Two years ago our association – in partnership with Foundation Paideia, Foundation EST and Friends of Homeless Dogs - launched the first riding therapy project for Romanian targetting children with special needs.Almost every day  18 orphans from the Don Orione Center in Bucharest, together with about 40 children suffering from autism, interact with the 4 donkeys, receiving not only physical but also emotional benefits. These benefits were highly considerable amongst the children suffering from autism, as they reacted very well to the contact with the adorable donkeys.

Even though the Foundation Paideia will stop financing the program this May, it will continue by being financially sustained by our Finnish partner and by STD. These funds will cover the medical charges for the animals, while the funds from Don Orione will go to the staff expenses.

Seeing the effective results of the pilot project, STD will try to obtain financial support from private sponsors like companies or bank foundations in order to launch a similar program in Cernavoda. We have already found the necessary space at the Footprints of Joy centre and we have established contact with a group of parents whose children are suffering from autism. We hope to obtain the funds we need for this project, as our goal is to launch it by 2014.

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A year ago Save the Dogs started in Bucarest a new project, donkey assisted therapy for disabled orphan children of the Don Orione Centre.

Thanks to the financial help of Fondazione Paideia Torino, 18 children staying at the centre and autistic children from the Voluntari centre near Bucarest, have enjoyed the company of some special friends: Claudiu, Sile, Boss and Ioan the donkeys of Save the Dogs that for the past year have been walking with young people during sunny days and enjoyed strokes from children as well as older people.

In the picture you can see two young guests with Sile: after an initial nervous approach, the girls pat the donkey leaving their fears behind, they are helped by the therapist to ride him for 15/20 minutes inside the courtyard.

Almost all the children are happy about the donkey assisted therapy, even the ones that were initially scared. Some of them – after few attempts – have learnt to use a correct posture sitting on the saddle with huge benefit to their skeletal and muscular system.

This project will end next May 2013.

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The opening of It’s Donkey time was full of emotion last Thursday at the Don Orione Centre of Bucharest.
We have before us many images of a day transformed into a celebration: many guests, many Italian and Romanian journalists, our four donkeys and naturally, the elderly and children from the center, who were the real actors of the event. The first Donkey Therapy program of Romania is dedicated to them, a project created by STD and thanks to funding by the Paideia Foundation.

We will never forget the joy and enthusiasm of children like Alex when they met their new four-legged friends. Only two months ago, Alex lost his mother and has now found reason to smile. Then there is Anca, three and a half years old who suffers from Downs Syndrome who spent the first 12 months of her life in the alleys of Bucharest. On Facebook you can view the most beautiful photos taken on the day.

And what about our friends with tails? They behaved very well despite the noise and confusion. They were not at all troubled by the commotion and camera clicks. They seemed to appreciate all the attention not only from the little ones but also the older guests of the center. Claudio, Ioan, Sile and Boss, saved from the streets from abuse and abandonment now have a new home and new friends with which to share a life of mutual respect and care.

STD would like to say thank for their presence and words of appreciation, the Italian Ambassador in Romania, Mario Cospito, the President of the National Animal Protection Board, Carla Rocchi and the representatives of the associations involved in the project, amongst others, the Elizabeth Svendson Trust and Friends of Homeless Dogs.

A special thanks to Don Graziano and Don Roberto with their long-range perspective and lack of prejudice have allowed us to participate in a project which is the achievement of a dream where human and animal life has dignity and is valued.

Watch the coverage that Romanian TV dedicated to this day:

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