Stray dogs given a death sentence by the Romanian government are being rescued by inspirational volunteers.
Thousands of dogs on the streets of Romania’s capital Bucharest face death after the president called for emergency legislation to allow the cull of the city’s estimated 64,000 stray dogs.
The call came after the death of four-year-old Ionut Anghel, who was mauled by a pack of strays as he played with his brother in a city centre park.
Soraya Radford, Bagdat Ozz and Iain Lee were heartbroken at the thought of the innocent animals being sent to slaughter, so raised enough money to buy a van to drive to Romania.
Legally the group can only save dogs that have sponsors who have pledged to foster or adopt them and have so far rescued 15 to a centre in Berlin and returned to the UK this week with a further 15, one of which was adopted to a loving home in Twickenham.
Miss Radford, from Hampton, got involved in the rescue mission because of her interest in animal welfare, and contacts she made when she rescued her own dog, Rocky, from Romania in May.
The 28-year-old said the trip was harrowing and the worst part was visiting public shelters where stray dogs were sent.
She said: “Anyone from the UK would be absolutely horrified. The dogs are just lying in their own urine and faeces.
“Staff drag dogs around and the sounds coming out of them are just horrendous.
“We have heard stories of them just closing down the shelters and letting them starve to death or maul each other.
“The smell in there was like hell on Earth. It was horrendous.”
The actress said she hopes to make a feature documentary on the situation in Romania.
She said: “It’s really taxing and draining emotionally. We are just not used to it - you see a little puppy the size of your hand roaming about.
“There is no value to the life of a dog because there are so many of them. There’s a hate campaign against them.
“I know a lot of Romanians from this trip and before and they are not dog haters but it seems like an extreme reaction drummed up by emotive media after the death of the four-year-old.”
For more information, to volunteer or to adopt a dog, contact Soraya on facebook and to support her visit the Rocky Road Romania Dog Rescue Mission on gofundme.com/4rvhw0.