Frequently Asked Questions
To import a homeless dog from another country is usually safer when done through an association, who has knowledge of the situation in that country, the diseases there and has local professional staff.
Friends of homeless dogs acknowledges that the import requirements that are specified by law, are not adequate and has therefore compiled its own health program, that includes many more vaccinations, tests and measures, than those required by law.
We invest a lot in the welfare and health care of the dogs in Romania. Starting from the dogs’ arrival at the shelters, it is checked up and isolated until it’s finished its vaccination program and sterilized. At the shelter the dogs are given monthly deworming and the staff monitors the condition of the dogs.
Read more about our health program here.
About donations (5)
Yes. All donations go to an account which is under a money collecting license. Friends of homeless dogs renews the license every two years and publishes the license information on its web site. You will find the information here.
Yes. Friends of homeless dogs always makes precise decisions on its partners and we ascertain that our visions and strategies meet. Save the Dogs is one of the biggest and most successful animal welfare organizations in Romania, and it has a solid background in animal protection. Both the economy and operation of the organization are transparent, not only to its partners, but also to the public. Save the Dogs and Friends of homeless dogs have a written legal agreement, which secures the trustworthiness and high quality of co-operation, and defines the rights and commitments of both parties.The agreement can be read here.
From the very beginning, openness and reliability have been fundamental values for Friends of homeless dogs. Therefore the association publishes all donations received monthly, so that everyone who has donated can check that their donation has been registered.
Friends of homeless dogs and Save the Dogs have a legal agreement that gives both parties the right to check each other’s accounts at any time. Save the Dogs also documents all its campaigns and projects through videos and pictures, and keeps a record of all treatments given to animals. The pictures are published on their web site and Facebook on a weekly basis. They also publish monthly newsletters with more information on the progress of their various projects and the number of sterilizations.
A representative of Friends of homeless dogs visits the shelters in Romania at least once a month. Swedish, Swiss and Italian volunteers also make regular visits.
All donations are sent on to Romania in full. Administrative costs are covered by membership fees. Some services like Pay Pal for example, do carry a fee for the transaction, but Friends of homeless dogs also covers this cost from the membership fees.
Like with all kinds of charity, even animal charities have their share of unethical actors. In some cases the donations might be used for something completely different than what is claimed. It would be naive to think that in a country that is surviving from a dictatorship and poverty, there wouldn’t be individuals who will abuse the good will of others. Facebook has given whole new opportunities to these fraudsters, and at end of the day, no-one can be sure what the funds have been used for.
We definitely believe that most Romanian animal protectors are genuine and good willed. That doesn’t always equal ethical. Romanians have quite a different view on animal suffering than we do in Finland, and for example euthanasia is a very controversial subject in Romania. A large number of Romanian animal protectors never use euthanasia, not even in cases of serious illness. We usually can’t and won’t give statements on the trustworthiness of other animal welfare organizations, because we can only evaluate the ones we have some personal experiences from.
Some warning signals
- Dogs are not neutered. Especially bitches, but even males, must always be neutered in a shelter environment. Un- neutered dogs will breed freely and males get into fights over the females.
- The number of dogs is not correlating to the resources. If a shelter has hundreds of dogs but only a few people looking after them, or if there’s not enough food for all the dogs, it signals that the desire to help has escalated out of hand.
- The number of dogs increases uncontrollably. Every shelter has its maximum capacity; how many dogs the shelter can maintain without causing the dogs unnecessary suffering. If more dogs are taken in without increasing the resources, it is likely that the shelter is managed by a dog collector.
- Dogs are not euthanized. Many organizations will keep the dogs alive at any price, even very ill dogs that might be suffering greatly, and that will often die on their own, in the corner of the dog kennel, without anyone even noticing. There are also large numbers of handicapped dogs in Romanian shelters. Depending on the severity of the handicap, dogs can sometimes lead a life very close to normal. But in cases with paralysis there is a serious question on the quality of life of the dog. Especially when kept in a shelter environment, without the specialist help these dogs need. Even with diabetes one must consider that even though the illness is easily manageable at home, in a shelter environment it is very challenging. The treatment of distemper is very difficult even in the best possible conditions, but in Romania, despite the poor conditions, many try to treat it in shelters. At worse the disease will spread to the other dogs and you are amidst an epidemic.
- Dogs are not given for adoption. All shelters will not give dogs for adoption, especially abroad, some not even within Romania. If there’s no desire for a better life in a real home, you have to ask why. Love does not remove the stress the dogs endure when living in a shelter environment that is completely unnatural for their species. There’s several cases on Facebook where money has been collected for the care of one individual dog over and over again, and any enquiries on adoptions have been denied with different excuses. Later on it’s become apparent that the dog was completely healthy all along, and owned by someone else. Refusal to give dogs for adoptions is also a sign of dog collecting.
- Refusal to improve the dogs conditions on the demands of a foreign partner or in light of new information. Obviously all Romanian animal protectors have not got the time to get trained, and spend hours on the internet looking for information on the best methods on controlling dog populations, or maintaining a shelter. Attitudes take time to change and cultural and religious questions can make it harder to discuss issues like euthanasia. But if an organization is not interested in improving the welfare of its animals by simple (and often inexpensive) methods like efficient cleaning, isolation of sick animals etc, it seems that they are not promoting animal welfare. We have heard of shelters where puppies are not given booster vaccinations. Besides wasting money, as not giving boosters basically means that the initial vaccination was pointless, it also puts animals in real danger.
You need to keep in mind that it’s not all about lack of funds. All shelters need to prioritize things, as no-one can save everyone. The animal will always pay the price if animal protectors can’t calculate what they can and can’t afford. Numerous people in Romania keep small animal shelters, accommodating anything from a few to dozens of animals. They concentrate on rehabilitation and adoptions instead of continuously collecting more animals to the shelters, where they will spend the rest of their lives. If an animal collector is running a shelter, it doesn’t matter how much money they are given- the conditions for the animals are not improved, only more and more animals are taken in.
There are many admirable and respectable organizations in Romania, who should be supported. We can recommend (besides our partners Save the Dogs and animal Life) Romania Animal rescue, who do great work with sterilization campaigns all over Romania. SOS Dogs Oradea is also a reliable organization; results for their sterilizations program speak for themselves.
There are many organizations in Romania needing help and most of them are probably reliable. It’s always recommendable to get to know the organizations well before donating, to be sure your donation is not wasted, or supporting activities that can’t be classed as animal protection.
About adoptions (4)
Adoptions serve a bigger purpose. Without adoptions our shelters in Romania would be filled to the limit, and no strays could be taken in for neutering, nor could dogs that are in need of acute shelter, be taken in. Neutering is the most efficient way to solve the stray dog problem permanently. We also feel that a shelter environment is only suitable for dogs as a temporary solution. Even in the best shelters in the world, dogs suffer from stress and the inability to live a life typical to the species. Some dogs will require a lot more time at the shelter to rehabilitate, and to learn to trust humans again.
Save the Dogs does not have a strict no-kill policy. They will put down dogs that are too timid or aggressive to be rehabilitated for adoption. These dogs are not well, and euthanasia is the best act of animal welfare for them. Finding a good, responsible, loving home where the dogs natural needs are respected, changes the dogs’ entire life, even if it doesn’t change the world.
Approximately 75% of all dogs in the world are homeless.
1) Adopting a homeless dog is an animal welfare act when the right dog is matched with the right home. It helps to reduce the overpopulation and remarkably improves the quality of life for an individual dog.
2) There are relatively few homeless dogs in Finland. Obviously there are some, but the situation hasn’t got out of control, unlike in most countries outside of Scandinavia.
Friends of homeless dogs recommend adoption to experienced families. First you might want to check the selection of homeless dogs in Finland. We know from experience that sometimes you can’t find the dog that’s right for your life situation, the right size, age and breed background, in Finland. It is often said that dogs should not be imported to Finland as long as there’s even one Finnish dog without a home. Even though every homeless dog is a tragedy in itself, realistically it’s impossible to reach a situation where there would be no homeless dogs at all. Homeless dogs abroad face a destiny much worse than their Finnish counterparts: prolonged illnesses in poor shelter conditions.
Friends of homeless dogs carry a great responsibility both to Finland and Romania for the adoptions. This responsibility includes a strict process of selecting the adopting families. We do not want these dogs to be imported to Finland and ending up swapping homes. The dogs’ new owners get the support of the association for the rest of the dogs’ life. The owners have the responsibility to keep the association up to date on how the dog is doing. All dogs imported through the association are neutered. Only exceptional health issues can hinder neutering to be done in Romania. We think it’s paramount that dogs saved from homelessness are not themselves allowed to increase the overpopulation anywhere in the world.
Many have been worried that dogs that are used to roam the streets in freedom, are now captured inside four walls. In reality very few of the Romanian dogs looking for new homes, are originally street dogs. A typical dog in the adoption program has been at the shelter since it was a puppy. Puppies are abandoned to the shelters almost daily, even if free sterilizations have been offered in the area for more than ten years already. Sometimes the puppies have been weaned from their mothers far too early and in worst cases, they have to be put down because their chances of survival are nonexistent. The puppies stay at the shelter long enough to be safely vaccinated, and are then transferred to the group waiting to be adopted.
The puppies have not necessarily met any violence at the shelters, but the crucial period for socialization is incomplete. They have got human attention mainly when received treatments, and they only know the life at a shelter. They are not used to the life in a house with hoovers, televisions or outside traffic.
Another large group of dogs waiting for adoption, are the abandoned pet dogs. Many of these dogs are small, which makes it very difficult for them to survive on the streets.
Unfortunately the answer is no. Friends of homeless dogs is a registered importer and every dog is registered with Traces. We simply cannot import dogs unknown to us as we are responsible for the dog’s health, and meeting the import requirements.
We recommend that you adopt a dog through one of the Finnish associations, to be sure that the documents are genuine and that the import requirements are met.
You can read the joint statement from Friends of homeless dogs and Pelastetaan koirat ry on this matter (in finnish) here.
If you decide to import a dog on your own, be sure to research the Finnish import requirements, and the vaccinations and tests required, to be sure the dog is healthy on arrival in Finland