Catherine Baroun – Rolda Volunteer report
ROLDA VOLUNTEER FOLLOW UP REPORT
This report prepared by Catherine Baroun (volunteered 17-27 Sep) covers the welfare of the dogs; the scope and limitations for developing the volunteer programme; and fund-raising. Most of the observations will relate to the small shelter as I only had one brief visit to the big shelter as Dana was on holiday during while I was there.
Although there are funds and plan in place to build a cat shelter, the dog shelters are not fit-for-purpose and getting these up to acceptable standards should be the priority. I am also vey concerned that so much time and efforts are being applied to longer term wish lists without dealing with some really serious issues and routines on the day to day operation of the shelters and general welfare of the dogs. Dana mentioned that she doesn’t have permission to keep so many dogs at the small shelter so why are there plans to knock down and rebuild – is permission in place to do this?
The current model/policy of the shelters is not sustainable. E.g. If 500 dogs can be accommodated and rehoming is running at 10% versus the local dog population increasing without an aggressive neutering programme. Essentially you have a finite number of places for dogs with an infinite growing dog population. The work of Rolda in Galati can not focus on removing and imprisoning dogs captured from Mittal Steel.
PRINCIPLES OF ANIMAL WELFARE
The information below is extracted from the British Veterinary Association (BVA) website: www.bva.co.uk. Animal welfare (how an animal feels) is influenced by the factors included in the “Five Freedoms”, which are as follows:
1. Freedom from hunger and thirst
2. Freedom from discomfort
3. Freedom from pain, injury and disease
4. Freedom to express normal behaviour
5. Freedom from fear and distress
The Five Freedoms provide a valuable and comprehensive framework for assessing welfare, and help ensure that certain welfare determinants (e.g. alleviating pain) are not considered at the exclusion of other key determinants (e.g. providing a suitable environment that allows for expression of normal behaviour). The framework is extremely useful in structuring an approach to animal welfare work abroad (and in the UK), and is adopted by most of the animal welfare charities that have an overseas remit. Although it’s not realistic to expect all of the Five Freedoms to be achieved all of the time, but this should be for practical reasons (e.g. economic, cultural), and not because you hadn’t considered the Five Freedoms, and therefore all of the ways in which welfare can be affected.
APPLICATION OF THE 5 FREEDOMS AT THE TWO SHELTERS During my time at the small shelter and limited time at the big helter I only saw evidence of Freedom 1 and Freedom 3 implemented as standard (with some caveats). Freedoms 2, 4 and 5 are not being addressed consistently to even a basic standard and Freedom 4 is on the whole disregarded due to lack of exercise, socialisation and feeding routines and practices. Examples are cited below to illustrate that the shelters do not follow the above framework.
The dogs at the big shelter and the small shelter are not getting enough exercise – I would even go as far to allege that some dogs are not being exercised at all. Dogs need exercise, contact and socialisation, challenge and stimulation. Being locked up 24/7 even though they may be getting regular food and water is imprisonment for the dogs – it is not sanctuary. Although I was told that the men at the big shelter currently exercise the dogs, I could see no evidence to support this. Only one dog was out of kennels (Blackie), who is scheduled for rehoming. The other dogs in kennels displayed behaviours that suggest they are distressed and are not getting exercise or enough human contact.
- Define 2-3 dedicated exercise/socialisation areas within big shelter
- There should be 2 dedicated full-time workers at the big shelter solely responsible for exercise, observation and socialisation of the dogs (this may require hiring new staff and/or reassigning duties of existing staff at big shelter
- Prioritise sectioning third exercise area in small shelter
- Part time additional help at the small shelter to exercise, socialise, observe dogs, keep accurate reports and administer medicines
CLEANING OF KENNELS
I was unable to observe cleaning routine at the big shelter but the kennels are notably Spartan and are not suited to long-term care of such a high volume dogs. Lack of bedding and toys, dirty water and food bowls and in some cases too many dogs – this should be reviewed so that conditions meet the 5 freedoms.
At the small shelter there is little attention paid to keeping the kennels clean throughout. Although the kennels are cleaned out daily, the doors and grates are not been cleaned regularly (should be scrubbed with hand scrubbing brush) and there is dried on faeces in many areas. Only floors seem to get attention.
Food bowls and water bowls also need to be rinsed – when I arrived at the shelter dogs did not have food bowls and dry food was being fed to dogs on the kennel floors with urine and faeces on the floor. The kennel pathway tiles are very slippery – especially when wet. Non-slip mats should form a pathway throughout to prevent slips (see dangers). One serious issue that was addressed as a matter of urgency while I was there was that five litre bottles of bleach that are used to clean the kennels were left with no caps in the kennels. Not only is it hazardous in terms of spills and the risk of ingestion and poisoning of the dogs. The other danger is that with evaporation of the bleach in an enclosed space mixing with the ammonia from urine in kennels – this is a health hazard and a fire hazard. Dana even commented that some dogs coughed a lot when they were inside and then fine outside. This was definitely NOT kennel cough as no other symptoms of kennel cough presented.
I was unable to observe cleaning routine at the big shelter. However, I was very concerned that the in the small kennel food was just thrown into the kennels amongst faeces and urine with the dogs getting highly agitated. After a few days I requested that the routine be changed so that dogs were fed late afternoon when they returned to clean kennels (having been out side for sufficient exercise) and that food should be in bowls. Where there are two or more dogs each should have a bowl to prevent fighting.
Dogs are clean animals. It is highly stressful for them to eat/sleep in the same areas where they defecate. Therefore, by feeding later in the today in a clean kennel should help to reduce stress. Also the dogs will have ‘earned’ their food after exercise. One of the main benefits or a dry food diet in dogs is regular stools. Some of the dogs were consistently passing runny stools in the kennel which would indicate the food was not suited to them (could be stress or digestive complaint) – a sensitive stomach dried food should be considered for these dogs. Any other dogs passing stools that differ from norm (runny or dihorrieas) should be observed carefully. This might me an early warning sign of illness or stress and if left untreated could culminate in dehydration and/or malnutrition; these should be applied to the big shelter too.
Fresh clean drinking water should be available to all dogs at all times. In he exercise paddocks there should be multiple bowls. Bowls should be kept clean. On hot days water bowls should not be kept in the sunniest spots as water will evaporate very quickly. Water should not be allowed to stagnate in any areas as it could make the dogs sick and stagnant waster also is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Ideally there should be kept in areas where they are unlikely to be tipped over.
The dry dog food given as part of daily diet can also be used to reward good behaviours. They should not be give when dogs jump and should always be distributed fairly. Do not throw down as it may cause fights. Do not give any other treats as they may cause tummy disruption which can culminate in soft stools/diarrhoeas in the kennels and grounds.
OBSERVATION OF DOGS
Dogs should always be observed for signs of stress and illness. I mentioned that this dogs face (no name according to Flori) has a severe irritation but the dog got no treatment while I was there even through three other dogs were taken (Chela & Skipper for face bite & Caramel injured foot pad). When the dog wouldn’t come to me in the paddock and was keeping away from other dogs and not playing I brought her in to clean up myself. I bathed her face with salt water and applied some antiseptic balm). Her skin was crusted and wounds full of dust. It looks like she got this from rubbing door in kennel and then it got infected – she did not wince or retract when I treated her. She was calm and relaxed.
All staff and volunteers should have a basic understanding of first aid care for the dogs and humans. I have created two first aid boxes with some basics that can be used in the cottage or brought outside to injury site if needed in an emergency. Anything used should be replenished as soon as possible after the incident. Any out of date contents should be disposed of and replaced as required. I am sending you a separate page re basic dog first aid
Although there were enough dog beds not all dogs had beds in the kennels – these ones were left outside and had stagnant water in them next to the puppy cage – not ideal due to mosquitoes breeding/biting
All dogs kept solitary in kennel should have a toy in the kennel with them for activity/stimulus. Not advisable when there are multiple dogs to prevent fighting.
All dogs need to be groomed in rotation (not just the ones scheduled for rehoming). This is useful as it gives the opportunity to feel for any lumps/bumps, give personalised attention and is also part of socialization activities.
There is no consistency as to which dogs wear collars. For the ones that do, it’s important that they are the right size and fitted correctly. Too lose – the dog can get caught on something and choke – too tight and if can cause breathing/choking problems. E.g. one of the dogs that wore a collar had been in for a while and had obviously gained weight – its barking was raspy and this corrected itself once I had loosened the collar. I explained to Flori that you should be able that fingers thickness between dog and collar is a guide to fit. Mari’s collar is too big and got caught on a nail going form exercise area to kennels and was pulling to get away when he was caught.
- Doors in the small kennel are rusted, splintered and have sharp metal exposed wire fencing and rusty nails sticking out – nails need be flush to wood and wires rounded closed with pliers. And splintered wood should be sanded down and all sharp edges rounded. One of the dogs had a bleeding pad from a nail in the kennel and many of them have cuts around mouths from knowing at wood to get out
- Broken fencing wire in paddock – one small dog keeps squeezing through to escape – its needs to be bigger to let him out or closed completely – he was stuck when I was there
- Wires and cord lying around are a choking hazards for puppies
- Garden debris: throughout the garden there are rusty pipes, rusty nails chemicals (plastic bucket with meths/sugar soap and paint brushes, egg), broken glass, rusty nails
- Climbing plants – there is a specific climbing plant in the small shelter growing profusely – this is fine on areas where it can grow upwards but on flat ground it is a choking hazard – one of the puppies got tangled up sand couldn’t get free. While I was there I bought some pruners and cleared up the vines
- Stagnant water – mosquitoes lay eggs
- Other dogs – there was definite signs of aggression between skipper and the vets German shepherd – the growling stressed the other dogs and meant there was alot baking. Flori would alternate leaving either dog out in main area. It was also irresponsible to put them in kennels next door to each other so there was constant barking and aggressions – I suggested she have another kennel in between them to split up and this resolved the barking in kennels (the German shepherd went at end of first week)
- Kennel and play area bolts/locks are rusted and these need to be opened/closed securely – I bought WD40 to smooth operation of them – they should be sprayed periodically
- Faeces in the play paddocks need to be removed daily – I was told this was always done but in all kennels I saw faeces that had started to get ‘furry’ which would indicate that it had been there for at least a week.
- Also the grounds need to be cleaned of faeces too – I bought a special type of rake for this which made it easier to remove from areas with ground weeds
- The water well was completely open – not safe for the puppies who would go to the edge out of curiosity – when I highlighted this Flori she put on the planks of wood
While I was there I cleaned up the medicine cabinet – a lot of items were out of date. Also I am concerned that I saw incomplete courses of antibiotics, razor blades, a bottle of isopropyl alcohol, which is highly flammable and toxic if ingested, left out with no cap. Worming tablets had been removed from their sterile strip packaging and thrown loose into an empty carton – it was not known how long they had been there. The rationale for this was given as ‘time saving’. This is bad practice and medicines may no longer be effective. Additionally unused portion of Advantix were left out with caps – this flea treatment is highly toxic if it comes into contact with human food. If a vial is to be split, ideally two dogs should be treated at the same time. If this is not possible, the unused portion should have the cap replaced and then placed in a zip lock bag marked with the used by date (one opened the unused portion should be used within one month. It finances permit, it would be more efficient to use Advocate – it is applied in the same way as Advantix but it is all in one (fleas and worms).
RECORD KEEPING ON DOGS
I saw no evidence to suggest that accurate records were kept on the dogs – there were discrepancies on names too. Weights were estimated and were completely out of the ball park – e.g. there was a dog that weighed a max of 20 kilos – he was estimated at 35 kilos by Flori. Also heights were measured using a metal builder’s measure. Dogs need to be weighed on a proper scale to monitor their progress and I left a more suitable tape measure to measure height and girth of dogs. Additionally, if flea and worm treatments are being given based on estimated weights it is likely the dogs are not getting the right doses of medicines.
Most of the dogs in the small kennel were male. Flori was not able to confirm how many of the dogs were neutered. In addition to preventing litters, neutering has additional benefits in bitches (prevents certain cancers) and in males makes them less aggressive. Are you able to confirm that all the dogs in the small shelter (excluding puppies are neutered). Also how many strays are being neutered per week. On the website it quotes the YTD figure 2010 is 919 (we are at week 40 so that averages at 22 per week – how many are shelter dogs and how many are for the dogs local people as part of neutering projects? Are all dogs being rehomed neutered before they leave the shelters?
DOG FOOD STORAGE
Dog food needs to stored in a clean dry place. Once the packs are opened they should be stored in plastic bins with lids to prevent vermin, dust, cats, flies etc.
The house and shelters are made of wood and there are a number of highly flammable products around. It would be prudent not to permit smoking in the house. If smoking is going to be allowed it should be in the concrete porched area in front of the house and cigarettes should be extinguished in a bucket filled with sand. While I was there I saw one of the workers from the big shelter that came to do some maintenance light a cigarette and throw match into garden near bins. This is a major fire risk.
HANDWASHING & HYGENE
- Handwash/soap in bathroom and kitchen should be antibacterial
- Antibacterial gel should also be carried by all staff to wash hands in ‘the field’
- Dog meat used for giving dogs medicine – what is use by shelf life? It should
- be covered in the fridge or stored in a zip lock bag
- Dog medicines should not be stored with human food/medicines and vice versa
- Fly papers need to be used in the cottage
- Boots/footwear used in kennels and compound should not be worn or brought into the house – essentially faeces are being walked into the kitchen and bathroom and pose a health risk
GETTING MORE VOLUNTEERS
There are many organisations – not for profit and profit based travel companies that pay the charity a significant amount of money – that can provide volunteers. However, before you can even get to that stage many of the points I have raised will need to be addressed. In order to be featured in gap year projects, etc, it is likely that you will have to undergo a risk assessment and at this time, you would not fulfil minimum health and safety requirements for the volunteers. Additionally, you not have a specific range of task that volunteers will need to do. I am going to write a separate report on guidelines for volunteers for both short and long term.