Published: 00:01, 22 April 2014
Alen the dog has fallen on his feet after being rescued from the streets of Romania by a Medway couple.
With a name like Alen – given to him by the charity that saved him – he attracts a fair bit of attention from dog-walkers while out with his new family on the Great Lines.
Now his new parents Danika Douglas, 32, and her Army captain husband Stu, from Brompton, are telling his heart-warming story in an effort to encourage others to adopt a dog from his native country.
They first heard about Alen through the charity Love UnderDogs, which finds homes for stray dogs in Romania, where its culling policy has come under worldwide condemnation.
Mrs Douglas said: "He had been through so much.
"No one knew his age or even his breed when he was picked up with an appalling leg injury.
"There is a huge lack of education in the country about neutering and spaying and so the streets are overrun with unwanted dogs.
"Dog-catchers are contracted to round them up and no one seems concerned about the way they are treated or disposed of.
"We've heard of animals being beaten or injected with paint or petrol, which causes an agonisingly slow death, and other horrendous tales of ill-treatment."
The charity brings 25 to 30 unwanted Romanian dogs back to the UK every month and has rescued more than 300 to date, as well as several cats.
Such was Alen's distress, he spent his first few months in England with a foster family before being united with the couple and their other dog Kara, a dog rescued from northern Cyprus by the parents of Mrs Douglas.
She said: "Alen was very shy when we first met and hated men, shying away and giving them a wide berth.
"Now he is settled and happy in Gillingham and with the help of Borstal Barkers he has overcome his nervous behaviour."
Mrs Douglas said she understands people's reservations about taking on a rescue dog, but said: "Love UnderDogs is an excellent charity and makes a full assessment of every animal it rescues and brings back.
"I'd say rescue dogs are more affectionate, perhaps because of what they have been through.
"To see him running around and enjoying life is the best reward anyone could ask for."
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