A FORMER Playboy model from Basildon is stepping away from glamorous photoshoots and focusing the camera on man’s best friend for her charity K 9 Angels.
Essex girl Victoria Eisermann, who co-founded the charity with singer Pola Pospieszalska and actress Anneka Svenska, has been working tirelessly for the past four and half years saving the lives of mistreated and stray dogs in Romania.
Voted Europe’s Most Sexiest Vegetarian by animal charity PETA, Victoria is an animal lover through and through and tells me that every single trip out to Romania breaks her heart.
“It really is horrific out there,” says the 45-year-old, who is also a guest presenter on Brentwood’s Phoenix FM. “Dogs are treated like vermin and the shelters are not shelters, they’re concentration camps. The dogs are in there dying.
“We have had people question us, why we’re helping dogs abroad when we have a problem here in the UK, but they don’t have the help or any laws out there,” she explains. “We have so many different organisations here like the RSPCA and Dog’s Trust. And they are just dogs at the end of the day, they don’t have a voice, they need help and without outside help they are going to die.”
With an estimated two million stray dogs in Romania, the small UK based charity raises funds to rehome, spay and neuter dogs as well as sending aid, food, medical supplies and shelter for dogs both on the streets and those that have been captured in shelters.
“There are shelters in Romania but they’re not like shelters that we know here,” explains Victoria. “The Breasta Shelter is not a shelter. It is a death camp. Dogs are better off on the streets than they are in that place.
“The people that work there are savages, I’ve seen them kick and punch dogs,” she continues. “They throw a little bit of food in but there is no control over what dog gets what so the weaker dogs are inevitably going to die because the stronger ones are eating the food. Most of the dogs have some sort of illness too but because they’re not quarantined, they’re all chucked in together, all the dogs end up getting the illness.
“They do spays there but they basically butcher the dogs. We have to try and sort their mess out. They’ve left the dog half open, they just don’t care about the dogs, there’s no compassion there whatsoever. They’ll also have a cull when they’ll just go in and kill a load of dogs. We take dogs from there because we really are saving the dogs lives.”
Indeed, Victoria has welcomed three dogs from Romania into her own home – the latest addition is Henry from the Breasta Shelter, who arrived a week ago.
“I have one of those dogs in my house at the moment,” she says. “He was crying and begging. I have five dogs myself but I fostered Henry. He’s the sweetest little dog, he just wants to be loved. He’s very foxy, he’s cross breed obviously. He’ll just lick your hand all day, he just wants you to love him. The life he’s had is awful and if people treated me like that, I would hate them but these dogs just want to be loved. They’re very forgiving.”
As a celebrity herself, having appeared on Big Brother and in the Tom Cruise film Eyes Wide Shut, Victoria’s charity is lucky enough to have celebrity supporters, with Ricky Gervais tweeting one of their appeals, raising them £33,000 and Simon Cowell, who gave the team a plug on Britain’s Got Talent that saw them inundated with phone calls.
But it was on a recent trip to the Breasta Shelter with YouTube star Emily Hartridge that saw Victoria save two puppies from death on the railway tracks in Romania.
“As we were leaving the Breasta shelter, we got on the train, it stopped at this very remote part of Romania and I saw a tiny, fluffy puppy on the train track. I’ve never seen them on the rail track before. I was screaming at the top of my voice to the man nearby. He saw me pointing at the puppy, he got the puppy and gave it to me on the train. The train was stuck there for an hour so I filmed where I’d found the puppy and I saw another one. A couple of days ago they’re now in the UK in their forever homes. We call them the Railway girls.”
So far the charity has rehomed over 800 dogs, has set up a shelter that currently houses 135 dogs in Romania and is working to provide spaying and neutering for hundreds of dogs that are over spilling onto the streets – an action that Victoria says could help to ‘nip the problem in the bud’.
“For every dog that has a puppy and their puppies have puppies, one dog and her offspring in seven years can have up to 67,000 puppies,” she says. “If you spay one dog, you are saving thousands of lives.
“We’ll go out to Romania and we will be hands on to help the vet with the spaying, we anaesthetise the dogs, we take the dogs to the operation table and when they wake up after the operation, which takes 15 minutes, we’re there to let them know that everything will be okay. We’re very hands on.”
And it’s not an expensive treatment in Romania. Victoria tells me that spaying can cost as little as 20 euros.
“It’s nothing,” she says. “And to stop dogs from having babies is the best way to stop this situation.”
As part of the charity’s spaying campaign, Victoria pledges to cycle a staggering 500 miles to raise funds for the cause.
“Every single year I do a huge cycle ride,” she says. “Last year I cycled 400 miles, the year before I did 300 miles and this year I’m cycling 500. Last year we raised £7,500 and with that money we spayed and neutered 500 dogs.
“They are just dogs, they don’t ask to be born,” she adds. “A lot of people said that I wouldn’t like going to Romania because the dogs are vicious but I can honestly say I’ve never met a vicious dog in Romania,” she adds. “Without our help they are doomed and now that I’ve seen what I’ve seen, I certainly wouldn’t be able to walk away.”
For more information about the K 9 Angels and the vital work they do, visit k-9angels.org.