When the Coronavirus pandemic hit and placed the world on pause, here at Street Hearts, we were obviously thinking of those who were affected and those who would be affected. It also left us a little anxious of what the situation might mean for the dogs.
It’s been just over six weeks since we returned from our last adoption trip. Luckily, we made it back home just in time as this was when the restrictions were beginning to be implemented. We were under quarantine for the next two weeks, with regular home checks from the local police (it’s a €5000 fine if you breach the restrictions!).
Our adoption trips generate a large percentage of the shelter income – without transporting the dogs ourselves, it is unlikely that we could sustain our organisation over time. With the world in lockdown and no end date in sight, we were concerned how Covid-19 would affect Street Hearts financially. Being unable to transport, we were without our main source of income with lots of dogs to feed and care for. We were aware that people were out of work or even losing their jobs due to the situation, so we were naturally expecting a drop in donations.
However, this pandemic has had the opposite effect and we have seen an increase in donations over these past six weeks. In fact,there has been more than ever, which has been incredible. It’s almost left Emma speechless, which, if you know her, is nigh on impossible! The response from our supporters has been overwhelming – we feel very fortunate to have such loyal, generous people supporting our work from across the world, especially during these unprecedented times.
At present our vet bills are averaging 1000 leva a week. This is due to the amount of puppies needing vaccinations, microchips, blood tests and a passport. We are also neutering 4-6 dogs a week.
Your generosity is allowing us to continue our work and help more dogs in need. In March and April this year we have taken in 44 new dogs. We now have 98 dogs in our care, 56 of which are puppies. Puppies are hard work and take a lot of resources to ensure they are looked after properly. They need to be cleaned more often than the adults, they have need for their own special food, regular mealtimes, vaccinations and that’s before the training begins! It’s a daunting task to ensure they all have everything they need, so with your donations, it has taken a huge weight off of our shoulders. We are still worrying about financial resources long term but are trying to use our energy in a more constructive manner – like care and training!
We are also receiving help in the form of more volunteers. Aside from Lauren and Dan, we have had three more people who now regularly come to offer their time to help us and the dogs – John, Rob and Lucy.
John and Rob, our latest company sponsors (from Evolution Designs BG) have been coming 3-4 days a week for the past month. John has been working with the dogs; grooming, training, feeding, cleaning, walking, socialising, everything! It’s been a massive help for us and the dogs have benefitted with the extra time, care and attention they are receiving because of John. The dogs love him and he has been doing great work with some scared puppies we have. Rob has been working alongside Anthony with a few building projects here at the shelter that we already had the materials for but didn't have the time to use. There have been numerous things we have wanted to do for a long time, but haven’t had the time or people available to help. Now that Rob is helping, we have finished constructing the perimeter fencing which means that we are now fully escape-proof! The fencing is up for a new play park area and we have one of the new planned sheds for the dogs to sleep in at night.
Lucy is a local whose studies are on hold until the restrictions are lifted. She has been offering her time to come and help with the dogs. Like John, she has been training, walking, cleaning and socialising the dogs and also has been assisting at the vets. Lucy joined us when we were alerted to a puppy in need of help. We drove to the town and before we knew it, Lucy had the puppy in her arms! She is a natural with the dogs and has developed strong bonds with many of them.
It’s a strange thing to say, but whilst Coronavirus has caused its problems, it’s also benefitted us and resulted in more help, both financially and in volunteers. The restrictions have given us the opportunity to work on projects which we just haven’t had the time to do before and also spend that extra bit of time with the dogs.
The biggest impact has been that twenty dogs would have been in their furever homes at the end of April. We have 43 dogs reserved, thats two trips full and the beginnings of a third trip so we have stopped adoption enquiries for now because of the extra workload dealing with applications, subsequent home checks and felt that it was taking us away from caring for the dogs in our shelter. We will obviously continue with enquiries once we know that we can transport again. We also still have the ongoing issue of dogs needing help on the streets. It’s sad to know that new lives are waiting for lots of dogs but as soon as we can we will be driving across Europe to take the lucky dogs to their new families.
Until our state vet says we can move we won’t move, he issues the legal paperwork for us to travel. We absolutely will not risk being sat at borders for hours on end and not being able to walk our dogs on route to the UK.
The story will continue!
Stay safe and well people, it is scary time right now.