A short time ago I had the opportunity of volunteering at the Care2Travel organization (www.care2travel.org) in the project of Animal Care, during that time I was working closely with a local animal shelter called Pro Animalia Shelter in aiding puppies to be put up for adoption. The shelter helps care for dogs, young and old, and tries to ensure that they reach good homes for a better life through adoption centers primarily in Germany to ensure that they get the best chance had to have a loving home, raising awareness to the current stray dog problem that plagues Romania.
My volunteer program with Care2Travel was located in Miercurea Ciuc and just a forty minute walk from the town, although in harsh weather conditions the volunteer coordinators always offered to drive me down to the placement. My goal was to try and gain the trust of the puppies and dogs who often didn’t use to human contact and try to get them ready for a life with a loving family. Each day I had three kennels to spend time at, it is recommended that volunteers spend a minimum of fifteen minutes at each kennel, although I found myself staying there for at least thirty to forty-five minutes. As often the staff and workers are busy with their own jobs of upkeep and maintaining the grounds I went about doing my job without bothering them and at the end always tried to ask around to see if there was any help I could do before returning back to my accommodation.
The shelter had a bathroom for use and a room where volunteers could warm up during the colder months or sit down for a break with a tea or coffee. Typically I would arrive at 10:00a.m in the morning, on the first day I was given a brief introduction and orientation to the grounds and was shown which kennels I could enter and which I could not.
Although I was the only volunteer working at the shelter and therefore didn’t spend much time interacting with other people while I was there, I never felt out of place or lost. I spent three hours each day in the company of dogs, which was some of the best time I spent on the trip! It definitely didn’t feel like I was doing a lot in the beginning, I mean what kind of work involves playing with puppies for three hours a day? But then I realized something, the shy puppies when I started working there who originally wouldn’t let me pat them, let alone go near them soon were sitting by me and wanted attention.
It was eye-opening to realize that without my presence there, it was a real possibility that these puppies, who were shy and afraid of humans, would grow up without a family and stay at the shelter until they were old and unable to be adopted out. It’s impossible to ask that the people who work there day after day give this much time to the dogs, though they always tried to find time in their day to play with them, so volunteers become invaluable.
This photo was taken from the volunteer accommodation and shows a shot from inside the girls house to the outside where right across you can see the boys volunteer house.
Housing was provided by the team for up to 15 volunteers for girls and 7 for boys.. Heating was throughout the house and a thermostat is in the house to make sure it is always warm. Our accommodation manager would do shopping every Tuesday and Friday and would generally get whatever we wrote down on a list (besides a few items that were expensive due to being out of season) and if anything went wrong in the house that needed repairs he would sort it out. At the end of every week, we would have accommodations meetings to voice any concerns or issues but generally, we just talked with each other.
In fact, our coordinators organized two English Clubs that both volunteers and locals were welcomed to come to during the week, we would discuss a range of topics and see lectures from people, during my stay we saw a lecture by Philip G. Zimbardo, which was paid for by the volunteer coordinator. They are now trying to expand the ethical tourism sector of their organization and provide job opportunities for locals by allowing them to conduct tours and show their culture at the same time. I paid for my volunteer program, for the two weeks I stayed I paid $520 USD.
If you are looking to volunteer and help out, I’d definitely recommend you volunteer with Care2Travel and their program for Animal Care and hope to one day myself return to Romania and go back to the shelter again.
By: Amy Roberts