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Sava's Safe Haven's Ambassadors

We are grateful and proud of their mission to raise awareness about our animal shelter!

Lisa Ann Watkins

United Kingdom

"I have had rescue dogs for over 20 year and first adopted from Romania 10 years ago. Our pack steadily grew to five dogs over the years to follow and we always seemed to go for the oldies, the ‘sticky’or the big black ones that no one else wanted. I took a long time researching the rescue shelters that I came across online and even travelled out to Romania to see for myself the work being done. Once you have been there then you never again question why people adopt from overseas. There are things that I saw that will stay with me forever but for the Sava’s team this is their daily life.

Sava’s Safe Haven became one of the shelters that I followed and volunteered for and it didn’t take long to fall in love with one of their pups that Oana found abandoned with his family close to the road, and also very close to death. Sherlock came into our lives like a little whirlwind and the team at Sava’s were professional and supportive from the outset. They made sure every box was ticked ahead of the adoption. The dog’s welfare came first every time. I have watched Oana and her amazing family work so hard over the years and I am now very proud to be invited by Alexandra to be their shelter’s first Ambassador. I watch on with a renewed sense of hope as I see Alex pick up the reins and take the shelter forwards through education, spay and neuter campaigns and fighting the bigger picture. The work that the family undertakes is tireless and never ending. They can only do what they do with the support of an amazing bunch of volunteers who always try to be there for them whether helping manage the adoptions to the constant fundraising events. Our shared love for the animals has united us from around the world to form a big Sava’s family network of support.

My life revolves around animals, both my own and those that I depict through my art. I try to give those without a voice a way to share their message through my art. It was my art that first took me to Romania to visit not only the dogs but also the bears. I also work hard to ensure that my work raises not only awareness but also much needed funds for the rescues. Along with charity auctions and donations of my work I have had the honour to work with the founders of some of the world’s leading wildlife rescue organisations. I am an Invited Artist Partner to the Snow Leopard Trust, an Invited Artist for Sketch for Survival, am an official Ambassador for Derwent Art and have sponsorship and support from some of the leading art suppliers and organisations. What started out as a simple pet portrait business to help me with my own mental health led on to something much bigger.

My dogs are my life though and if I could give up work tomorrow then I would travel to Romania to help wherever I could. But for now I will continue to use my art to work as hard for the animals as I can. I mainly focus on teaching others to embrace their own creative nowadays but this gives me another avenue to encourage others to also use their art to do good. The awards and accolades that are bestowed on me are great, but the reward of bringing joy and life back to a scared animals’ eyes is priceless. " 

Marty Becker

United States

I’m Dr. Marty Becker, a veterinarian who recently visited the Ukrainian border in Romania as an advisory board member of the US-based World Vets (; a representative of the organization I founded, Fear Free (; and as an unofficial representative of the American Veterinary Medical Foundation ( I had traveled to Romania and Moldova to see how we could join global efforts to help pets and their people fleeing the violence and destruction brought upon Ukrainians by the horrific and senseless Russian attacks.

World Vets had connected me with Alexandra Sava from the family-run, non-governmental, non-profit Sava’s Safe Haven near Galati, Romania. I came away knowing she is an angel-on-earth and part of the most extraordinary family of pet rescuers I’ve ever met in a lifetime of loving pets and over four decades of veterinary practice and animal welfare.

Sava’s Safe Haven operates on the belief “Every dog deserves a chance.” Built by the Sava family and funded through donations, Sava’s Safe Haven houses dogs rescued off the street or removed from abusive situations, dogs dropped off outside their gates at night, and now dogs brought by people fleeing the war in Ukraine. The organization offers essential veterinary care, pet food, and supplies (both for pets and people) for those in need.

In ten years, Sava’s Safe Haven has placed over 5,000 dogs. That’s quite an achievement for one family-run no-kill shelter in a rural area of Romania.

Despite the 2019 COVID outbreak that caused the economy to stop in Romania, put people out of work, and made the feeding and care of pets difficult if not impossible; and more recently the Russian invasion of Ukraine that has caused displacement of millions of pets and people, Sava’s keeps to their open-door, no-kill, “every dog deserves a chance,” give-more-than-we-receive approach. Despite starting to run short of dog food themselves, I witnessed them sending 2.5 tons of dog food to the ferry crossing between Romania and Ukraine to feed Ukrainian pets (both in homes and in shelters). At least every other day, Sava’s vehicle makes a run to the border bearing supplies and returns with pets and people in need.

In addition to spending 17 years as the resident veterinarian on Good Morning America, founding Fear Free, authoring 23 books including three New York Times best-sellers, and working as a practicing veterinarian for more than four decades, I serve or have served on the boards of many animal welfare organizations and shelters. During all that time, I have never encountered the kind of spirit and dedication I witnessed at Sava’s Safe Haven.

I couldn’t be more honored to be the first Ambassador for Sava’s Safe Haven, and I pledge to work hard to ensure their lifesaving work can continue and that pets and people in need will be able to receive veterinary care, supplies, and above all, a place of haven. I hope you will join me in making that a reality by supporting this organization and its work."

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