You always have to expect the unexpected at Happy Tails, 1 Dog at a Time’s rescue centre in Bistrita Nasaud where no two days are ever the same.

Unless there’s been an early morning emergency call out to a dog in distress, Co-Founder, Crina Popascu’s day begins at 5.30am and, with a cup of coffee in hand, she lets the dogs out. Water bowls are cleaned and filled, beds made and the dogs checked over before being fed.  Each dog has their own individual care and diet plan, an essential reference for all the volunteers to ensure that the dogs receive the right food, medication and care.  


Happy Tails 8


Over the past 4 1/2 years, 1 Dog at a Time has rescued hundreds of Romanian abandoned dogs (unwanted pets and street dogs), so that we are now well known in Bistrita.   Slowly but surely, local people are starting to contact Crina and her husband Mugar about dogs in distress or even bringing them in to Happy Tails.   These dogs really do experience the best and worst of human nature with some people treating them like vermin whilst others feed them and generally look out for them. 

Alisha and lady who saved her
Alisha with Stefana, the wonderful local lady who found her and bought her to Happy Tails

Crina and Mugar never know what to expect when they receive a call out to rescue a dog – day or night.  It could be a dog lying injured by the side of the road that may have been suffering there for some time.  Or maybe it will be a pregnant bitch, a litter of new born puppies or an elderly dog that has outlived its useful purpose.  All these types of abandoned dogs are regular sightings in and around Bistrita as they try to dodge the traffic on the busy streets. 


Puppies rescued from barn
Found alone and starving in a local barn, these puppies are now safe and sound at Happy Tails


At 6.45am Crina leaves for work as a solicitor and, Mugar, her husband  takes over at Happy Tails and his day often begins with a visit to the vets.    At the moment, there are several dogs with demodex, a nasty skin disease that need regular baths, vitamins and medication.  Then there’s Kenny, who came into Happy Tails with a badly damaged leg and requires daily treatment and frequent visits to the vet and other specialists in an effort to avoid amputation. 


Mugar treating badly damaged leg


Dog that died at the vet - Johnnie
With 10-20% of the dogs coming in with life threatening conditions there are often emergency visits to the vets

 Our Dream Team 

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Left to right Jayne, Virginia, Mugar, Miss Eli, Crina and Doina

 Crina and Mugar are central to everything at Happy Tails.  Having given up a successful job as a CEO of an engineering company, Mugar now works full time at Happy Tails.  Giving his time for free, he’s often on the ‘front line’ working throughout the night caring for severely injured and sometimes dying dogs.  A real softy at heart, he takes it particularly badly if the dogs he cares for don’t make it.   Crina also works tirelessly for the dogs and, on top of a demanding job as a solicitor, she spends early mornings, evenings and weekends working at Happy Tails.  Together they make an incredible and hardworking team.     

Of course, it’s sometimes harrowing for them on the rollercoaster ride of the highs and lows of rescuing Romanian dogs, but they don’t for one minute regret their life changing decisions or begrudge the long working hours.   They are just relieved at last to really be able to make a difference to these poor dogs’ lives, as Crina explains: 

“Before we had Happy Tails we had no option but to take the injured and dying dogs to the public shelter, a place where the weakest die first and only the strong survive.  Now with Happy Tails we know that we can really save the dogs that need our help most and find them wonderful, loving homes.”


Crina and Mugar are central to everything at Happy Tails

What would we do without our wonderful volunteers, Miss Eli, Doina and Virginia, who come in once a day during the week and help Crina and Mugar to provide 24/7 care for the dogs?   They change the bedding and clean the kennels from top to bottom twice a day with Virkon to stop diseases like distemper and parvovirus that are endemic in the public shelters.  When the dogs have been fed and exercised, there’s still time for the important task of playing with them.  After all, this is key in getting to know the dogs so that they can find just the right forever home. 

Aside from their essential work at Happy Tails, Miss Eli and Doina help to ‘build bridges’ in the local community by visiting the owners who are struggling to look after their dogs, and providing advice and free dog food.   They also help out at the public shelter cleaning the cages, taking food and giving some much needed love and attention for these forgotten dogs.   In their spare time, they provide food and where possible medical help and love to the abandoned pets and street dogs that are struggling to survive on their own.   With 30 spaces at Happy Tails sadly we can’t take all of them but, thanks to Miss Eli and Doina, we do our best to monitor, care for and feed as many as we can. 

Our volunteers also help out at the public shelter, visiting once a week to clean the kennels, take extra food and provide much needed love and attention


Miss Eli caring for the sick, wounded and starving dogs around Bistrita

A Sanctuary of Love and Care

 For the fortunate dogs at Happy Tails, afternoons are a time of R&R when they can curl up on their beds in their centrally heated kennels.   It’s difficult to imagine the contrast between their comfortable, contented lives at Happy Tails and their daily struggle for survival on the streets and in the public shelter. 

Later in the afternoon when Crina returns from work, the dogs are let out to go to the toilet and are given their final meal of the day. In the evening, Mugar and Virginia will take the dogs out for their last run in the grounds, make their beds, wash their bowls, change their water before the lights are turned off and the dogs drift off to sleep to the sound of classical music.  

Alisha falling asleep
Alisha, contented and healthy, knowing that she’s safe at last at Happy Tails



Our landlord has put Happy Tails up for sale and 1 Dog at a Time Rescue has until September to find the £70,000 purchase price or we could lose it to another buyer. 

So far, we’ve raised £65,000.

We have less than 2 months to find the remaining £5,000


Read about our campaign to rescue Happy Tails: