Save Our Paws is an animal shelter that’s making a real difference in the lives of our furry friends. In this inspiring interview with dr. Emma Stratulat, founder of Save Our Paws, we’ll discover the challenges and triumphs of this remarkable organization.
In a world where animal abandonment and neglect sadly remain prevalent issues, Save Our Paws stands as a beacon of hope. They remind us that every animal deserves a loving home and a chance at a happy life. The importance of adopting rather than buying a pet cannot be overstated, and this interview will underline that message.
Join us on this journey as we celebrate the tireless efforts of Save Our Paws and the countless animals whose lives have been transformed through their unwavering dedication. We all have a role to play in ensuring the well-being of our four-legged companions. Together we can create a world where every pet is cherished, loved, and given the chance to thrive.
What inspired you to start Save Our Paws and dedicate your efforts to helping animals in need?
Emma Stratulat: First and foremost, it’s the boundless love I have for animals. Secondly, it’s the strong desire to change the lives of animals, how they’re perceived in society, and especially how they’re treated. We live in an uneducated society that often treats animals worse than trash.
Could you share some of the challenges you faced while establishing the animal shelter Save Our Paws in Iași, Romania?
Emma Stratulat: There were so many challenges. I’ll try to summarize. We started by finding land, which had to be at least 100 meters away from the nearest house. It was incredibly difficult to find a location because none of them had access to utilities. For this reason, we had to settle for buying a plot of land in an open field. We encountered many difficulties, including finding a construction company that would work at a reasonable price (they made many mistakes). But the biggest challenge was the financial aspect because we had to invest our own money.
Then, Romanian bureaucracy forced us to stretch out the construction process longer than we would have liked. After completion, we faced other problems such as a lack of water in the well. As a result, we had to make a drilled well.
But with a lot of hard work, we overcame all obstacles, and the day came when we could move the dogs in.
How does Save Our Paws differentiate itself from other animal welfare organizations in the region?
Emma Stratulat: We differentiate ourselves through our information and sterilization campaigns, the many activities we engage in for self-funding, active involvement in society and the community, assistance to individuals, and collaborations with public shelters, where we support them by taking in both healthy and sick animals.
But most importantly, it’s the quality of care our animals receive in terms of food, medical services, and comfort.
How do you ensure that the Save Our Paws shelter provides a comfortable and welcoming environment for the rescued cats and dogs?
Emma Stratulat: We strive to make their lives as beautiful as possible given our resources. We provide a welcoming environment, attentive staff, and everything they need for a good start in life. For example, they receive health tests, vaccinations, deworming, and sterilization upon entry to the shelter. We focus on meeting their dietary needs. Furthermore, we choose their shelter locations based on their individual characters and other specific needs.
What services do you offer to abandoned animals once they are rescued and under your care?
Emma Stratulat: For the sick or injured, we also provide immediate first aid. Depending on the problem, we provide specialized tests and surgeries performed by specialists as well. Other aspects are covered in the previous answer.
Tell us about the vision behind the construction of a shelter for 60 cats. Why did you choose to focus on cats in this project?
Emma Stratulat: We built a shelter that houses 100 dogs, and with a high demand for saving cats, we now want to build a shelter for them, that would meet cats’ needs. It’s designed to be a welcoming environment for both the cats and the people who want to spend time with them. That’s why we created special compartments to provide appropriate conditions while allowing them to feel at home.
Unfortunately, Romania faces a real problem with stray animals. Therefore, we want to get actively involved in solving this issue, while providing safety and proper conditions for the animals.
Can you share some heartwarming success stories of animals that have been rescued and adopted into loving homes?
Emma Stratulat: We have hundreds of such stories. Unfortunately, many of them arrive injured, abused, and starving, but they blossom with us.
One of the foundational stories of our association is about a dog that had spent years chained up and left to starve. When we rescued him, he was nothing but skin and bones, with only a few tufts of fur remaining. It turned out that he was a stunning long-haired dog.
Another case is a young puppy that was tied in front of a shed at just three months old. One night, a thief tried to steal from that shed. Because the puppy was barking, the thief grabbed her by the chain, threw her to the ground, breaking her legs. He left the puppy in a pool of blood. However, she fought to survive, and we took her in. Today, she’s happily adopted in France.
There are far too many stories. Many of them are involving animals mutilated by humans (strangled or cut), animals hit by trains, and many injured by cars.
How does the community, local members, and volunteers contribute to the success of Save Our Paws’ initiatives?
Emma Stratulat: They contribute in every possible way, from direct financial assistance through donations to physical work for the benefit of the animals.
Apart from monetary donations, how can people get involved and support your organization’s cause?
Emma Stratulat: People can get involved by donating necessary items for the animals like beds, food, toys, etc. They can also help by sharing our posts on social media and by volunteering in person.
As a veterinarian with specialized experience, what insights can you share about the importance of responsible pet ownership?
Emma Stratulat: It’s crucial for pet owners to provide at least a minimum level of care and attention to their animals. This includes regular vaccinations and deworming, offering higher-quality food, and spending quality time with them. Their time with us is very short, and they leave our lives too quickly. So we should never regret not spending more time with them.
What are the criteria and process for someone interested in adopting a pet from Save Our Paws?
Emma Stratulat: It’s essential that the adopted pet is treated as a family member. Never chained or confined in a pen, but integrated into daily family life. The adopter should provide the necessary daily care and medical attention. They should also have the financial means, and provide a suitable space for the animal’s personality.
Can you share more about the “Adopt-at-Distance” program and how it helps care for animals in need from afar?
Emma Stratulat: Sometimes, we feel financially overwhelmed, and this program allows people to donate and feel like they’re directly helping an animal. We select animals that typically wouldn’t be adopted due to behavioral or other issues and offer them a permanent home with us.
What role does education play in your mission to reduce the number of stray animals through sterilization?
Emma Stratulat: Education plays the most crucial role. We’ve realized that many people mistreat animals simply because they don’t know any better, not because they necessarily want to harm them. Lack of information leads to absurd behavior towards animals. We often encounter the problem that older people are resistant to change, which is why it’s crucial to reach out to the younger generation.
What are some of the most pressing challenges you face in your day-to-day operations of the shelter?
Emma Stratulat: The lack of space is the most pressing challenge. Every day, we receive dozens of requests for help. But we often have to turn them down because we have no space left. The second challenge is financial uncertainty, which causes continuous stress for our staff. Daily challenges related to the care of the animals also affect us deeply, such as the occasional loss of one of them due to old age or a medical issue. Additionally, daily issues with the physical aspects of the shelter, like gates breaking, concrete pieces falling, pump failures, electrical problems, and more, add to our challenges.
How do you handle situations where an animal has unique health or behavioral challenges that require special care and attention?
Emma Stratulat: We treat them according to their needs. If necessary, we keep them separated from the others and provide treatment. For wild animals, we try to keep them close to us so they can learn to interact. And for those who have undergone surgery or are ill, we’re creating a rehabilitation center. Here they can recover in isolation and under supervision.
How do you plan to expand and improve the shelter’s facilities in the future?
Emma Stratulat: We’ll try to improve whenever we have the means. At every stage and location of the shelter, there’s room for improvement. But we can’t plan much right now due to severe financial limitations.
What are your future goals and aspirations for Save Our Paws as an organization?
Emma Stratulat: Our goal is to reach a day when we no longer need to rescue animals or witness any suffering. We aim to grow and fulfill our dream of developing awareness campaigns for children, adults, and public institutions dealing with animal management. We also hope to sterilize so extensively that we never find abandoned, hungry, and suffering puppies again. Our ultimate goal is to ensure our animals lead good lives.
Can you share some heartwarming moments or memories from your journey with Save Our Paws that have left a lasting impact on you?
Emma Stratulat: Absolutely everything—from the association’s logo to every square inch and speck of dust. It’s hard to pick highlights because I love it all, especially every single animal. I know the story of each one.
The moment we opened the doors of the shelter. Every moment when we hold the animals in our arms. Every time our association takes a step forward toward a better world. And every time we save a soul and change their life forever. All of these moments leave a lasting impact.
As an organization committed to animal welfare, what advice would you give to children who want to help animals in their community but may not know where to start?
Emma Stratulat: They should contact nearby NGOs to see how they can get actively involved, even if it’s just through social media and virtual activities.
How can parents and educators encourage children to develop empathy and compassion towards animals and become responsible advocates for their well-being?
Emma Stratulat: First and foremost, expose children to the difficult and sad lives of animals through images. Provide them with informational materials about animal lives and their eventual fate. For older children who can understand, actively involve them in animal volunteering to help them better understand. We’re working on a project with these steps in mind.
What message or advice would you like to share with the public about the importance of supporting and caring for animals in need?
Emma Stratulat: If you don’t do it, who will?
We often think: ‘Someone else will help, someone else will do it.’ But our indifference and apathy have brought us to this point, where millions of souls die in shelters, on the streets, in pits, in forests, etc. You can help and get involved very easily without even lifting a finger—through donations, sharing on social media, reacting, or actively participating.
If you’re tired of all the suffering, you can support an NGO and know that you’re contributing to making the world a better place. As Scouts say, ‘Leave this world a little better than you found it.’
Each of us should think that only together can we change something and maybe one day we won’t have to complain. But if we wait for someone else to act, we have no chance of improving things.
Pet Care and Compassion Quiz for Kids
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