My wife Nancy and I traveled to Romania to visit and work with ROLDA’s Dana Costin and Rolando Cepraga in the years 2003 and 2004. In 2004, I saw what the true Dana Costin was up to…..yet Nancy was still in love with the ROLDA dogs and wanted to keep supporting ROLDA. Come to find out years later, ROLDA was not all they claimed to be. The small Rolda shelter is virtually the same size now in 2011, as it was when we funded its construction in 2004. It can house anywhere from 35 to 50 dogs, and has a small cottage for visiting volunteers. What I find interesting about Rolda now, is that since all the construction and infrastructure costs (food, vet care, employees, supplies) of the “large shelter” are paid for by Arcelor Mittal, and any adoptions done by Rolda are paid for by the adopters – what is Costin doing with all the donor dollars she is collecting from her world wide fund raising campaigns? Does it really take hundreds of thousands of dollars to care for 35 to 50 dogs?
2004 – Galati:
Nancy and I went to the ROLDA shelter in 2004 to help prepare for the visit of Merritt Clifton and his wife and son, Kim Bartlett and Wolf Clifton. Claudiu Iosim from Animed Arad had arranged a tour of Romania for the Clifton/Bartlett family – the writers and publishers of the newspaper “Animal People”.
Things went as planned for the visit to Galati, and then Dana Costin decided she would like to take over the tour of Romania from Claudiu. Dana wanted to show Merritt (the self appointed “Watch Dog” of animal welfare charities) the work of Robert Smith in Western Romania. What Dana knew, but Merritt was not aware of at the time, was that one of the shelters that Robert had was experiencing a horrible situation because of the local authorities. Costin wanted to pretend as though she was simply showing Merritt a good program, and she would act “surprised” when she saw that there were problems for Robert (thus trying to ruin his credibility with Merritt). Nancy got wind of this intervention, and told Kim and Wolf what Dana was really up to, and that they should stick with the program as planned by Claudiu. Nancy and I were not going to sit idly by and watch Dana destroy the credibility of a great man, Robert Smith, who has put his own millions into helping the animals in Romania.
Dana was FURIOUS with Nancy. After we said our good-byes and put Merritt, Kim, Wolf and Claudiu on the train back to Arad, Dana would not speak to Nancy for the entire trip back to Galati (about 5 hours). Once we arrived in Galati, Dana took us straight to Dr. Ileana’s clinic. At the clinic there were 5 newborn puppies that had been found in a plastic bag and dumped in a trash can. A Good Samaritan from Galati had brought them to the clinic for Dr. Ileana to care for, and RAR had agreed with ROLDA to pay for their care and treatments.
Dana argued with Dr. Ileana for some time, unbeknownst to us what was going on…….finally Dr. Ileana brought out a box from the clinic containing 5 infant puppies. Dana handed the box to me and said, “Here, you and Nancy will take care of these puppies”. I told her we didn’t know how to care for newborn puppies, were afraid to care for them, and did not know how to feed them. “You will learn” was her reply.
Dana and Rolando then drove us to the ROLDA shelter in Smardan for the night where they were planning to dump us with the puppies – with no apparent food for them, no way to feed them – and no means of transportation, should we have an emergency with the newborns. I told Dana we would need to have some puppy formula and some bottles (which Nancy had shipped to ROLDA from the USA), so Dana got the formula out and found the bottles and gave them to us. Nancy and I proceeded to try to feed the puppies, but they did not know how to suck from the bottle – they were only 2 days old. So instead we found some syringes and started feeding these smaller than hand-sized infants with formula in syringes. Well, one by one, the puppies started dying. We were horrified. We had literally drowned them all in the formula!!! Nancy was devastated and called Dana. Dana said just to forget about it and we would never talk about it again. Well, that was easier said than done…..
After terminating our relationship with ROLDA in 2006, and finally having a translator in Galati so that Nancy and Dr. Ileana could communicate, Nancy found that in fact Dana Costin had insisted that the puppies be taken from Dr. Ileana’s care and given to myself and Nancy, knowing full-well that we did not know how to care for these puppies, and their chances for survival at such a critical age without their mother, or specific veterinary care would be slim to none. Dr. Ileana was told by Costin that WE insisted on taking the puppies…..not that it was her idea. A sort of “I will teach you a lesson” on the part of Dana Costin.
Well, this was and is a lesson of Costin and her character that I will never forget.