I unintentionally rescued my first dog when I was 20 years old.
While walking home, I heard an animal whimpering in pain. I followed its cries to a nearby park, where, behind
a bush, I found a German Shepperd lying on its side. His fur was matted with fresh and dried blood, and his
body was covered in wounds. To this day, I am convinced that he was a victim of a dog-fighting ring and was
abandoned to die because he had no more fights in him.
But he did. He fought valiantly ... to live.
My family and I nurtured him back to health, and he lived happily with us for four years.
His name was Printz.
I miss him. A lot. Printz taught me a very valuable lesson that changed my life forever. I believe Printz and I
were destined to meet so that I would speak up for voiceless animals in Romania who are victims of neglect
and abuse. After Printz's passing, I was overwhelmed with insufferable grief and a dream to help save animals
in my hometown.
Back then this seemed like an impossible dream, but time, patience, and faith turned my dream into reality.
ROLDA opened its doors to its first 60 rescue dogs in 2006. Today, ROLDA is an international charity helped
by skilled staff from 3 continents and supported by generous, loyal supporters. Together, we have saved over
15,000 animals in a country where the estimated stray population is 2.5 million. ROLDA has also made
incredible progress to prove that sterilization campaigns work to dramatically reduce the stray population in a
humane manner. In 6 years, ROLDA's sterilization campaigns have reduced the stray population in Galati from
10,000 to 200 (read more)
Although ROLDA is still growing and working to expand its services to animals across all of Romania, we now
have the resources to extend our help to another neglected group along the way.
Some 3 million senior citizens subsist in poverty, loneliness, and hopelessness. They've been excluded from
the rest of society, who seem indifferent to their existence. I've been wanting to help these senior citizens for
some years, and now that we can, we are working towards that.
Science and modern medicine have proven that humans and pets benefit greatly from one another. I personally
have been experiencing these benefits for over a decade without knowing that these studies existed. Every
day, I am greeted by the 600 dogs from our ROLDA shelter. Every time I feel depressed, upset, or disturbed,
being surrounded by my dogs uplifts my spirit—I feel a different energy just watching them play. But I also feel
the urge to give them something back for cheering me up and making my worries go away. They needed me
because they had no one else. I knew that. But I felt special around them because they were special for me,
I have visited several senior citizens in the villages near our sanctuary who have no family except their pets.
They are spending their twilight years alone, barely subsisting because their pension barely covers their food
and medication bills. But the one good thing they all had in common was they do not want to abandon their
pets. Then there are those senior citizens who live in tiny apartments where pets are prohibited. The loneliness
and isolation are unbearable, and their longing for a companion is heartbreaking.
These visits brought me great sadness, but they also gave me a wonderful idea: these lonely seniors could
benefit from the company of our dogs...and vice versa!
The benefits of having a pet are recognized worldwide: reduced heart failure risk, reduced depression risk, and so on. Strays saved from danger and abuse have never known kindness, and who better to give them that the gentle touch of a lonely senior citizen. Then again, patience is the best recovery treatment for a stray in rehabilitation.
My next dream is called PawzUp. A place where these two lonely souls can bond together so that they may
grow happy together in harmony.
Is it impossible?
My first dream wasn't. Therefore, I believe it is. Is it challenging? Yes. Is it expensive? I don't believe so because there is no number to measure the price of a senior citizen's smile or wagging tail of a rescued dog.
Or the miracle of two saved souls!