Meet the Peterborough woman who has rescued thousands of dogs from Romania

Vanda Kizmaz - who has five rescue dogs of her own - has saved more than 2,000 dogs from Romanian kill centres since founding founded Noah's Ark in 2016.Vanda Kizmaz - who has five rescue dogs of her own - has saved more than 2,000 dogs from Romanian kill centres since founding founded Noah's Ark in 2016.
Vanda Kizmaz - who has five rescue dogs of her own - has saved more than 2,000 dogs from Romanian kill centres since founding founded Noah's Ark in 2016.

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Vanda Kizmaz set up Noah’s Ark charity to bring mistreated dogs from Romanian ‘kill centres’ to Britain

A Peterborough woman who set up a charity to bring dogs earmarked for death in Romania to the UK has spoken of her joy at being able to help them start new lives.

Vanda Kizmaz, from Orton, estimates that she and her small team of volunteers have rescued “approximately 2,000 dogs” since setting up Noah’s Ark in August, 2016.

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Though that time “sometimes seems like 20 years ago”, the 65-year-old animal lover remembers exactly how she became motivated to try and help.

“Back in 2015 I was scrolling through Facebook and I saw this thing come up saying about this rescue centre [in Romania] that were saving dogs from Breasta, which is a kill centre near Craiova.”

Vanda explains that Romanian kill centres keep dogs for 14 days before euthanising them, often in extremely cruel ways.

“What they [rescue centre] were doing was getting sponsors so that they could get the dogs out of Breasta and into a private shelter so that they could live, basically.”

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Feeling compelled to act on what she’d seen online, Vanda sponsored a dog and became part of the rescue centre’s team.

Thanks to Noah's Ark, thousands of mistreated Romanian dogs, like Susie (above), have been rescued, cared for and, eventually, adopted by British families.Thanks to Noah's Ark, thousands of mistreated Romanian dogs, like Susie (above), have been rescued, cared for and, eventually, adopted by British families.
Thanks to Noah's Ark, thousands of mistreated Romanian dogs, like Susie (above), have been rescued, cared for and, eventually, adopted by British families.

In short time, the conscientious dog-lover saw that the leaders of the Romanian charity were not as idealistic as she first thought.

This led Vanda and a friend to break away from the rescue centre and set up their own operation.

“The rest is history,” she notes.

Romania is notorious for its problem with stray dogs.

The issue stems back to the country's communist period when people were forced to move into blocks of flats that did not allow pets.

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Promptly abandoned, these dogs went feral, breeding at will.

Vanda, who has travelled to Romania – particularly Craiova – many times, says the dog-catchers there are “ruthless

“They will get the dog with the hoop (dog catching device).”

“Then they will lift the dog up by its tail and its neck while holding on to the pole so that the noose is literally cutting into their necks.

“This totally traumatises the dogs.”

Sadly, this trauma is not isolated.

Dogs in Romania are often horribly mistreated and beaten.

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Thankfully, Noah’s Ark’s simple yet highly effective mission: to get these dogs out of harm’s way and give them a chance at a new, happy life has resulted in many happy adoptions.

Once the charity gets clearance to liberate the dogs from Romania, the animals are transported to kennels in Wisbech and Kings Lynn.

Here they receive care and medical attention before being housed with foster carers.

Vanda says seeing the Romanian dogs adapt to their new surroundings is one of the highlights of the entire project.

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“The transition is amazing,” she says beaming: “foster carers are worth their weight in gold.”

As animal lovers themselves, the foster carers often experience the same degree of satisfaction that Vanda feels:

“The reward they [foster carers] get out of it is the experience of seeing the dogs trotting off to their new homes,” she shares; “It’s really nice.”

Amazingly, Vanda also works full-time for an investment banking company in London

So how does she manage?

“The charity takes up a lot of my time,” she admits, “but I love doing it.”