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  • Writer's pictureAnimal-Kind International

Sava's Safe Haven, a haven for dogs in Galati, Romania

While Sava's Safe Haven isn't an Animal-Kind International partner organization (which means they don't receive financial support from us), in the AKI Blog, we love to highlight animal rescue/protection/sheltering organizations that do amazing work in difficult environments with little support-like Sava's.

Several things struck me about Sava's Safe Haven, but the main one is that Alexandra Sava seems to focus on the solutions to the problems rather than getting overwhelmed by all the animal welfare problems (and there are many in Romania).

For example (in Alexandra's words)....

Problem: Many of the charities concentrate mostly upon the stray population within the cities however problem may be just as bad in the villages, where people are poor and less likely to be educated. In Romanian villages most of the citizens keep their dogs tethered up on chains without proper food, shelter, and medical care. Most of these animals are not neutered and often escape whilst in season. This consequently results in the birth of unwanted dogs which are abandoned on the streets and further fueling the stray population numbers as they also go on to breed. (This problem is apparent in both rural and urban areas.) The situation regarding cats in Romania is similar to that of dogs with large number currently living on the street. As cats are not considered as problematic as dogs, they do not receive as much publicity. Sometimes people in urban areas contact organizations for support but this is rarely the case regarding older people or those living in rural environments.

Solution: In the years ahead, Sava's Safe Haven would like to continue to work within the local community, helping poor villages and animals living in terrible conditions. We are focusing on villages and communities and people with limited resources and opportunities where there are no veterinary clinics or doctors. We have identified that these people need our support.

Why Sava's Safe Haven? In 2012 the Sava family began to build a safe refuge for animal’s welfare needs in a village called Branistea (30km from Galati City). As the shelter is located between two villages within the Galati District it is possible to communicate with people living in these rural places. The situation in rural environment is terrible and is very sad that there are not many charities that would like to be involved there and support initiative to help animals in this area. I really hope we will be able to help people and their animals in this way.

Problem: During our spay/neuter campaign Sava's Safe Haven faces many problems caused by lack of education regarding animal welfare. Many people brought their animals without realizing what sterilization involved. Most of them came to us to benefit from the facilities offered by the organization such as dog food, flea treatments, and collars. We realize that many people would never contemplate bringing an animal to a vet, until the last moment due to lack of money or lack of veterinary clinics close to them. Many ill animals are left in agony unless they get real help in time, but for the less fortunate animals help never comes or it is simply too late.

(The picture below is a really nice exception to the rule: This boy and his grandfather came to Sava's during the 1st week of March to get help for his puppy, who stopped eating and was lethargic. The puppy had never been vaccinated. Sava's vet vaccinated, gave antibiotics and vitamins, and sent the puppy home with his family-with a good prognosis--and with instructions to return for a follow up check up.)

Boy came with his grandfather to Sava's for vet care for his puppy

Solution: Sava's would like to create a long-term project to educate people about animal welfare issues and to encourage them to bring animals to a vet for veterinary care. We also consider it is very important to encourage people to neuter their dog/cat to prevent unwanted puppies/kittens that inevitably became street animals.

Why Sava's Safe Haven? We have experience and we are located in rural area. Sava's Safe Haven has created various projects for community animals including giving free food to poor families who own dogs, free micro-chipping, free collars and harness. Sava's Safe Haven has also visited villages further afield to spay/neuter approximately 200 animals owned by people of limited resources.


Although Sava's Safe Haven Association is only 6 years old (founded in 2012 by Oana Sava and her family) and has only 4 volunteers and no paid employees, they have already accomplished so much:

  • *Sava’s Safe Haven currently provides a home to 300 animals, including cats, dogs, and birds, who get good medical care and have an opportunity to be re-homed. In 5 years (2012-2017), Sava's Safe Haven has rescued over 1000 animals and re-homed them in good homes locally and internationally. Every year Sava’s Safe Haven sends up to 100 dogs to be re-homed throughout Europe. (It's difficult to find homes in Romania. For example, Merlin, pictured below, was rescued when he was found on the street as a puppy; he was full of fleas and worms. Four years later, this beautiful dog is still at Sava's looking for his forever home.)

Merlin was rescued from the street full of fleas and worms

Merlin still at Sava's 4 years after rescue!
  • *Sava’s Safe Haven brings essential medical care to the community animals in their region. In a low-income area like Galati, the free medical care that Sava’s Safe Haven provides is vital to the health and well-being of all animals.

  • *Sava's Safe Haven opened a veterinary clinic at the shelter (pictured below) in 2015 to provide shelter animals with veterinary care without having to face the additional stress of a 30 km journey to the closest vet. The little room has a surgical table, instruments for easy surgeries - spay/neutering, test kits for rescued animals to check for parvovirus, distemper, heartworms, and other diseases prior to entry to the kennel.

Sava's veterinary clinic
  • *Through a partnership with another charity, Sava's has spayed/neutered over 600 homeless and community animals from villages surrounding the shelter, free of charge. And as mentioned above, they have gone even further afield and have s/n'd 200 animals owned by very low income people with no other access to vet care.

But there's much more to be done. Sava's Safe Haven hopes to find partners interested in supporting their plans, which include:

1. Improving the veterinary clinic and shelter (dog kennels and cattery pictured below).

The shelter

Sava's Safe Haven dog shelter

The cattery at Sava's -theycan socialize with the dogs

2. Supporting humane education so that people become more knowledgeable of animals' needs, including where to obtain advice and help when their animal is ill. 3. Organizing free spay/neuter surgeries in poor villages plus micro-chipping and vaccinating all animals. 4. Improving living standards and conditions for animals by making people aware of how to build a proper shelter for their own animals and to promote an awareness of animal welfare issues related to owning a pet. 5. Raising awareness of the implications related to keeping animals on chain and the connected health and antisocial problems.

6. Continuing to maintain the shelter and Sava's commitment to the rescue and care of homeless animals: In each kennel there is a dog house filled with straw and blankets in winter. Every kennel has bowls of dog food and a bucket of water. The cat shelter has an inside area with an isolation unit and an attached outside playground. The cats have many toys and if they aren't afraid, they can socialize with the dogs - this socialization process makes it easier for them to find families. All animals in the sanctuary are healthy, fully vaccinated, micro-chipped, and neutered.

A few of the lucky dogs who have been rescued, but are still at Sava's looking for homes, are pictured below: Freida, 2 special needs dogs, Simha, a real sweetie pie, and Fizz, still just a puppy.

Freida was born on 1 Oct 2017 to Sandy, a pregnant dog, who was rescued and brought to the shelter-it was too late to spay her though

A Sava's Safe Haven special needs dog looking for a forever home

Another Sava Safe Haven special needs dog looking for a forever home

Simha is friendly, affectionate, about 2-3 years old and needs a home!

Fizz, only about 6 months old and needs a permanent home

Sava's needs help to cover the costs of this Safe Haven, including the daily operating costs and for their future plans:

Shelter costs

  • *15,000 euros is needed to improve the shelter and veterinary clinic, including making the clinic larger and adding more facilities.

  • *Sava's Safe Haven needs to provide over 5 tons of dry food to feed the animals each month. (In winter, the dogs need a little extra food to stay warm-picture below).

Keeping 300 dogs fed, healthy, and warm (during Romania's cold winters) is expensive!

Community Animal costs

  • *Vaccinate, microchip and register in database-10 euros/animal

  • *Spay/neuter (regardless sex/size)-25 euros/animal

To help Sava's Safe Haven:

Contact person: Alexandra Sava (Sava’s Safe Haven representative of the charity) Email: Registered Charity no: 32908365 Bank Account ASOCIATIA SAVA S SAFE HAVEN COD IBAN: RO45INGB0000999904241038 COD SWIFT: INGBROBU PayPal Website:

Alexandra told me, "Our charity is small, but this does not stop us for trying to do something for animals."

First of all, Alexandra, you and Sava's Safe Haven have already done SO much for animals and if the past is any indication, the animals are very lucky to have Sava's helping them-I'm sure you'll do so much for Romania's cats, dogs, and birds in the future!

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