Despite the mission of Save the Dogs in Romania being aimed mainly at dogs, we cannot ignore the suffering of other species of animals that surround us. Horses and donkeys, in particular, are widely used as animals for work, yet live in terrible conditions. STD intends to denounce not only through this website but also through future campaigns. Here is the situation of donkeys and horses in Romania.
Donkeys are still used in the poorer farming areas.’ These magnificent animals are used to transport agricultural goods as well as carry people in isolated villages. Since most of the owners are poor, the donkeys are never wormed nor given the proper attention to their hooves, which is fundamental in order to prevent problems to their legs. Often following a health problem or being for some reason less efficient, the donkeys are resold to avoid medical costs. The most shocking, however, is the fact that at the end of their career these animals are bought by Italian dealers (well established in Romania) who then send them to our country to be processed in salami, mortadelle and ravioli filling. We have seen trucks leave here many times full with pleading eyes, stationed on the border between Romania and Hungary waiting to reach Italy. With few tens of euro the donkeys are sold by farmers that they want rid of. After 14 days at one of the “approved centres” (almost all managed by Italians), the donkeys leave for their last trip. The donkeys that meet this end each year are thousands. And the only ones to thank are us Italians, consumers of donkey meat.
In November 2007, STD formed a partnership with the Donkey Sanctuary, an English foundation who, since 1969, aid donkeys throughout the world. Check out the Romanian project visiting the section Donkeys.
The use of horses for work is much higher in number than for donkeys in Romania. Despite the economic boom of recent years and the increase of car ownership, horse-driven carrriages still remain to be the favoured means of transport in provincial areas. We need, however, to make a distinction between farmers’ horses, usually well maintained, and those owned by the travellers and gypsies. These always certain have common characteristics: undernourished, exploited, burns to treat inflamed tendons, full of cuts and bruises.
To end their career, the horses have two options: either to be slaughtered in an official Romanian abbattoir or secretly slaughtered (no data is available but the phenomenon is massive) or they are sent in Italy to end up on our plates. Not many people know that 89% of the horses traded in Europe are destined for Italy (source World Horse Welfare). From Spain alone every year, 10,500 horses are imported to satisfy the demand of horsemeat. Figures for Romania are unavailable but they are certainly important numbers. Horse Welfare recently began an education program for the owners of horses in Romania (for more information, visit the site http://www.worldhorsewelfare.org/) and is promoting awareness meetings with veterinary authorities.
Pigs, cows and sheep have on average a better life in Rumania than their European cousins, at least those bred in the country. The main advantage is the space, which is usually lacking in intensive farming in the EU. Chickens too, if we exclude the terrible conditions of battery hens, generally enjoy an acceptable existence when they are bred by people in the country. This does not change the fact that slaughtering’ the animals, in the country, is carried out’ using the same methods as decades ago in Italy, that is, by cutting the animal’s throat, without a vet present and without any preliminary stunning.
STD has adopted Raissa and Gorby, a pig and a goat destined for slaughter, which the team from Medgidia fell in love with. This is a purely symbolic action, with no significant impact whatsoever on these categories of animals in Rumania, but which aims to demonstrate our attention and dedication to those animals normally only considered food for humans.
Raissa sleeping happily in her Medgidia fence. She should have been slaughtered last December 2006 but the STD local staff rescued her and took care of her.