Dana rescued her first dog, Printz, from illegal dog fights. He was a mix-German Shepherd who opened Dana’s eyes to the cruelty facing millions of dogs in Romania.
Dana established ROLDA, the first group of animal rescuers in Galati (the 5th largest city located in south east of Romania, who had approximately 30,000 strays). The public pound, built during communist times, where dogs were routinely electrocuted and skinned alive, was still active. There was no sterilisation program in place.
ROLDA secured their first celebrity endorsement, Beatrice Welles, the daughter of the famous actor Orson Welles and she generously financially sustained our rescue actions.
Printz died because of liver problems. A few months later, Dana adopted Boss, a mix Saint Bernard with major behavioral problems, due to the conditions he was living in. Had Dana not adopted him, he otherwise would have been euthanised. Same year, ROLDA secured an agreement with a local vet to begin an intensive sterilisation campaign in Galati city.
ROLDA purchased land in the village of Smardan (near Galati) in order to build what it is today, our first small sanctuary. Same year, ROLDA completed first kennels inspired by British wood model dog sheltering.
Construction of the small sanctuary began: the first block of 10 kennels is built, inspired by the British model (with insulated indoor areas, outdoor areas and running spaces) and a small house for operational staff and volunteers. Same year, ROLDA welcomed the visit of Animal People Magazine’ journalists from the USA which nominated ROLDA the best shelter amongst 17 others from all over Eastern Europe.ROLDA also received the first invitation to attend and speak at CHAMP International conference held in Orlando, Florida. The dog Bela joined Dana in her journey across the ocean and she became the first ROLDA dog adopted in the United States. Later same year, ROLDA completed the second block of 10 kennels.
ROLDA team finished the shelter management training course organized by Dogs Trust UK. The same year, a group of vets visiting from the USA assisted our ROLDA vet to sterilise street dogs in Galati. In summer, Dana was invited to talk at the CHAMP International conference for the second time. The conference was held in San Diego, CA. Next, Dana attended training with the Helen Woodward Animal Center, facilitated by Mike Arms, a pioneer in the animal welfare industry. Later the same year, ROLDA launches a campaign against the dog cull organised by a local steel plant.
In February, ROLDA Foundation becomes a registered NGO in Romania.
In March, Dana visited the UK to seek help with her mission in Romania. A mass sterilisation campaign is held in Galati and a US filming crew created a documentary about this event. Same year, Loretta Switt (”Hot Lips” from M.A.S.H. series) well known american activist for animals visited ROLDA shelter. On 4th of July, ROLDA became an incorporated charity in the United States under the name Romanian League in Defense of Animals, Inc. Same year, ROLDA purchased the land where the large dogs sanctuary is today.
ROLDA began a partnership with the local giant steel producer to help humanely solve their stray dog population, estimated to 10000 dogs. Soon after, construction of the large paddocks began, which are able to house hundreds of dogs. The only reason we agreed to build and manage a sanctuary at such large scale was to save the dogs from being poisoned or killed in other brutal ways, as it happened until then in the steel plant. ROLDA rescue van was purchased along with humane catching equipment and we were able to hire more staff to help in our efforts.
8 paddocks (80 kennels) from the total of 12 (which currently exist) were built at the large sanctuary.
Approx 10000 stray (according to the steel plant management) were captured, feed, housed and rehabilitated, when needed. A significant percentage was adopted across Europe in forever homes. During this period, using only humane methods, ROLDA was able to decrease the number of strays from the steel plant giant from 1000 to 1000.
4 more paddocks were finished at the large sanctuary, reaching a total of 12 paddocks (120 kennels). Dana was invited as a speaker to a public event organized in Switzerland for ROLDA, there she met Lolita Morena, a celebrity animal activist who had and continues to have a profound impact on ROLDA activity. Same year, ROLDA started the renovation work at the small sanctuary.
The large dogs’ sanctuary is registered in TRACES. The building which will be equipped to function as a veterinary clinic was finished. After Romania and the United States, we open a new branch in Norway, under the name ROLDA – Gatehunder fra Romania. A team from NRK TV (National TV from Norway) visits both ROLDA sanctuaries.
Lolita Morena visits ROLDA sanctuaries for the first time. Same year, Lolita organizes a protest in Geneva against the new legislation that permits killing of strays in Romania, Swiss media is invited. Later this year, ROLDA purchased additional land in the vicinity of the large sanctuary.
ROLDA starts new branches in Switzerland (Association ROLDA Suisse), Sweden (Association ROLDA Sverige) and Australia (ROLDA Inc). New milestones completed: 250 dogs rehomed in Norway and 700 dogs rehomed in the Netherlands.
ROLDA starts new branches in UK (ROLDA UK) and Germany (ROLDA Deutschland – Save Romania Strays e.V.) ROLDA creates “real life rooms” where our team evaluates dog’s behavior, isolated from the noises and distractions created by the other dogs. Because of the generosity of Swiss supporters, hundreds of acacia trees were planted to form a natural wind barrier around the large sanctuary to protect it against the snow storms.
ROLDA celebrates 10 years of existence. ROLDA initiated an education campaign in partnership with local schools. New milestone reached: ROLDA sterilized 9000 dogs captured from the steel plant giant. Same year, the partnership with the steel plant stops because the collaboration contract is abusively terminated. ROLDA starts two legal actions against the steel plant.
ROLDA starts the renovation of the small house from the small sanctuary (which is used as administration office, recovery area for dogs, isolation for the rescued puppies, bathing and grooming area for the dogs etc)
ROLDA won the first trial against the steel plant but the giant corporation’s army of lawyers appeals the Court decision. ROLDA starts Donate a doghouse campaign for the dogs living in poor, rural areas in Romania.
First trial against the steel plant is finally over. After over 3 years of battles in court, ROLDA defeats the steel plant. We can start the 2nd trial (suspended until the 1st trial finished) which is about Mittal Lakshmi, one of the richest men on Earth, owner of the steel plant who refuses to feed the dogs captured by ROLDA and housed in our sanctuary, as agreed in the signed contract. ROLDA created a petition where animal lovers from all over the World can remind the rich man to feed the poor dogs.
New milestone reached: 20000 animals helped since we exist.