For months officials throughout Romania have threatened a mass slaughter of all the stray dogs in the country as their numbers reached a critical point. Animal activists protested and urged Parliament to sign a European Union Declaration that will humanely manage the overpopulation problem, but politicians have failed to take action. Last week the threat of a cull became a reality as towns began capturing and killing homeless dogs.
News posted on the website of animal rights organization, Pfotenhilfe Europa gave a firsthand account of the events. (Translated from German)
“Today (26.08.2011) all the dogs in the streets of Ploiesti are captured! The dog catchers from Bucov are working in shifts. Since this morning they have caught over 50 dogs and they keep going on catching dogs without a break. As I write this, on my way to Bucov, they are killing the dogs.”
Pfotenhilfe and other activists want the world to know there is still hope for the dogs in Romania. In June, a Written Declaration in the European Parliament on “Dog Population Management in the European Union” (26/2011) was submitted to humanely tackle pet overpopulation. It was launched by several Romanian MEPs.
To be adopted into law the declaration must be signed by at least 378 MEPs by October 6, 2011 or it will cease to exist. Today only 140 signatures have been collected.
It is estimated there are 3 million stray dogs in Romania. Blame for the crisis rests with former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu who forced 40,000 people to leave their homes in 1984 and move into large apartment complexes in the city. Pets were forbidden in the buildings and people abandoned their animals in droves.
To solve the problem, Parliament passed a host of animal welfare laws over the years, but most have never been implemented. One bill has been in the “discussion phase” for 3 years.
In March 2011, a proposal was introduced to shift control over the lives of homeless dogs from Parliament to local mayors who could decide if mass numbers of stray dogs should be euthanized. Many towns thought the proposal would pass and began making preparations for a cull.
But Parliament surprised everyone and postponed their vote for 3 weeks while they debated it.
During this period Romania witnessed an increase in the number of stray dogs shot, poisoned, beaten to death, burned, abused and tortured.
Ultimately Parliament voted against the new proposal and retained control over the stray dog problem.
Frustrated local officials began to threaten a mass killing of the strays, anyway. Dog catchers in the country who already have a notorious reputation for their cruel treatment of the animals went into high-gear to capture dogs. Reports by activists said food was being withheld from the dogs held in shelters and healthy puppies were being put into “death boxes” with sick ones. Then on August 26, news about the roundup of all the strays in many towns was reported.
Passage of the EU Declaration on Dog Population Management is more important than ever. Please urge Romania and other EU members to sign the declaration.
Take Action: Sign the petition to help the stray dogs of Romania.
Photo from cosmin_coco_ via flickr.