A Durham woman is on a mission to rescue two dogs from a Romanian kill shelter – but needs help to fund their travel to the UK.
Animal rescue owner Stef Martin has helped around 200 dogs in total, and Barney and Miky are the latest canines she has set her heart on saving.
While it’s incredibly “hard work” for Stef, seeing the “pure joy” on Barney’s face when he boarded the “happy bus” leaving the kill shelter makes everything worthwhile.
The doggy duo are traveling from Romania to the UK via the Eurostar, and Stef would be incredibly grateful to raise the remaining £310 to cover the cost.
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Stef, based in Gilesgate, Durham, worked at a rescue center before setting up her own home-based animal rescue in May 2020.
She fosters street dogs from the UK and Europe, nurses them back to health and finds them new, loving homes.
Stef said it’s “hard work but very rewarding”.
“The dogs I take are generally the ones that rescue center don’t or can’t take,” she explained. “The poorly, old and injured ones.”
In December 2019, Stef visited Romania to see the unwanted street dogs in kill shelters, and was so “traumatized”, she swore never to go back.
Since, she has helped around 200 dogs in need – and currently has seven dogs at home, with two more on the way.
Romanian rescue dogs, Barney and Miky, will be arriving in Durham on Saturday, and will be staying with Stef until she finds them both forever homes.
“When I saw a photo of Barney in a kill shelter, I just had to help him – he reminded me of my own dog, Sally,” she said.
“I was sent a picture of him sitting on the happy bus as he left the kill shelter and it was pure joy.”
Miky had been trapped in a different kill shelter for a while – and when Stef made the decision to transport Barney, she couldn’t leave Miky behind.
Stef’s Rescue has paid for the two dogs’ vaccinations, health checks and passports, as well as paying to have them neutered – which costs approximately £165 in total per dog.
Their transport from Romania to Europe via the Eurostar costs £230 per dog – and Stef has managed to raise £150 so far.
She desperately needs £310 to cover the remaining sum.
Supporters can enter a raffle for £2, with the chance to win a personalised, custom-made felt dog.
At home, Stef has two Romanian rescue dogs of her own, Sally and Millie.
She also has a soft spot for her long-term foster dog, Marley – who is struggling to be rehomed.
“I called him Marley after Bob Marley’s song ‘Three Little Birds’ – that’s what I’d sing to him when he first came here,” she said.
“I have sat terrified, huddled in the corner of the kitchen for three days.
“Nine months he slept next to me but wouldn’t let me touch him.”
Now, Marley enjoys being stroked and cuddles Stef every night.
Stef is also trying to find a foster home for disabled dog Daniel in Romania.
“He has no use of his back legs and really needs somewhere to go,” she said.
It will cost Stef £500 to bring Daniel to the UK – but she does not have any room for him.
“I am having to turn down at least one dog a day at the moment,” she added.
Anyone who would like to enter the raffle must specify ‘felt dog’ when they donate.
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