During July 2022, Sophie flew to Romania to offer a helping hand to one of our partner charities, Save The Dogs Romania, an animal welfare organisation located in the Constanta region. Their aim is to promote a culture in Romania where people recognise the importance of animal welfare in their communities, and where the inhumane killing of stray dogs stops.
Read all about Sophie's experience in Romania below...
"Although I have always volunteered with animal welfare groups, I have never experienced shelter medicine from the perspective of a nurse. I have spent most of my career working in hospitals with all the fancy toys and gadgets, so I had no idea what to expect when I arrived at Save The Dogs in Romania."
"I arrived in Cernavoda and was met at the train station by two staff members who welcomed me and took me to the shelter to meet people, do the necessary paperwork and make sure I would be ready to start as a nurse the next day. My first impression was that this is an excellent medical facility with a big emphasis on infection control within the clinic. The entire facility is made up of three areas - the hospital with inpatient wings, the shelter (which houses the dogs who are not undergoing any medical treatment and are either ready to be adopted or going through rehabilitation), and the donkey sanctuary."
"Most of my time would be spent at the hospital, and I would disappear to cuddle the donkeys on my lunch break. Everyday was different and I enjoyed learning how to treat patients with different medications and protocols."
"One of the big problems globally is there is a lack of education and awareness regarding preventative health care such as parasitic treatment, vaccinations, and also animal birth control. Save The Dogs is really helping both the local community around them plus the wider audience with promoting this."
"On two of the days, the clinic had a ‘spay-a-thon’ and 40 animals per day (who are owned by people in the local area) were spayed and given parasitic treatment for free. I had never experienced an event like this before and everything worked like clockwork due to the very capable vets and nurses, it was very impressive! I also got the chance to visit some of the street animals that Save The Dogs care for on a daily basis, making sure daily medication or the right kind of food was given. These animals are clearly very happy living on the street, and do very well like this. They would not be suitable for shelter life or adoption, so this is the best way to care for them. If they ever need veterinary attention then they are brought into the clinic."
"I don’t speak Romanian so I was initially worried about that, but most of the staff speak English, and my little team of volunteers had many different nationalities, all of us trying to learn from the local nurses who were thankfully very happy to teach us. I and the other volunteers were made to feel very welcome."
"You can see everyone who works here really loves these animals, which is always an amazing environment to be in. I was sad to leave after a week, I would love to go back and hopefully I can make that happen in the future! I have started researching how to use my love of nursing to become more involved with charities, and would love to work more with charities in the future."
If you’ve been inspired by Sophie's experience and feel ready to get hands-on with helping animals in need in, take a look at our volunteer placements around the world.
Got questions about volunteering abroad? We have got the answers to your most frequently asked questions. Our team are on hand to help you from start to finish.