Three weeks ago in Romania, where he’s filming his new thriller, Dead in Tombstone, Rourke decided to adopt a stray pet who had wandered onto the movie set. He’s calling him Foxy.
That led to him learning that the country is awash with stray dogs.
So he decided to do something more. The Bucharest Herald reports that he’s donating $250,000 toward the building of a large shelter for homeless dogs, and is intent on raising a million more for it:
The shelter will be called The Wild Dogs of Romania Sanctuary and Rourke underlined that “nobody will make any money from this investment.” He also said he will come to Romania whenever necessary to see how the project is going.
Rourke has found several partners for the project, such as veterinarians Mircea Zeta and Simion Corneliu and David Martinez, a Spanish man who is working in Romania.
The actor said the shelter will be as large as a football field and will be able to host thousands of dogs. Rourke is already in contact with an investor who will sell him a plot of land in the south of the capital, for a very good price.
Romania has had a troubled history with dogs. Before 1989, nobody was allowed to start an animal charity. Romania was under the brutal Ceaucescu dictatorship. People were often forced out of their houses and into communist apartment blocks, which meant leaving their dogs. The street dogs of today are, in many cases, descendants of those abandoned pets.
After the revolution, things began to change for companion animals. Spay/neuter and adoption programs began to spring up, along with small sanctuaries. Romanian people traveled across Europe and to the United States to meet people from animal protection groups and learn more about how to help the homeless dogs and cats.
But today, many dogs and cats are killed when local governments order street sweeps.
Will Mickey Rourke’s plan make a difference? Yes, but only if it has long-term support and is coupled with all the kinds of programs that are common in other countries.
Charities supporting animal protection in Romania include:
http://www.romaniaanimalrescue.com/ A U.S.-based charity
http://www.romaniaanimalaid.co.uk/ A U.K.-based charity
http://rolda.org/ Based in Romania
http://www.four-paws.org.uk/ Works in several countries across Eastern Europe