FiXiT loves to promote those that are creating solutions for ending overpopulation. Nancy Janes started her non-profit, Romania Animal Rescue (RAR), in 2003, with a goal to spay/neuter as many dogs as possible. Romania’s severe dog overpopulation problem was multi-faceted, requiring long-term solutions and thoughtful approaches. At first she met with severe resistance among people. There were those who believed that a female would make a better pet if she had birthed at least one litter. Conversely, they thought male dogs were entitled to have their fun. To combat the idea that pets were happier reproducing, Janes pointed out to her detractors that once the puppies were weaned, they were often disposed of in inhumane ways. Wouldn’t it be kinder for the dogs to avoid that situation?
Money was also an issue. Many of the people Janes encountered earned approximately $200 a month, making elective pet care a low priority, so Janes decided to hold a free spay/neuter week at a veterinary clinic in Galati, Romania. She had rubber bracelets produced that said in Romanian, “Sterilize your dogs and cats. Give them a new chance.” Billboard space was purchased advertising the event. To her surprise, people were lined up around the block on the first day.
As word spread, Janes realized RAR could make a difference. She enlisted American veterinarians to help train their Romanian counterparts. Janes expanded the spay/neuter services to other areas and hired a permanent, full-time Romanian vet in 2008, Dr. Stefan Aurelian, who had trained in the U.S. RAR has performed 18,000 spay/neuter surgeries in the last 10 years but Janes says that the majority have occurred since 2009. She credits Aurelian and his team of five for making the difference.
Only one in ten procedures is performed on cats, who seem to have an easier life than dogs. In a country of 21 million humans, there are 2.5 million canines, many of whom are homeless. Janes says that people are fearful of dogs because the ferals pack-up and pose a public safety problem. While RAR never turns away a cat, their primary focus remains reducing the dog population to ensure more and better homes for those already here. Janes and Aurelian estimate that those 18,000 surgeries have probably saved millions of lives by preventing unwanted puppies from entering an unforgiving world.
Janes notes that given the knowledge and tools, most people want to provide a better life for their pets. She also proves that one dedicated person can make it possible.
photo credit: Camil Agapie via photopin cc