We look ahead and see a bright future.
Willow Haven – Open Shelter at Calarasi
We are extremely excited, because in May 2017 we broke ground on our new open shelter at Calarasi. The land to build it has been donated to us on a long leasehold.
The concept of an open shelter is novel, in as much as the majority of the dogs live (as the name would suggest) in large open areas where they are free to roam and live as naturally as possible while they await their forever homes. We do have 12 pens there that would hold up to 5 dogs each, where dogs can be separated out to, if need be, but the main part of the shelter is divided into 3 large open areas, one for small dogs and adolescent pups, one for larger confident dogs and one for vulnerable dogs. These 3 areas cover approximately 15,000 square meters, so there is plenty of room for the 250 or so dogs in these areas. There are barns being built for the dogs to sleep in (which will be heated a little in winter), and doghouses (kennels) dotted around for those who prefer their own space.
In an open shelter dogs have the space to run, should there be a conflict, and so they don’t have to stay and fight. They have space to run around and play and so they are less stressed generally, meaning they are less inclined to cause conflict. Dogs that have been in kennels (in some cases for years) can now actually run! In addition, because the dogs are not held is very close proximity, the incidence of illness and disease should be less.
We have capacity for a further 100 or so dogs here, but we need to complete the building work before we take any more dogs here.
We plan to have a clinic at this site, which will not only provide veterinary care for our own dogs, but also provide free spay and neuter for the community, and cheaper access to veterinary care for local people. We also intend to run educational programs from here, in the care and upkeep of dogs, going into schools to help educate the upcoming generations to a kinder and more loving outlook to dogs.
We see this place as our flagship for the future. Unfortunately, we are now out of funds for this project, and still have some of the building work to complete, including buying solar panels and a wind turbine for sustainable energy to run the shelter. These will cost approximately £12,500, but are essential to provide the energy needed for light, heat and safety of the dogs through the long winter that is almost upon us. We also need a further £20,000 to complete the other building work.
Shelter in Northern Calarasi County – We are currently in the process of buying a piece of land with another rescue organisation that is about ¾ of an hour north of the open shelter. This will be a more traditional shelter with pens and kennels for 4-5 dogs per pen. However, instead of the usual 2.5m x 2.5m pen size, we will have pens of 8.5m x 4m and a very large exercise area where the dogs can be let out to play every day. This should provide a much better shelter experience for dogs awaiting homes than some other shelters. We will own half of the shelter, and we are likely to be able to house 250 of our dogs there. The other rescue group will also have approx. 250 dogs there.
Land is very reasonable in Romania, and the cost of the land itself is only 5,000 euros (between the two rescue organisations). We have been loaned our share of the purchase, as well as a further £10,000 towards the development. However, we will still need to raise an estimated £40,000 for this project.
This site will complement our open shelter further south in Calarasi, as it will provide the more traditional environment for dogs that perhaps are not able to live in the open shelter for whatever reason, or perhaps can’t even live with other dogs, giving us the capacity to move the dogs around depending on their needs.