A CARER at a Chobham nursing home is planning her next mission to Romania to rescue abandoned dogs from an appalling fate.

Caroline Smithers, who works full time at Coxhill Manor, on Station Road, is a volunteer with Dogs Walk This Way Rescue, a non-profit organisation dedicated to improving the lives of abandoned dogs in Romania. It aims to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome as many dogs as it can.

“Romania is a beautiful country but it’s no place for stray dogs,” Caroline said. “They are seen as a big problem there.

“There are places called public shelters, but I think of them as killing stations because that’s just what they are.

“The dogs are sent into these ‘shelters’ before being put down, and that’s not done humanely.

“Dogs Walk This Way Rescue goes and saves the dogs before they are caught to be killed, then tries to rehouse them in the UK. So far, working with rescuers in Romania, it has rehomed about 2,500 dogs.

“Every dog we rescue is a success story.  One of my favourites is called Lidl, who the team found tied up outside a Lidl there when they stopped to buy dog food.

“They untied her, put her in the van, and found her a lovely home in the UK.”

Caroline’s message of hope for the stray dogs has been embraced at Coxhill Manor.

“She has educated us all on the work of Dogs Walk This Way Rescue,” said George King, customer relations adviser at Coxhill Manor. “The successes and the heartbreak.

“Those are her passions, caring for our residents and helping animals. 

“So to help her, residents and staff here are getting their knitting needles out to make much-needed dog blankets that Caroline can take to Romania on her next rescue mission.

“Never has knitting had such meaning. Some are so committed to the cause that Coxhill Manor has formed its very own knitting club!

“If any News & Mail readers would like to join in our efforts and donate any blankets or knitting, Caroline would be over the moon.

“People can drop the items off outside – we’ll provide a box – and Caroline will organise delivery.”

Caroline is now working hard planning her next rescue. “I’ve been to Romania twice but a third trip in November was cancelled because of COVID. I’m rearranging the trip now.

“All the volunteers travel at their own expense: hotels, flights and usually van hire. A team of five or six  will go for four days because of work and family commitments. 

“I first got involved with the rescue centre about five years ago. I saw a post online asking for volunteers and I’ve been volunteering and fundraising for them ever since.”

FOR more information or to donate, visit www.dogswalkthiswayrescue.com.