It takes a very special type of person that can stay in the trenches, witnessing the constant bombardment of cruelty and injustice inflicted upon innocent creatures who want nothing more than to be safe and loved. A modern day St. Francis of Assisi, Sara Turetta is just this person and she’s my first “Shining Armor” post.
Sara is from Milan, Italy and in 2001 she went to Cernavoda, Romania when contacted by an Italian family living there for her help. The streets were full of dead bodies because local authorities were poisoning the strays by the hundreds, and an agreement was made to stop the killings if organized neutering and spaying programs were implemented. Sara had experience volunteering with groups at home and answered the call. Unfortunately, the existing association there was not interested in being managed by someone else, and so a new operation was started with Sara Turetta at the helm. With clearly established priorities of cleanliness, hygiene, efficiency, and strong leadership, Sara left her cushy ad agency position in Milan and hasn’t looked back. While I can imagine it has been a very sad and difficult road, there are thousands of victories for her with the happy dogs she has saved and the grateful families throughout Europe who have adopted them.
In Cernavoda today, Save the Dogs continues to offer a spay/neuter clinic for strays and through partner organizations transports them out and into new homes in other European countries. A free clinic is available to residents who cannot afford treatment for their pets as well. To combat the overpopulation within other parts of Romania, a mobile clinic travels the country to provide spay/neuter surgeries in these regions and they will soon reach 9000 in mobile sterilizations alone.
In addition to all of this work, Save the Dogs is playing a role in the welfare of donkeys and horses in Romania, animals that are also often cruelly treated and seen as disposable. Therapy programs have been started for children with special needs, giving these animals some joy, purpose and a brighter future. Also, educational programs have been implemented in these regions in Romania to teach school children the importance of proper animal stewardship and care. All of these projects are investments that will certainly pay off with future generations.
At the Italian Embassy in Bucharest last month, Ambassador Mario Cospito conferred the award of “Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella d’Italia” (Knight of the Order of the Star of Italy) to Sara Turetta. It’s the first time that someone involved in animal care and defense has received such an important award, which that in itself is a true honor. I’m sure Sara Turetta was pleased to be recognized, but I suspect just seeing photos of happy faces to which she’s given the gift of life warms her heart even more.
If you’d like more information, or to donate or adopt, you can visit their website Save the Dogs or contact them at their offices. In Italy: Via Pareto 36, 20156 Milano, Tel +39 0239445900 Fax +39 0230133300. In Romania: Str. Medgidiei, Bloc H4, Sc. C, Et. 3 – Ap. 52, 905200 Cernavoda (CT), Tel/Fax +40 241235081, or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Save the Dogs partners include: Brigitte Bardot Foundation, DogRescue Sweden, Friends of Homeless Dogs, Hundhjalpen, Protezione Animali di Bellinzona and The Donkey Sanctuary.