Mona Semeniuc has dedicated her last ten years to making a shelter for the animals that gave her hope when she needed it most. Victorious in her battle with cancer, the 63-year-old woman is today fighting a battle with thieves who constantly steal her building materials for the paddock, but also with the mentality of people: “Outside they have a different respect for small animals”.
Three nights in a row, thieves came to the land on the outskirts of Bucharest, where Mona Semeniuc, aged 63, is building a shelter for over 200 dogs and cats, animals she has rescued from the streets in recent years . They first stole wood, then the concrete from the fence he had erected. The founder of the “Refugiul Maidanezilor” association now needs money for the materials she had to buy a second time.
“Until spring, I don’t even put up the gates, because I’m afraid they’ll steal these too,” confesses Mona Semeniuc.
The fourth shelter
The shelter in the town of Manolache, Ilfov county, located about 14 kilometers from the center of Bucharest, is the fourth one that the president of the association “Refugiul Maidanezilor” has set up.
In 2013, he built the first one, during the period when the Parliament voted on the euthanasia law. It was small, made on a plot of land somewhere in Curtea de Argeș.
He built it for the dogs he cared for in a field somewhere near the house. She had found in animals a kind of motivation to get out of the house, in her battle with cancer at the time.
The shelter quickly filled up, because people kept asking for his help, spreading the word among acquaintances or on Facebook. So a year later, he set up another shelter in the town of Manolache, in Ilfov county. But it also became out of room, so he moved it to Bucharest.
In the current shelter it has 180 dogs and 50 cats. Over 200 animals cared for by her, a former teacher and another woman.
“I also have volunteers, but they all have jobs, so they come on weekends. Five or six people come, sometimes even eight. They take care of the animals, feed them, clean their pens, play with them”, says Mona Semeniuc, in an interview with Libertatea.
For the land on which the shelter now has, it pays rent of 5,000 lei per month and has come to the conclusion that it is money that it could otherwise invest much better in animals.
A friend from Belgium bought her a plot of land near Bucharest
With the help of a friend from Belgium, who bought and then donated a piece of land close to Bucharest, near the Ring Road, he started building a new shelter last month. This time, on her piece of land, without depending on a rent.
“My friend from Belgium recently had her husband die from COVID-19, and after that, she said she was dedicated to animals. This land wanted to be for animals, for these nobody’s puppies to have their land”, says the president of the “Refugiul Maidanezilor” association.
He wanted to put up the fences and clean up the land a bit by winter, and from spring take care of the dog pens and the rest of the arrangement, so that by this time next year the animals would already be accommodated in the new space.
“We’ve been dealing with this for a few weeks now, it’s a lot of work. We haven’t even taken over animals yet, because we can’t cope with dealing with both animals and construction. I only took over emergencies,” the woman confesses.
They stole wood and concrete from fences
But her plan went awry on Friday, November 11. At night, the boards for the concrete formwork were stolen. “I wasn’t surprised and I didn’t think much of it. I said that’s it, maybe some poor guy makes his own fire with them”, says Mona Semeniuc.
But the theft was repeated the next night, worse. Gone are the concrete slabs and pillars that were to be installed. After the third night, he found the entire structure vandalized: the thieves also broke the posts already installed to remove the concrete slabs.
They stole as much as they could. A damage of 15,000 lei. A police car has been with us for three nights. We also stayed, the driver, and whoever else could.
“I’m looking for a man to be a permanent guard until spring, but I’m also afraid for him, because the shelter is long and he’s in the field,” she adds.
“I spend every day here, they need me”
Because she could not leave everything abandoned, after so much invested in the new construction, Mona Semeniuc bought other materials. He wouldn’t have succeeded without the help of his friend from Belgium. The association’s accounts are almost empty, and the money that comes from donations is used for the maintenance of the animals.
“I continued to work, there are still gates to be installed, but I’m afraid. I prefer to close with some mesh fences, something, and put the gates towards the spring, to make it easier with the protection of the shelter”, says the president of the NGO.
For Mona Semeniuc, for almost 10 years the maidan animals have become her life. Admit it sounds cliche. “But that’s how it is. I spend every day here. They need me. To do so is to have no life. But when you commit, you commit,” she adds.
“I have 17, 18-year-old dogs that need treatments. They need special, soft food. You can’t leave them like that. It’s hard, but it’s also very satisfying that you’re doing something good,” says the woman.
“For them, for my dogs of the field”
Adoptions are rare and some end in disappointment. There are dogs, especially puppies, that were brought back to the shelter after a few days because the adoptive families did not have the patience to train them. Most adoptions are cross-border, in the US and Belgium in particular, where they collaborate with another NGO. On Facebook, she has a folder dedicated to adopters, called “People Who Change Destinies”, with almost 500 photos of families who have adopted dogs saved by her.
“They are treated differently there, they have a different respect for the animals,” she says.
Two of the first tenants of the shelter owned by Mona Semeniuc’s association are still with her. Căprioara and Jan, both are 13-14 years old. Although they are old and Jan is also sick, Mona hopes that both of them will inaugurate the fourth shelter with her, this time permanently.
“For them, for my field dogs, I did this,” she emphasizes.
Mona Semeniuc’s association survives on donations, and although it has now managed to meet expenses even after the vandalism of the building, it still needs money to feed and treat the more than 200 animals and to afford an employee to guard the new shelter.
“I hope we can finish the shelter. I hope it’ll be okay. I hope”, says Mona Semeniuc, as if saying the word “hope” several times will make her dream materialize faster.
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Source From: Libertatea