Adopting A Romanian Rescue Dog

adopting a dog from overseas

Cats and dogs in Romania face horrific abuse, danger, starvation, and fight for survival on the streets. Dogs are caught by paid dog catchers and brutalised, then thrown in public kill shelters. Further abuse, starvation, disease, fighting other dogs for food and water to survive, then slaughtered by humans without any form of humanity and respect, becomes their life … and the end of it.

What is it like for dogs in a public shelter? What do we know about the organisations getting these abused dogs to safety? This article includes Teddy, a giant crossbreed rescued from the Calarsi public kill shelter in Romanian. If anyone walks around North Withernsea, you will have met Teddy.

Teddy is a shy old placid dog from the streets, caught and thrown into a notorious kill shelter. International Dog Rescue is one charity that relies on donations and sponsorships to fund travel and medical costs to save these dogs. A British woman called Marlene sponsored Teddy, saving his life as he had 24 hours to live. Saved dogs are transported by road to UK rescues, one being Hull-based Oakwood Dog Rescue, where they can be introduced to potential owners and adopted if the right match. These dogs will have emotional and physical scars and need committed owners. Teddy has signs of abuse, but even so, he is forgiving, sweet-natured, friendly to people and other dogs, and adapted to home life easily. But not every abused dog will find a safe life easy.

What is the life of a dog in Romania?

International Dog Rescue saves Romanian dogs
Saved by International Dog Rescue -image from Oakwood Dog Rescue’s website

Dogs face cruelty in the UK, but we have welfare acts and laws which never stop the abuse. Legitimate rescues in England will be clean. Dogs will be fed, watered, have warmth, be safe and have all they need from a qualified veterinary surgeon. Well, unless a fake rescue.

In Romania, there are minimal welfare laws. Dogs are on the streets in cities because they were born into that life or dumped by families and left to survive in a frightening existence. Dog catchers hunt them, often men. To be caught by a Romanian dog catcher means horrendous brutality for a dog. Our dog Teddy has half an ear as a sharp object was used to cut his ear off.

Did you know that being a dog catcher in Romania is a sole trader business? They are paid to keep dogs off the streets, catch them and often kill them.

For those poor animals whose fate is imprisonment, their living conditions are filth, disease, and cages deep with excrement. The scent of fear and death around them is from cruelty and rotting carcasses piled up nearby. A dog’s only salvation is organizations set up to save them from a barbaric life of mental and physical torture followed by an inhumane death.

International Dog Rescue raise funds via sponsorship and donations to transport dogs to Western Europe. First, a vet completes vaccinations and neutering before leaving Romania. Then, a British Hull-based rescue, Oakwood Dog Rescue, assesses each dog and searches for new happy homes in the UK. These dogs receive food, warmth and veterinary treatment. This is why donations are so important. Volunteers travel to Romania and bravely witness the despicable conditions and the viciousness against cats and dogs – harmless animals that only want love and a safe place.

YearRomanian dogs imported into the UK
Statistics from The Guardian

How do you search for a rescue dog?

Visit a British rescue centre website as they often have overseas and British dogs listed. On the internet will be advertising platforms showing animals for sale but be cautious. Dealers who have purchased from puppy farms will advertise on these platforms, and some will include stolen dogs.

Dave approached the British registered charity Oakwood Dog Rescue based in Hull on Sutton Fields, near Kingswood.

“Well, I started going on Facebook and putting in ‘rescue dogs’ into the search button. Up popped Oakwood and Teddy, so I arranged an appointment to meet him. It was love at first sight. I just knew he was for me. Oakwood sent me photos of him and some film.”

Dave Kay

Please do so if you can sponsor or donate and help get a dog to safety.

Oakwood provides a lengthy Adoption Contract which details a great deal of information about your adopted dog.

  • Dog’s date of birth and breed
  • Date of Adoption
  • New owner agreement to provide annual vaccinations, de-flead monthly, wormed every three months, pet insurance in place, castrated or spayed if not already completed. The terms continue onto page 2.
  • Specific issues which can be helpful
  • Next flea, worming and booster/kennel cough dates
  • Microchip

Breeds when adopting a dog from Romania

Oakwood Dog Rescue note Teddy’s breed as a giant Romanian crossbreed, but he resembles a Moiritic Shepherd dog.

Teddy could be a mix of other types of dogs. It does not make him a Romanian breed, even though he was born in Romania. For example, someone owns a Chihuahua in Romania – this breed is not a Romanian breed of Chihuahua.

Your dog and Teddy are probably a mix of breeds from mating on Romanian streets.

DNA testing can determine your dog’s genetic makeup and clinical conditions relating to a breed

I can’t advise on DNA, but if you want to know your dog’s breed, finding a reputable company is important. Searching for a laboratory that undertakes genetic testing specialising in breed identification would be best. Pet Plan suggested Embark Vet.

Visit the Kennel Club’s DNA genetics article. It is more for those thinking of breeding, but worth a read.

Being prepared to adopt a dog from another country

Animals are for life


Dog ownership is more than walks on a sunny day, the obedient dog who is never naughty, a dog who is never ill, and a dog without emotional scars from the past.

You may be faced with the following:

  • An emotionally scarred dog
  • A dog with fear and unable to settle with men or children
  • A dog who is not used to normal home sounds walking on a lead
  • Your dog may not settle inside the confines of a home and attempt to escape
  • Your dog may see competition for food in another animal

The other points to understand when adopting a dog from overseas are:

  • Make sure you meet your chosen dog before adopting
  • A dog may be terrified of men because of brutality experienced abroad
  • A dog may not get on with other pets, especially cats and small furries
  • A dog may never adjust to Western life
  • Will you need to pay for dog training in the UK?
  • A dog will be more complex – are you ready to give up your time? Especially if a first-time dog owner
  • A dog’s true history will be unknown

I read about an owner who persevered with her street dog as it could not cope with a home environment. She paid a lot of money for training, and this was a success over time, but the cost included veterinary bills for Fluoxetine (AKA Prozac).

“Was I prepared mentally? Yes, 100% and absolutely committed physically. I am 58 years old and have been driving since the age of 21 and never walked very far for a long time. With Teddy, the initial five-mile walks killed me for the first two weeks. Then one day, I got up, and it was easy!”

Dave Kay

Recommendations in the contract for Teddy were:

  • Teddy will need time to get to know Dave, his new owner, the home and garden, a collar, and walking outside with new sounds and scents in the first two weeks might be overwhelming for Teddy
  • Teddy must not be walked off-lead unless his recall is 100%
  • He may try to escape during the first few weeks, so be vigilant of open doors, garden gates and fencing
  • Teddy will not be used to a home and may toilet indoors. He must not be punished
  • Walk Teddy in quiet places as other dogs off-lead running at him may be too much to cope with
  • At home, training can be completed with a trailing line
  • Teddy is shy, so let your new dog come to you. Let his progress at his own pace
  • Oakwood are available for any help should the need arise

Personalities of overseas dogs can vary

When Teddy was first weighed at Oakwood Dog Rescue, he weighed 42kg, so for a giant crossbreed, he was severely underweight.

Teddy is calm, shy, loyal, and stubborn. He has never had toileting or anxiety issues indoor, but I have read about dogs that cannot settle and have escaped home and gardens from fear.

How to sponsor an overseas dog

It costs between £215 to £300 to transport a dog from Romania’s horrendous conditions to England. The link below will take you to a page featuring dogs in Romania. The majority have been funded for travel to the UK. The profiles are divided into dates when the public shelter will put the dogs to sleep. I somehow doubt euthanasia will be humane. Each dog has an allocated reference number. Below the details is a Paypal logo (it is very pale). Click on the Paypal image, and you are taken to a page where you can add your donation amount. Every £1 helps get a dog out of hell and to safety and onwards to either a foster home or a permanent loving home.

Adopting a dog during Covid-19

“I always wanted a dog, and when the virus came, then the first lockdown, there was no better time to get one. So I started looking, and as I am a big animal lover, it had to be a rescue! So I got in touch with Oakwood Dog Rescue centre, and after filling out the adoption form, and two weeks later, I got a phone call and up popped Teddy. I was in love instantly.”

Dave Kay

Many UK rescues stopped all pet adoptions through Covid-19 because people wanted a dog during lockdown, and as we’ve witnessed since, purchased dogs have been given up to rescue centres.

Of course, Oakwood Dog Rescue and International Dog Rescue had their own rules and procedures. The good news is that Oakwood has rescue backup (RBU) if the adoption fails. It protects a dog that has already been through far too much.

The procedures with Oakwood Dog Rescue

Every rescue has its procedures.

“I filled out an adoption form and told Oakwood about myself, and it asks if you are working or not. You can choose a type of dog, size and breed. Whatever you want and you can tick a box. I ticked ‘any’. Then I went on to the website to look at the dogs coming in, and I found a dog I wanted … he had sad eyes. I ticked the box and submitted my choice. But this dog wasn’t due in England yet. Two weeks later, Oakwood contacted me about a hairy dog named Teddy, as he was coming in earlier than my choice. They sent me photos and a film. The film was awful. So sad. I asked can I come in to meet him and went in on Tuesday. They did a home check, but it was virtually by WhatsApp because of the virus. I showed her the full house, gates, boundary, the garden, then we spoke for 20 minutes, and she said yes, I could be a potential adopter.”

Dave Kay

As we can see, dogs from overseas are transferred to British animal shelters. You may have considered a career as an animal carer and be interested in my article Working as Animal an Animal Care Assistant – the information is based on being employed with the RSPCA.

Perhaps you prefer to learn more about rescue animals, or having the opportunity to train abroad or understand more about first aid to help your own pets, please look at my article about studying at home. The learning provider approved the article for use on the Poppy’s Pets website.

What is it like to be introduced to a street dog?

This is a first-hand experience when a man meets a Romanian-abused street dog he hopes to adopt.

“I sat in the room, and they brought him in and walked him around.  Everyone left the room and left Teddy and me together. It was love at first sight. Teddy was great and calm. He stayed with me for five or ten minutes then wandered off to go outside as I don’t think he was used to being indoors.  I spoke with a carer who looked after him, and she explained his eating habits, rotting teeth … or what he had left as most had been lost in his former life by some horrible person …. and about wet food. They recommended dry food to help the teeth and get rid of the plaque. Oakwood fed him on Royal Canin Shelter food.”

Dave Kay

What do you know about Teddy’s life in Romania?

“The film that Oakwood sent me was awful. Teddy was in a slaughterhouse with one day to go. Before all this, he lived his life in a 10′ x 6′ steel cage outside in all weather. Not nice at all. “

Dave Kay

What happened when you decided to adopt Teddy?

“After meeting Teddy, I sat down with two people and they talked me through the adoption clause for about 45 minutes. It went from there, and they told me to get in touch with any questions. They asked me: ‘What do you think of him and do you think you can make a home with him?’ Well, it was love. Anyway, that was Tuesday. Wednesday, I picked him up and brought him home.”

Dave Kay

Adoption costs, medical side, paperwork & quarantine

The costs to adopt in the UK differs from sponsorship to transport a dog from Romanian to the UK. Sponsorship helps fund a dog’s removal from overseas.

Costs to adopt a Romanian dog from Oakwood Dog Rescue when in a U.K. rescue:

AgePrice to Adopt
Dogs aged 10+£50
Dogs aged 7 to 9£180
Dogs aged 1 to 6£250
Dogs under 1£350
Pure and / or Rare Breeds£350
Prices correct 2019

Whether as a sponsor or adopt as an owner, International Dog Rescue deals with veterinary checks and vaccinations. So you do not have to worry about this.

“The cost depends on the age of the dog, so the older a dog is, the cheaper it is. I paid about £160, but they say ‘plus’ as hope for donations on top, I think. I bought food off them for £20. It was a high protein food.”

Dave Kay

Teddy has a passport (pasaport pentru animale de compane from Uniunea Europeana Romania). Inside are details of his microchip origin, vaccination against rabies, and other stuff (echinococcus treatment, kennel cough, other antiparasitic treatment and other vaccination treatment, clinical examination). The passport has a legal stamp too.

“I know Teddy arrived in here on 27th June 2020 and his birthday is 24th April and he will be spoilt rotten.”

Dave Kay

Did Teddy cope with a car journey and home life as a street dog?

Teddy’s first day in his new home

Your rescue dog will be used to living on the streets, not domestic life. This new dog in your life will be a long-term commitment. Be prepared; the pooch may not adapt quickly to home life or even walk on a lead and escape as used to freedom. There may be defensive growling, and it will not be used to being handled. Being in a car or van may be a frightening reminder of the journey from Romanian because of all the worrying smells and noises. Are you prepared for the long haul?

“I drove from the other side of Hull, so an hour away. I picked him up and put in the boot. He was underweight at 42kg then. He laid down, but he was car sick. He had travelled all the way from Romanian in a van, probably not knowing what was going on. And now he was back in a car. When I first got him home, he just walked around the house. He went halfway up the stairs once but never had again. But does the beach steps.  Teddy just sniffed the house. He won’t go to the lounge. I don’t know why. His fosterer he doesn’t like the TV.”

Dave Kay

Teddy was officially adopted on 10th July 2020 – how is life now?

Dave & Teddy on Withernsea beach – Summer 2020

“It’s March 2021 now, and Teddy settled in very good. It is just him and me in the house 95% of the time, but we have a couple of new editions to the family from December! Anyway, Teddy loves chicken.  I said to him I was having a vindaloo, and Teddy sniffed chicken breast. Don’t worry; I didn’t give him curry. I wouldn’t. Anyway, he had two plain cooked chicken breasts and now eats five freshly cooked chickens a week in with dog food.   He has dry and tinned food three times a day.

Teddy is the best dog on a lead. He doesn’t pull and has three walks a day, sometimes four. He is the most friendly dog with all other dogs. He is well-known around Withernsea, and I call him Uncle Ted when we meet other dogs! Teddy hasn’t got a bad bone in his body despite abuse – a stoning caused him to lose his front teeth. He has leg scars and half of the ear. He has been through a lot of pain.  Absolutely brill with dogs and people. The best dog you can ever have. And has never had any accidents in the house. He has never tried to escape and doesn’t bark even when the delivery guy knocks on my door with a kebab!”

Dave Kay

It is time to rethink dog walking gear because of increased dog thefts. There are anti-theft and anti-cut leads, harness, and collars made with flexible stainless steel wire, which can prevent sudden theft attempts during dog walks. Dogs are used for breeding, profit and bait – this is the harsh reality.

Related articles:

In memory of Lizuca

In 2015, Lizuca was part of a group of dogs rescued from hell in Romania and bound for a rescue in the UK. The transport stopped at a kennel in Tilney All Saints, near Kings Lynn, West Norfolk and Lizuca escaped. She was sighted in Marsh Road, Green Marsh Road, Burhams) in Terrington St Clements, West Norfolk. A friend and I helped search.

Her Dog Lost UK link is here, so please comment, share, etc., on her profile. I hope she is still alive and that a local farmer fed and befriended this frightened dog. This poor girl never knew she was heading to safety and a new, brighter life. Instead, she runs and faces survival alone.

A special dedication to Marlene from Dave

“With a great big thanks to Marlene for sponsoring Teddy to get him here because he had one day left in the slaughterhouse. And that’s how it is.”

Dave Kay


The reason I write and make YouTube videos is to help you and your pets from my experiences, and to take you through a journey of Green Living from worm composting and bokashi.

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