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May 31, 2020 6 min read

“Pets are humanizing. They remind us we have an obligation and responsibilityto preserve and nurture and care for all life.”

(James Cromwell, Amerik. Schauspieler)

Since thousands of years human life cannot be imagined without them. They make us laugh, are our most faithful friends and keep us on our toes. That’s why they have a very special place in our hearts. We are talking about our pets of course. And because we love our furry four-legged friends so much we at EMERALD BERLIN want to present to you a very special project this week: rescuing animals in danger is what the Hearts4Paws association is all about – learn more in this article!

“A life without a pug is possible but futile”, that’s what the famous and hilarious german comic and outspoken pug-lover Loriot once said. In his autobiography “Pugs and humans” he writes: “Pugs are not comparable to dogs. They unite the advantages of kids, cats, frogs and mice”. Lol.

Loriots bonmot can be coined on any pet of course. Be it a cat or a dog, pets are having a very special place in our lifes – often even the best place available: right in front of the warm fireplace or at the foot of our bed. Those lucky ones of you who already have a friend on four paws might confirm that fact.

A humans best friend

How incredibly human these wonderful creatures are, it can be appreciated in countless memes of dogs and cats that make us laugh every day in our Instagram-feeds – cuteness-overload! And by the way: did you know that grown cats are actually miaowing to communicate with us? This must have worked quite well in the past I assume. Those of you who have a cat learn quickly to read her lips and satisfy her each and every wish. But of course it’s not right to say you “have” a cat. If anything, the cat has you…

The fact is: the presence of cats or dogs can work miracles. Not only are dog-owners getting more exercise and fresh air (logically!) but pets also have enormously positive effects on our mental and physical well-being. Studies show without a doubt that pet-owners overall are happier and more healthy because playing with our pet-friends increases dopamine- and serotonin-levels in our brain and helps reduce stress.

But what may be even more important: our pets make us feel needed and loved. The famous British author George Elliot said it best: “Animals are such agreeable friends - they ask no questions; they pass no criticisms." Having a loyal friend that loves you unconditionally and will always be looking forward for you to come home, this can be such a great help – especially during tough times of “social distancing” – you know what I mean…

The heritage of the dictator

It’s a shame that pets are not enjoying their lifes in many places around the world as much as they do in Germany. In fact there are some countries in which the plight and suffering of animals is a real concern. Sometimes life is bad for cats and dogs simply because they are too many and they are living on the streets without anybody to take care of them. And the more they multiply on the streets the bigger the problem and the suffering becomes. There are places today where this situation has gotten out of hand.

In Romania the problem of animal suffering has been out of control for more than thirty years. According to estimates there are about 3 to 6 million street-dogs living in Romania today. 100.000 of them are living in the capital Bukarest alone. How can this be? Well, the “gratitude” belongs to a certain Mister Nicolae Ceaușescu. That guy used to be the communist dictator of the country between 1965 and 1989. Upon his order countless new flats and apartments were built in the cities, leaving no space for the dogs and cats which in turn were abandoned by their owners.

This led to an uncontrolled increase in wild dog and cat populations. At some point the numbers became so high that after the revolution in 1989 and the fall of the soviet union the new government saw no other way but to catch and kill as many of the animals as possible. The pain and suffering these measures caused were unspeakable. This became the sanctioned practice for years; it even became a business-model even tough great parts of the Romanian people as well as prominent figures like Brigitte Bardot protested against it. The latter even writing protest-notes to the Romanian government.

A Heart fo(u)r paws

When Sonja, the founder of the Hearts4Paws Association, saw the situation of the animals in Romania in 2017 for the first time she was shocked to the core:

“My tears were flowing and I lost control over my emotions. I have not seen anything that compares in Germany. If I could I would like to help all animals.”

Since that day Sonja fights for animals rights and dignity. Her association is trying to find new homes for cats and dogs in need thereby working as an intermediary between the NGO OneRescue Association that built the shelters for rescued animals and the potential new owners far away from Romania. The shelter is located in the Romanian village of Cosoba. Here many lonely, wounded or sick cats and dogs get treatment, a temporary home and in many cases are rescued from certain death.

In the beginning of the year 2017 Sonja moved to Bukarest and started her work together with the Romanian animal-doctor Dr. Adina Vladut – the founder of the OneRescue Association. Their shelter can hold about 350 dogs and 150 cats which need permanent care and attention. That costs energy, and time, a lot of money of course. For Sonja and her team the work is also mentally exhausting because there is so much pain to witness.

Sonja and her team of 16 young women make sure that from rescue to adoption everything goes smoothly. A dignified life for their furry friends is what they are working for tirelessly. It’s sad that only a small number of animals will ever be seeing anything else but the cages on Cosoba.

Saving Lives

When looking for a new home for a cat or a dog Sonja and her team are very considerate. People that are seriously interested in adopting an animal are welcome to apply with a voluntary disclosure of their life situation – the decision is made always and only in the interest of the animal in question. To Sonja and her team it is therefore most important that adoption is “well-considered and well-prepared” since “the animal should for the rest of his life become part of the family, become a real partner.”

What you can do to support Sonja and the Hearts4Paws Association? Luckily, a lot! First of all visit the website of Hearts4Paws for more information and subscribe to their Instagram-Channel where you get a lot of information too. By telling your friends and family about this project you are also helping enormously to spread awareness and make people get interested in the work of the association.

Of course Hearts4Paws also needs donations and is looking forward to people who want to take up a sponsorship for an animal – yes, that’s possible, too. Those of you who would like to adopt a cat or a dog are definitely advised to read the information on the webpage.

Daydreaming of you

And by the way: the newly available fashion-collection of EMERALD BERLIN was designed by one very special young lady. Patty, who is creating lovely Instagram-content for almost 65 thousand subscribers under the name bohemian_daydreamer, is herself a cat-mama and very interested in animal protection. Be sure to check out her channel! (Pssst: next week you can read an interview with her on this blog. You’ve got some questions or her? Post them in the comments down here!)

The collection was named Bohemian_Daydreamer x Hearts4Paws e.V. and it has one main objective: honouring the association and the work the team has been doing for years. They deserve our full attention and applause. Let’s help them out by spreading awareness and making their project known to the world.

All the items of our collection you find on our website. Show your support for the association and tell everyone you know about it. This way more people will learn about what Hearts4Paws does and even more animal-friends might have a chance to see a new home.

Thank you so much for your support!


 The author of this blog-article is Marc Dassen. You want to leave him a comment or ask a question? Send him an e-mail via



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