I start this message to you with no idea where to begin, staring at a blank document in near disbelief as what I wish to communicate searches for the words on which to ride. Allow me to describe to you the situation where I live, in Galati, Romania.
Galati is not a pretty town, the skyline composed of stark, greyscale Soviet-era architecture and sprawling industrial complexes. Galati is in one of the poorest regions of Romania and attracts very little tourism, especially intercontinentally. Faced with very few prospects, many Romanians, especially young adults, left the country to seek work and education abroad in central and western Europe. Many found themselves in Italy and Spain, within which the situation over the previous three weeks has deteriorated to point of nationwide quarantines and governments declaring states of emergencies. As the crisis began to unfold, hundreds of thousands of expatriate Romanians fled the outbreaks and returned home out of fear or to be with loved ones. Many resorted to desperate and irresponsible means to return, crossing borders illegally, deceiving customs officers regarding from where they had travelled and flaunting quarantine. You can imagine the recipe for disaster brewing.
We are all familiar with doomsday thriller movies so popular in the 21st century, whatever the threat to civilisation: a natural disaster, an alien invasion or even zombies, the precursory scenes are the same; panic begins, any sense of community dissolves and people resort to desperate measures to survive. The current situation in which Europe finds itself was almost unthinkable three months ago, now things are eerily unfolding like the opening of the disaster movies that entertained us when such scenarios felt purely the stuff of fantasy.
To this date, March 19th, figures from the Romanian government say approximately 15,000 people are currently in quarantine, whilst the number having entered the country is much closer to 1,000,000. Romania is a small nation, and even if only a fraction of those returning home are ill, the disease could proliferate through Galati and the entire country in a matter of days. On Monday, the President of Romania declared a national emergency, meaning finally measures were taken to limit travel and human contact. All the coronavirus cases reported nationally are from people returning from abroad and their immediate social circle.
I do not worry for myself, I followed sound advice from credible sources early and took appropriate measures without succumbing to hysteria. I wash and disinfect my hands regularly and immediately whenever I return home. I disinfect the door and any points of mutual contact with cleaning agents containing bleach, alcohol or concentrated biocidal chemicals. I take my clothing off when I come home wash them immediately. I try to avoid touching my face, but involuntarily, sometimes I do like us all. I tried to do basic shopping, but I failed as the stores were already empty. Like I said, I do not worry for myself, I am healthy, determined and physically able though I worry for my elderly mother. I adhere to these strict routines to protect her and others most at risk. We can no longer think only of ourselves.
Whilst the coronavirus is a human problem, what gives me sleepless nights is how it’ll effect our dogs. The very real problem we already face is that European countries, one by one, are closing borders to people and goods. ROLDA imports our dog food from Spain (we carefully chose a partner that delivers high-nutrient, good quality food which our dogs are happy to eat) We had a provision for two weeks which will end fast. With Europe in lockdown, I don't know what our dogs will eat.
ROLDA needs the generosity and compassion of people like you, once again, to quickly stockpile food (whatever the quality, so long as safely edible) to help us deal with this desperately bleak situation, with no end in sight to this crisis in the near future. Likewise, we urgently need to stockpile emergency veterinary medicines and medical equipment.
Please make a gift now to support ROLDA COVID-19 Solidarity Fund.
We have suspended our sterilisation programme indefinitely to conserve what little supplies we already have in reserve - but we urgently need basic medical supplies: sterilising agents, antibiotics, gloves, bandages, topical disinfectants, gauze, burn kits… the list is unfortunately almost endless. Local prices have exploded – the cost of a pair of basic latex examination gloves have inflated in price by 5000%. We desperately need to assemble a reserve of food and essential medicines, rapidly. All these costs fall outside of our already humble monthly budget and funding must be found from elsewhere.
ROLDA does not have the income of large charities. We do not have millions to spend on CEO salaries and advertising.
ROLDA is on the frontline of animal care and rescue, we exist only for the welfare of the animals in our care and beyond, present and future. In this dark hour, I am humbled and saddened to make this request, as we all must do what is best for our families. However, the hundreds of dogs in our shelters are my family, I have hundreds of hungry souls that I love like children and I find myself staring into the grim uncertainty of what this crisis will mean for them. If there’s anything you and your family could spare, no matter how small, it would help allow me to take care of mine.
Your donation will help us stockpile vital food and medicines for the difficult weeks and months to come. We must act quickly, as if we don’t – even if we have the money – we’ll have nowhere to purchase the goods our dogs so desperately need.
Thank you from the very bottom of my heart for reading this message – for understanding, for contributing whatever you could spare to keep hundreds of #roldadogs safe during what could be the greatest crisis in a generation. The world’s governments, health officials, clinicians, police forces and militaries are all mobilising to safeguard human life; who will be there for our dogs? ROLDA will, though we need your help to ensure we can.
I hope as much as anything that you, your family and pets stay safe and healthy. Please follow advice only from official and reputable sources; misinformation, speculation and panic will only serve to make a dire situation that much worse.Keep clean hands, clear minds and do not give up hope.
With respect and as much hope as I can cling on...
Dana and ROLDA Rescue Team from Romania