Meet the team behind the scenes
Updated: Oct 4, 2020
During the past few weeks, you witnessed firsthand through my stories the amazing work done at the Susy Utzinger Stiftung für Tierschutz (SUST) clinic & shelter in Galați. Today, I would like to introduce you to the fantastic team that is bringing the clinic and shelter to life, supporting hundreds of animals daily. The format of this post will be slightly different than my previous ones: I conducted interviews with several team members and you will read below their answers to the following questions:
Since when are you working at the SUST clinic/shelter and what motivated you to join the team?
What is your role and what are your main tasks?
What would you tell someone who is interested in helping animal welfare?
I interviewed 6 persons but the team has extra pairs of hands for the dog area (Viviana, Traian & Georgeta) which are not presented below - nonetheless I wanted to also acknowledge their work here!
Lastly, a special video awaits you at the very end, so keep on reading :)
Lilu, Orphan Animal Hospital (OAH) & shelter manager
I have been seven years together with the SUST foundation. I joined this foundation because I wanted a job that would challenge me and a place where I could learn and improve. Of course I feel very grateful that SUST showed interest in me.
My role is to represent the SUST foundation and manage the team & place. My tasks are numerous, but the main ones concern my soul project: the Orphan Animal Hospital (OAH), which was a first in Galati, Romania. I started everything from scratch locally, we had the project and the vision, I gathered a good team that is 100% committed. OAH takes up a lot of my time:
I ensure the well functioning of the place, starting from appointments, assessing different situations, checking everything needed around the clinic is available: medicament supplies, food, accommodation.
I care for the running of the quarantine station and kitten station.
I take care of online PR, the eye and ear of our viewers, which is one of the most important tasks. I report and keep in touch with our virtual community, giving them plenty of news, info and updates about our cases, whether OAH or shelter related. The online community has a big impact on our projects and I do my best to please and bring joy to those who stand beside us.
I run the distance adoption program, which I handle with most respect and care. The SUST foundation and the distance adoption program is the reason of our success here in Galati. Professionals and Sponsors from abroad have our backs and their interest is a great chance for us.
I am the main contact between the Swiss SUST foundation and the local animal welfare organization. And I'm also active in the local media spreading the word about SUST impact on local grounds.
I run local educational projects, annual spay and neuter project, and animal welfare seminars for Romanian animal protection organisations.
We also care for horses that are in poor condition: we share our material and knowledge for horse owners that have less possibilities. Organizing medical campaigns with Swiss vets that come over and treat the poor horses from the area.
3. Animal welfare can be done in so many ways. I admit that I am involved in a small part of it only. I decided to focus all my energy, time and resources in one direction. I would advise others to do the same. I would love to be able to do more, help more species, cover more ground, get involved in more projects... but my experience so far showed me that it is better to “find what you love and let it kill you” (quote from Charles Bukowski).
Animals have feelings just like us, so we should never jump in a situation, just for the sake of it. Everything should be studied before and the best interest of animals kept first.
In these times, we are so lucky to have the relevant information a click away; everyone should take advantage of that. Those who think about getting involved should research the topic before doing so. If ones heart is in it, I am absolutely sure that the solutions will come by themselves.
All in all - I encourage people to join local shelters and organizations, if they have the possibility even contact abroad foundation for further knowledge and experiences.
The staff at the clinic (Orphan Animal Hospital, OAH)
I joined the team a bit more than 2,5 years ago. Knowing that here animal welfare is backed up by SUST foundation since many years, I joined the team to help animals in need, orphan animals that are in constant danger. My motivation is also to reduce the number of stray population.
I am the head vet at the clinic. My main tasks encompass: spay and neuter, first aid, assess medical state & make medical decisions, performing different surgeries. I also manage and group the clinic team for different works, like spay and neuter weeks, endo- and ecto-parasites treatment actions, mass vaccinations etc.
First and foremost, it may sound obvious but "not abandoning your pet" is something I need to mention, given the number of abandoned animals we see on a daily basis here... secondly, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of "spay and neuter" to prevent getting unwanted kittens/puppies which would either get killed or abandoned, which equals to a certain death. Other than that, you can protect them against harm, give food & water to the ones without shelter, adopt them. and of course volunteer with local animal welfare organizations if you can!
Mihaela, veterinarian nurse
I joined the team in October 2019. I always felt a calling towards animal welfare. I grew up with animals as a child and my family raised me to love and care for them. I myself have animals in my household, the last one was adopted from the OAH. After my child grew up, I found myself wanting to work, I saw an online ad that was looking for a worker at an animal clinic. Back then 2 positions were available: one at the OAH and one at the cat station. The clinic was what I wanted, after I tried both places.
My role is to serve the admitted animals and make my colleagues jobs easier by overtaking some of the daily tasks:
I care for the comfort of the hospitalized animals, I observe their behavior and report on. I organize the admission rooms for both dogs and cats.
I also keep the inventory of cleaning supplies and food for the animals, regular food and special diets or supplements/vitamins. I care for the comfort of the kitten station and the quarantine station.
I often receive animals for different scheduled surgeries, I explain post-op care and ease people's worries regarding the upcoming interventions.
I actively participate -on request- to attend consultations, treatments and surgeries.
I also take my work home sometimes! Some difficult cases need 24/7 care, such as bottle feeding of baby animals.
I think of myself as a multifunctional veterinarian nurse.
3. By participating actively! There are so many organisations and foundations that have shelters - check in your home country. A few hours in a weekend can mean so much for animals in need. Staying home and feeling sorry for them won’t help much.
And there is always promoting, fostering and adopting. All these actions could mean a chance to life for those animals! So I think by volunteering, by being active, one can help animal welfare.
Irina, veterinian technician
I've been working at the clinic for a year and a half. The main thing that motivated me was the fact that I could work with animals and help them. I was lucky to get here, because when I did the vet tech courses they weren't looking for another person in that clinic.
My role as veterinarian technician means that I give the treatments, clean and feed the animals, prepare them for surgeries, assist in surgeries whenever there is the need and so on.
In general, people should assume responsibility for their pets: take care of them, spay and neuter them, and not abandon them... When picking up a stray animal, also assuming responsibility for them, and not only dropping them at the nearest clinic or shelter to be taken care of by someone else. Realizing that we are not the only living beings around is a great step too!
The staff at the cat area
Gabi, caretaker & cat lover
I joined since January 2020. I knew there was an open role to take care of the cats from Irina (my wife) and Lilu, because the previous elderly lady couldn’t do it anymore and no one applied to the job posting. They knew I was capable since I have several cats at home and I’m a reliable person, so they asked me, and I said yes!
I am part of the caretakers’ team in the cat area: this means that I clean their enclosures, I monitor their health status through observation of their behavior, I introduce them to other animals so they are not afraid of them. In a nutshell, I’m here to ensure everything runs smoothly when it comes to cats and support their good quality of life.
There are many things one could do! One that I feel is particularly important, is that a person who has a cat or a dog should really take the full responsibility for them. This translates in making sure they get the proper socialization and training for dogs, spay/neuter them when they have the appropriate age. This would prevent having lots of unwanted puppies/kittens on the streets that have to suffer!
Iulia, caretaker & cat lover
I work at the shelter since April 2020. I joined as I wanted a big change in my life and do something different than what I previously did.
I am the other caretaker in the cat area. In addition to what Gabi already said above, I’d like to add that we feed them daily (obviously!) and also spend time playing and cuddling with the cats, including grooming them when necessary.
The first things that come to my mind are volunteering and donations. Both are equally helpful: volunteering is a gift of time/knowledge/hand power while donating money enable us to make sure we can purchase the required food supplies, equipment, treatment for the cats etc. Any help is always greatly appreciated!
Now it is your turn
From the interview above, I hope you could feel the level of passion and commitment by the team. It goes without saying this hard work would not be possible without external support too. For that reason, the shelter is currently running a crowdfunding to optimize their cat area. The goal is to reach 4'259 CHF, so far 79% has been reached. Would you help us in order to reach 100% ? Any contribution - big or small - will make a difference. As the French saying goes: "Les petits ruisseaux font les grandes rivières".
UPDATE 27AUG2020: the crowdfunding is now complete! A huge thank you for supporting the animals in Galați & contributing to their welfare in a very direct manner. If you would like to help further the shelter, check out the general donation page.
Are you ready to support the team too?