Last week, the world was a bit more humane, more sane. Last week, Teodora Ristea was getting up every day to feed, clean, and tend to the hundreds of street dogs in her care. In 2005, at 60 years old, Teodora found her mission: saving stray dogs in her town of Slatina, Romania from slaughter and torture.
Teodora didn't have pink ribbons for her cause... or a slogan. She didn't have a board of directors, she didn't worry about the politics of those she helped, and the money she collected went directly to the dogs.............
Last week, she was caring for upwards of 500 dogs at Prietenii Nostri, a daunting venture in a country where many of its human inhabitants face hard times and have scarce resources.
I imagine there is little left, in most people there, to worry or have empathy for the even harder life of millions of street dogs.
Seven days ago, Teodora woke up and, as she did most every day since opening the shelter, went to care her dogs despite her own ill health.
It was there, among her beloved friends, her dogs, that she collapsed. She was taken to a hospital in Budapest, where she lay in a coma.
This morning, I received an e-mail from her daughter, Gratiela, to let me know that Teodora has died:
She has died pfiore...
Im so down...
Teodora had me when she was almost 40 yrs old and she gone so fast and let me to fight alone...
she is teodora, she is my mother, she is the soul and the heart of the shelter....She was every single day there, her body was exausted of too much work and stress. The attacked happened when she just arrived from the shelter...
The dogs are ok, very cold and lot of snow...
Some money have been raised with your help, i think somewhere about 500 euros.
The dog with 2 legs had 2 surgeries and will be adopted this month... I had also an update to send you but was not ready...
Thanks so much for all
Lot of love for you and bobby (my romanian dog) and thanks for all
Teodora is gone, but she is not an unsung hero. There are many humans and hounds who have benefited from her love, her belief in us to be better, to find better lives. She has graced this world with her strength and her determination, and on her behalf, I will continue to do what I can to help Teodora's 400 cold dogs...
This link brings you to Prietenii Nostri and ways to help Teodora's dogs.
cross posted at writing in the rAw
60 YEARS TO FIND MY LIFE’S AIM
This link brings you to Prietenii Nostri and ways to help Teodora's dogs.
by Teodora Ristea
The shelter... on a typical day
I used to be a normal person , with my very normal life, with the routine of every day, with my work, my husband, my 3 children, my friends. For more than 50 years all this regular passing of time was my life.
I couldn’t imagine a different one: after I had finished my school I became a teacher , I found the man of my life and I had 3 babies. All my dreams seemed to come true. Also now I’m not a special person, always a normal one. But it is a day or a week or a year- I can’t say exactly- that changed me forever.
My ,,little happiness ’ from the past became now a great one. I’m living now not only for me and my lovely ones but the,, egoistic’’ love from my life before 50 years was placed by an universal one. I needed more than a half life to find this.
My name is Teodora and now at my old age I ‘m not only the mother of my 3 girls, but my family became bigger: I have also another 500…dogs.
It is well known the tragic story of the stray dogs in Romania. After the Revolution from ’89, the number of the stray dogs increased everyday . From some dogs abandoned on the street, sometimes brought from the rural zones, not neutered , in a few years became in the Romanian cities really packs of dogs without an owner.
The authorities ignored this problem- at the beginning, after 50 years of communism, also the people not only the animals hadn’t any right- and the number of the abandoned dogs rose so much till became incontrollable. From 10-15 initial to hundred and thousand. In 20 years, millions. Because of the indifference, ignorance and wrong mentality of the authorities. An unsolved problem creates also a negative attitude of the persons.
If the authorities don’t protect them, the people start to protect themselves. And in this way, our best friends forever, the four paws, became in the eyes of the Romanians them worst enemies. Also the bad economical situation, the fear for the future, the unrealized hopes and the chaos of the transition had a negative influence for the rapport between humans and animals, nature in general. Because, when you don’t have the mental tranquillity is difficult to think also at the animals rights.
I have always had a dog. In my childhood, my parents, my grandparents, all the village used to have an unspoken friend : with two eyes, two ears, a big tail and four paws, but more than that, with an huge loyalty and love. One like no other. Sometimes, better than humans friends. Never unfaithful, always ready to defend you. A great companion! I remember in this way my friends with four legs and a lot of coat from my baby past. Big eyes and a lick every time when I brought them the food or I walked together.
As adult, instead, my life had a bad surprise for me. This well-known reality, very fond of my heart, changed into an horrible one. I started to see on the city streets tortured dogs, beaten till death, caught with extreme violence…All in the name of the resolving the stray dogs situation. In vain the international associations for the animals protection had protested. In vain the protests of the few Romanian animals lovers. All in vain…The authorities, after years and years of ignoring this problem, have found the solution: the massive extermination. The death se ntence for millions of our best friends.
And the infernal howls of the tortured dogs, the inevitable them death, the hate for these innocent hearts. All their fault was their life. We, the human beings, the superior being, no responsibility, no remorse, no guilt.
And now starts my fight. First only interior. Then the decision to save more possible friends that I can. Without money, without an help but with a great desire to make something, to stop this cruelty. I made an association for the animals protection with another 6 dogs lovers, named ,,Prietenii Nostri’’- Our Friends in English-and together we went to the Mayor. We asked him to give us the killing pound from Slatina in order to take care about the stray dogs and stop the killings. After months and months of negotiations, in May of 2006 we obtained the ground. It was the biggest victory from of my life!
But the difficult part was just beginning. They gave us the communal shelter in a deplorable stage. Only 6 pairs of scared glances were still alive. All feared to death for all that had seen. The material part was almost zero. There were five miles of land, but not a kennel, not a box, not a fence, not even a tree to shadow a little from the hot sun in summer or to protect from the rain, wind or snow in the winter. Nothing…only inside of a little building 20 iron cages, not larger=2 0than 1m.
These were for some days or weeks the ,,houses’’ of the stray dogs before the final moment: the death. A terrific imagine of a cruel realty: the place where they were thrown, kept without food or water, with their own dirt, seeing how the others were killed. Thinking only at this past was so difficult to stay there! But therefore we were in that place! To change it, to make a home for the stray dogs and don’t let that infernal situation to go on. A lot of courage and determination, a few money and persons.
First we started to care about the 12 dogs still alive. We couldn’t afford expensive medical treatments, but we paid a vet to heal the important illness : Biconeta, one of the 12 dogs had an pneumonia, Lupa an ocular infection and all were thin and dehydrated. After took care of them, we organized a real campaign in order to find the necessary things for the shelter. We made a contract with the Aluminium Factory for the food left over from the canteen. We found some construction company- which gave us material for the kennels and fences. We started also a school campaign in order to make more aware the children and we gave often news about our work on the local mass media.
We asked help at the international associations, explained our situation and the precedent one. We have only some answer but nothing concrete. Meanwhile we received every day 2,3,5,10 dogs. The number increas ed each week. From 12 initially till 300 at the end of the year. And also the responsibilities. A lot of problems: in summer many dogs had skin diseases ( mange and ticks), in the winter not all of them had a warm place and enough food. One year later we had more than 500 dogs but the conditions were dramatics. Our courage and trust in future were slowly going down.
Our love and affections for the dogs were not enough to food them or to assure them a properly life. Sometimes, we were discouraged and thought that maybe was better to give up. Our powerlessness was immense. But if you believe in something …and here begins our fortune.
Our battle is still difficult , with the authorities, with the wrong mentality, with the lack of the money , but now we, The Association ,, Prietenii Nostri’’-,,Our Friends’’, have found our….life’s aim. It’s never to late…even if you are already 60 ...