the dogs as busy as possible and introduce them to new things, but there is no comparison with the life they will experience with their future families. Some of them have never seen a leash or worn a collar or harness before, they are often unfamiliar with stairs, cars, bicycles, pedestrians etc. Some dogs are already house-trained when they move in, others need days, weeks or even months to train. Domestic or human smells and noises are often unfamiliar to them, and while one dog may be happy and react inquisitively, another may still feel anxious and need more time to realise that everything is just about to change for the better.
The sensory overload, especially whilst settling in, can lead to dogs initially acting differently – often more timidly – than in the familiar environment of our shelter. This is why it is very important to us that we educate and prepare our adopters well and that we offer them thorough advice about dogs that are suited to their circumstances and lifestyle. We carry out pre-checks (and post-checks) and we discuss general aspects of adopting a dog from another country with the prospective adopters.
We have useful tips for them on how to deal with newly arrived dogs, with common behaviour patterns during the settling in period and safeguarding during walks, we talk about illnesses that cannot be ruled out based on incubation times, etc. This information is constantly updated and further refined.
However, in those cases where, for whatever reason, things do not work out in the new home, we take care of finding a new place for the dog, and even provide emergency foster homes. Under no circumstances will we allow a dog that was placed by us to end up in another shelter.
Up to now, we have been able to offer a swift solution in each of the few individual cases, where contrary to expectations, the adopters had to return a dog. Thus, we have been able to make the best of the situation in the interest of the dog.
In case of problems, we assist our adopters with help and advice and we are always available after an adoption and happy to help! On our Facebook pageyou can find some stories and photos of “happy endings” posted by the homeadopters themselves.
6. Omlet: As an NGO, how do you raise money for your animals, shelters, sterilisation projects, etc.? And how are you remunerated?
Einfach Tierschutz: In order to be able to cover the high project costs, we had to invest a lot of time in advertising and generating new supporting members to bring in enough donations. As an association that is mainly active via the fast-moving social media channels and also promotes the dogs through them, we depend on a well-functioning technical infrastructure.
The commitment of our local board is particularly important too, as it generates a lot of attention. Our local experts also have to regularly assess the socialisation of the dogs, as we place them very responsibly to ensure that dog and family get on well together later on. We invest in our social media presence, promotion via billboards, newspaper advertisements, flyers, info sheets, stickers, etc. and have thereby been able to maintain our high level of popularity and success, – which of course goes hand in hand with a further increase in administrative expenses.
7. Omlet: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readership?
Einfach Tierschutz: We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the interview and the interest in our association and invite everyone to get an idea of our work and visit our homepage or follow our social media activities. We – and especially the animals – would be very happy about a small donation, which we would like to invest in food, vet visits/surgeries/medications, castrations or in the shelter itself, e.g. for the expansion or the cat enclosure.
We would also more than welcome new fellow members who would like to get involved in our activities (e.g. shelter travels), gladly from anywhere. You can find all information on our homepage: www.einfachtierschutz.de
(You can also set up the pages in your desired language.)
Omlet would like to thank Einfach Tierschutz e.V. for the interview and wishes them all the best for the future and that all dogs will find a great and safe new home.
Happy National Rescue Dog Day!
Note: this interview has been translated from German to English.
This entry was posted in Dogs