California Ten
A documentary style project about ten volunteers from California helping the stray dogs of Romania.

High Def 540p QuickTime (50 MB)

Ten  volunteers  from California successfully traveled to Galati, Romania to assist local organizations with spaying and neutering stray dogs in an effort to reduce the out of control street dog population. They experienced first hand the living and working conditions along with corruption and abject poverty. They bring home with them a new outlook on the situation, as well as 13 puppies who find loving homes in California.

A film crew follows their efforts and captures the volunteers as they discover the truth about the street dogs and the people who are helping them. Volunteers get involved with assisting surgeries, catching stray dogs and getting to know the local residents and how they feel about their country and the issues that concern them most.

Ideas and preconceptions are challenged when the volunteers discover that life for the stray dogs, while short lived and often miserable, may present a better alternative than simply housing them at the city shelters. Brave volunteers take hidden cameras to expose overcrowding and cannibalistic living conditions at the city shelters.

They also discover that the Romanians care very much for the street dogs, known euphemistically as câini comunitari (community dogs). They just don’t have the infrastructure and resources to handle the overwhelming dog population.

Shot in High Definition 1080 25p, this film documents the story of ten determined volunteers. Armed only with a strong will to make a difference in the world, they discover the hidden truth about the stray dogs in Romania. But most importantly, they discover the truth about themselves. For a journal of our adventure and the latest up-to-date information, please read  Eva's Blog

The History

The current estimate of stray dogs in Romania is over two million. Approximately 300,000 stray dogs roam the streets of the capital city, Bucharest. They became homeless when former Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu tore down the equivalent of three Parisian districts in Bucharest to erect his homage to himself, The People’s Palace, the second largest building in the world. The displaced Romanians were not able to bring their pets with them and had no choice but to abandon them on the streets. The animals proliferated and gradually swamped the capital city.

After Romania's oppressive Communist regime was overthrown in late 1989, the country experienced a decade of economic instability and decline, led in part by an obsolete industrial base as well as a lack of structural reform. For example, the average monthly salary in 1996 was only $110 USD. Shelters and animal care in general do not register as a priority, and this attitude persists to this day. City shelters are poorly run, under funded and neglected in a society that deals with greater concerns such as inflation, unemployment and rampant corruption.

Traian Basescu, Mayor of Bucharest at the time, initiated a large scale euthanasia program to reduce the population of stray dogs. According to his Administration for Animal Control (ASA) he reduced the population from approximately 250,000 in 2000 to 25,000 in 2004. The workers responsible for collecting the animals had a financial incentive to kill the dogs inhumanely. Reports of dogs being strangled, beaten to death, or poisoned with strychnine were commonplace. But the killings never succeeded in stopping the swelling dog population or any of the related issues associated with this impasse. “I am elected by the people of Bucharest, not the dogs," Basescu said, scornfully dismissing the complaints of Western animal rights activists who were appalled by the mass killings. Mr. Basescu is now the President of Romania.

More than 20,000 people in Romania were bitten by stray dogs in 2000, placing a burden on the already weak Romanian health care system. In February of 2006, a Japanese man died after being attacked by stray dogs only two steps from the Government headquarters in Bucharest. This event, a year from Romania's possible ascension into the European Union, raises questions as to whether Romania is ready for political acceptance. The international image of Romania as a country incapable of finding a humane solution to the stray dog problem is evolving into an insurmountable issue for the Romanians and their future.

Schnuffie Productions sees our documentary as an inspiring story that instigates change. While our efforts will initially help only a few puppies, we hope to increase global interest and aspire to alter the bleak future of the stray dogs in Romania. We hope to inspire others to get involved in helping with the challenges the Romanians face in dealing with the problem. Now is a great time to begin a cultural change and to introduce Trap Neuter and Release (TNR) programs to reduce the number of dogs humanely. Our documentary will discuss TNR and demonstrate its advantages as well as show the difficulties in introducing this practice in a country incapable of equipping a vet clinic with what we may consider to be basic necessities.

If you have any questions or would like to donate, please contact Eva at +1 818-720-0725 or send an email to
eva@schnuffie dot com

All of us on the Schnuffie Team thank you for your interest and support.


Sample Story from California Ten QuickTime (9 MB)High Def 720p (58 MB)
 The volunteers walk the quarter-mile mud road to RAR, a local private shelter

The volunteers walk the quarter-mile mud road to ROLDA, a local private shelter.

Volunteers Silisha Sidell and Marilyn Gale return a recently spayed dog to her home at an abandoned warehouse

Volunteers Silisha Sidell and Marilyn Gale return a recently spayed dog to her home at an abandoned warehouse.

Director Paul Carlin captures footage as Molly Stretten prepares a dog for neutering

Director Paul Carlin captures footage as Molly Stretten prepares a dog for neutering.

Local farmers traveling by horse-drawn cart through the streets of Galati is a common sight

Local farmers traveling by horse-drawn cart through the streets of Galati is a common sight.

Eva Sippel, Peter Cruickshank and Molly Stretten attempt to round up dogs to be spayed or neutered

Eva Sippel, Peter Cruickshank and Molly Stretten attempt to round up dogs to be spayed or neutered.

After a hard day or work, the volunteers and crew relax at the Vila Belvedere

After a hard day or work, the volunteers and crew relax at the Vila Belvedere.

Paul Carlin shows an interested Romanian resident what he is filming

Paul Carlin shows an interested Romanian resident what he is filming.