On the outskirts of Alba Yulia, near the water treatment plant, on a site surrounded by a tin fence, dozens of souls are waiting for caress and someone faithful to him until the last moment.
It is about stray dogs from the municipality, who have arrived at the public shelter in Alba Iulia City Hall. Dozens of dogs, who were not so lucky to stay in a house, sleep on a sofa with a beautiful collar around their necks, to receive rewards and go for a walk with their owners.
These are dogs left on the street or in the field, or even thrown from cars. About dogs being chased by stones, or hit by cars when they run away with a disoriented mind, or who are afraid to bark at people in the street.
There’s also a glimmer of hope in the whole sad story of a stray dog: the Azure Friends Association volunteers, a handful of people from Alba Yulia who spend a good part of their free time looking after the dogs at the shelter.
Alba24.ro reporters went to meet the volunteers and find out what motivates them to take care of stray dogs swarming from the city streets. We spoke to Andreea Anghel and Georgiana Chivoiu who showed us what those who want to save stray dogs do.
On Friday I found them near the shelter while the dogs were walking. On a weekly basis, depending on the weather and schedule, volunteers take the dogs out of their cages and lead them around the shelter. Outdoor leash walks are part of a program that prepares dogs for potential adoption.
It is worth noting that Alba Iulia is among the only cities in the country where the Animal Protection Society has good relations and cooperation with the local administration in this regard.
More precisely, those from the Association of Friends of Azor, but also from Arche Noah Transilvania, have a cooperative relationship with Alba Iulia City Hall. Volunteers have access to the shelter, they can access the dogs at any time, and town hall staff manage and clean the place.
How do dogs get to the shelter in Alba Yulia
“These dogs don’t fall from the sky, they are collateral victims of indifference,” Andrea tells us, as we walk among the volunteers who walked the dogs.
Most shelter dogs are males. There are dogs that either run away from the yard and their owners don’t want them, or are euthanized because they are sick or too old. Also, a big problem, according to volunteers, is that dog owners do not neuter them, even though they are required to do so by law since 2013.
Then, when animals are seen on the street, citizens call and report to the authorities that they have seen a stray dog. Some do it because they want to save them, others because they can’t stand the dogs and want to get rid of them.
Dogs also protect against a lack of information for those who want a dog that has not previously been documented about the breed they want to control. There are also people who don’t realize that a dog is a long-term commitment.
Those who don’t know about the breed end up in possession of a very energetic dog, which needs a lot of attention, and then give it up, and those who don’t know how much time to give to the dog, end up letting them go.
Dogs in all of the above cases automatically resort to the shelter.
Volunteers – an interface between an animal and a person who wants to adopt
Alba Yulia volunteers don’t just visit puppies or walk them. No, it’s the only real interface through which a dog can be adopted. But by the time of adoption there is a whole process by which the dog must be prepared for a new owner.
Most of the dogs were psychologically traumatized, beaten, brought up in miserable conditions or forgotten on a chain, with a piece of bread lying next to it, and a jug of water half empty.
To be eligible for adoption, volunteers must ensure that they are able to interact with people. Almost all of them end up being afraid in the shelter, but through a lot of work, they make progress, get used to the people around them, and even walk on a leash.
Among the dogs that roamed the shelter, she met Ada, who had come to overcome her fear of dogs. A year has passed since then.
Ada was afraid of dogs, especially street dogs. That’s when he decided to volunteer. In a year, he not only overcame his fear, but also became a volunteer who arrived at the shelter weekly.
Volunteers want to update the adoption process: a playground for dogs and a meeting place for those who want to adopt
I met Georgiana in a dog cage. He walks and knows each one of them and knows their needs.
The adoption process is long, even after the dog has traveled the residence route described above. Volunteers promote dogs. Specifically, each dog is laid out and has a description as accurate as possible, so that the potential owner knows the mood of the animal.
It’s a real PR campaign for animal volunteers. But in addition to the online part, the adoption process actually takes place: when a person comes to meet the dog.
At the moment, there is no suitable meeting place between a human and a dog for adoption, in Alba Yulia. In order for a dog and a man to get to know each other, they need a suitable space.
In this sense, the volunteers want to create a playground and a meeting place for dogs and people behind the shelter. The space should be equipped with sandpits, water pools for dogs, and various playgrounds. This will be where a man can meet a dog and then adopt it.
In a world where time is no longer friendly to people, where activities rob us of almost all day, a group of people find the strength to give a few hours a week to beings that many go unnoticed.
They are friends of Azor and the whole activity, but also details about the possibility of adopting a dog, which you can follow on the Facebook page, “Azor Friends”.
Video report by Christian Pano and Raul Paseo.
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