Dogs Behind Bars Belgium (DBBB) is an organisation founded by Cindy Terriere, further set up by volunteers and veterinary surgeons to help animals in desperate need, in Spain. Main focus is the sterilisation program and providing basic needs of streetdogs, shelterdogs and shelters.
I grew up in Wilder, Vermont in the United States and came to Belgium 22 years ago to start a new life and raise a family.
‘I always knew I had to one day get back to working with dogs.
The love and respect for animals has been instilled in us since we were children. A couple years after arriving in Belgium I started looking up shelters to see if they needed any help. I went for an interview at one near the Belgian Dutch border.
They hired me immediately. I was ecstatic! It was a fairly small breeder run by an older couple. They had about 50 dogs. Still quite overwhelming but I got used to it quickly and knew every single one of those dogs by name and character. My first tasks were to clean cages, let the dogs out into the field to play, give food, water and love.
I absolutely loved the work and each passing day the dogs and I became more dependent on each other.
Over the course of 3 years, 50 dogs turned into 500 dogs. The operation
became more secretive and criminal and I found myself stuck.
I could never leave those dogs. My job changed to pseudo-doctor.
There was no time to let dogs out into the fresh air anymore. I spend most of my time treating the dogs with skin diseases like mange, ringworm and hot spots, ear infections, ear mites, bite wounds, overheating, matted hair and parvovirus.
I had to keep them just healthy enough so they could keep breeding. There was no more time to play. It was just keeping them alive. By that time we had every single race of dog you could imagine. You name it.
I went home crying every evening. And got up the next morning to go back. I could never leave my dogs. Even though most of those dogs didn’t even have a name anymore,
I loved them all.
But one day I had to leave. The owners had started bringing in puppies from Eastern Europe.
They would sneak them to the kennel in the middle of the night.
Half the puppies would die from the long trip on the truck.
When I had voiced my disapproval they didn’t trust me anymore. I’m sure they feared I would go to the authorities.
The owners started making my work day difficult, asking me to do the impossible and kept me away from the store front. They didn’t want me coming into any contact with customers coming to look at a cute puppy. If customers asked to see the mama or papa of the puppy, they would run back to the barn and just take the healthiest looking one at that moment.
I did indeed contemplate calling the police, but for sure they would know I did that and I actually feared them.
From one day to the next, they fired me. Their excuse was that I went to a competitive breeder in the neighbourhood to help treat a couple of their dogs, using the materials owned by their kennel.
In fact, it was true.
So I left. And cried for weeks. I would never see my Jennifer again, the young German Shepard who was only two years old, but had already had two litters.
I loved her so much. I still think of her often. Every morning when she saw me she would spin in a high speed circle over and over again, so happy that I came back.
I wonder if she kept looking for me?
A couple years later I read in the newspaper the kennel burned down.
And again, I cried for weeks.
I knew my time would come again to help dogs.