Despite cancelled travel documents and a day-long delay in Calais, a lorry-load of Romanian dogs finally arrived in the UK on Good Friday to the delight of their new owners.

Jennifer Gilbert, 36, of West Hill, Epsom, who helped organise the rescue mission along with Lisa Webster, 40, of Sherwood Park Road, Sutton, said: "We were jumping up and down, the transport guys said they and never seen anyone so happy to see their dogs arrive.

"The cries they made when they heard our voices were emotional, they recognised Lisa and I. They were so thirsty, it was a long few days."

Within an hour the dogs adopters started arriving at the Kingswood kennels to pick up their new pets and by 3pm on Saturday all 28 dogs had gone to new homes.

A hugely relieved Miss Gilbert said that it almost didn't happen as just hours before departure they found out the dog’s travel certificates were cancelled.

She said: "We had to bribe the Romanian government to let our dogs leave. They cancelled their certificates at the last minute. It was a stressful day."

Miss Gilbert and Miss Webster rescued most of the dogs from appalling conditions at an abandoned shelter in Fundulea near Bucharest last month.

A new Romanian law provides for the killing of captured strays if they are not adopted within two weeks from dog shelters.

Two local women had rescued 200 dogs rounded up by dog catchers from a "death camp" but they ran out of money and ended up abandoning the shelter in Fundulea.

Miss Gilbert and Miss Webster went out to save the dogs and also improve the conditions of the remaining dogs in Romania.

Miss Gilbert said: "We have had some marvellous feedback. We telephoned everyone on the Saturday for an update and they could not believe how lovely the dogs were and so affectionate.

"We could not have done this without our amazing adopters and foster homes and supporters. The publicity from the Guardian has been amazing.

"We will continue to try and help the plight of animals in Romania and will be bringing more over in a few months, so please get in touch if you can help by donating funds, adopting, fostering, fundraising."

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