Stories of finding dogs abandoned whilst on holiday is not unique. In fact, just over 2 years ago we came across some dogs from Italy whilst on honeymoon. We had our own stray story when I shared with you our meeting with the very loveable Jessie. We never intended to adopt a small dog yet somehow she chose to adopt us for a week.
Our hearts melted, as did those of many readers of the article. Even to this day my bride and I talk often about Jessie and how we’d love to see her again.
One reader of the article about Jessie recently shared her story with me about some unwanted dogs, or should I say that they are now very much wanted. Reader, Kara Birrell, has bonded with Cassie who is currently at a stray dog shelter in Italy. The story becomes more interesting since Cassie has since become a mother, yes there are some homeless puppies too. Kara is desperately trying to adopt these dogs and bring them home to the UK. She can provide the love and care these animals deserve. However, to do this she needs your help. Please read on for this amazing story in Kara’s own words.
The story of Kara and the dogs from Italy
We visit my partner’s Italian family home in the Lazio region a couple of times a year, and always manage to find ‘holiday’ pets to stop us missing our 3 dogs at home. It is very easy to fall for a few of these holiday pets, and it has often been discussed about bringing a dog back to the UK. We always buy food for these dogs and cats while we are there, give them love and attention, and hope that they’ll still be there next time we visit. More often than not, we don’t see them again.
This year we met a very nervous, and very pregnant stray bitch. It took me a few days, with the help of locally bought sausages, to be able to get near her. Once she realised that we were trying to help her she always found us when we were at the local coffee bar in the morning in hope of a bit of croissant, or the restaurant in the evening for some leftover scraps of pasta, lamb bones or even calamari!
She still wouldn’t let anyone touch her apart from me, and was, and I imagine still is, petrified of men. You can see in the photo below the tick above her left eye, I managed to gain her trust enough over the first few days to be able to get this parasite out!
As our 2 week holiday continued it became quite apparent that her puppies were due very soon. She seemed to be living in a field and had obviously been in some fights looking at the state of her ripped up ears, it was a worry as to how her puppies would survive.
After a ‘mezzo rosso’ at the restaurant one evening, my partner, Adrian, offered to pay to bring this dog back to the UK, but I would have to make all the arrangements. I asked him to repeat this offer the following morning, when he was sober, and yes, the offer still stood. Although I’m not convinced he thought I’d actually go through with it! (Although once I started looking into costs, it was far more expensive than either of us initially thought, well into 4 figures!)
We decided to name her Cassie, as we found her in the Casalattico region. Here is Cassie waiting by the car in hope that we might take her home with us.
We left the village to return to the UK at 3.30am, and stopped off on the way down the mountain with the leftovers from the fridge; cheese, meats and also a tin of dog food that we’d bought the day before. We didn’t expect to see her at that time, but we stopped the car in the dark, got out, I called her and she waddled over to me as fast as she could, with her pregnant tummy swinging from side to side! We said our goodbyes, and I promised her that I would do my best to get her somewhere safe to have her puppies and get her home to the UK for the pampered dog life that she truly deserves.
Whilst Adrian snored alongside me in the taxi back from Gatwick, I was Googling dog quarantine regulations, and Italian dog rescue charities. I found a lady, Chiara, in Milan who helps coordinate the rescue of animals throughout Italy, with the help of volunteers across the country. http://vickiware.wix.com/fureveranimals
Chiara got in touch with a volunteer near Rome who found 5 other volunteers and armed with photos of Cassie and a rough address, they did the 2 hour journey the next day to the Casalattico region. They found her, but she was so scared that it took them 5 hours to finally catch her. They took her back to their boarding kennels, where she was very scared for the first day, but the second day, just 36 hours after she was caught, she gave birth to 7 puppies.
Now came the challenge of trying to get Cassie, and maybe some puppies, back to the UK. I have plenty of dog friendly Facebook friends so this is where my work started. One old school friend suggested setting up a Justgiving page to help raise the money needed to keep Cassie and her puppies safe for the 12 weeks that the puppies would need her for, and then the vet’s fees and transportation.
I set up a Crowdfunding page on Justgiving whilst I was on the phone to a family friend who had rescued an Italian dog previously, within the 10 minutes I was on the phone to her, we were up to triple figures on donations. I was truly overwhelmed by the support Cassie was getting!
Now to arrange the transport home for her, now the puppies were born I knew we had 12 weeks to get this arranged. I got up to Google page 5 on a search for transporting dogs from Italy to the UK. After 5 hours of filling in enquiry forms and sending emails I received quotes ranging from £600 to £2000+ !
Chiara forwarded my details to some other people who had rescued dogs from them in the past, and still help the charity, who were, and still are, so helpful with advice and support. One named the dog transporter she used and who I have now provisionally booked to bring Cassie back to the UK in December IF we can get around the Italian bureaucracy.
It seems that dogs in the Lazio region need to be registered to a Lazio resident, which we of course aren’t. I can understand why they do this, to make residents responsible for their animals, however it doesn’t help us soppy English folk take these poor strays off their streets!
We hope we have a solution, and we plan to go back to Italy in November to hopefully get all the paperwork sorted, but I’m not convinced that it’ll be an easy ride from here, far from it I imagine. The support we have received by so many friends, and total strangers, is my driving force, along with a photo of Cassie on the screen saver on my phone, this melts my heart every time I see it! At least Cassie and her puppies are safe and as you can see from the photo below, she is getting enough food to help hide that skinny body!
Please help Kara bring Cassie home. You can help her with the fundraising on the Justgiving page here.