The stray dogs that live on the streets of Bucharest and throughout the rest of Romania are at the center of a drama that is being played out by politicians, dog catchers, animal activists and the public.
Unless action is taken soon, the end result will likely be a mass slaughter of thousands of animals.
The number of homeless dogs in Romania has grown to critical numbers. It is estimated there may be as many as 100,000 living in the capital city of Bucharest. They can be seen wandering on every street and hopping on and off public transportation.
The dogs lead pathetic lives scrounging for food and being hunted down by dog catchers who are notorious for torturing and brutally killing the animals through electrocution or slashing their throats.
Generally the animals they capture are young puppies or friendly older dogs.
The public blames the problem on former Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu who forced 40,000 people to leave their homes in 1984 and move into enormous apartment complexes. Pets were forbidden at the building and abandoned by their owners.
The dogs were initially seen as a nuisance, but in recent years people see them as a threat to their safety. The incidence of dog bites are up and one woman was brutally attacked by a pack of dogs.
To counteract the problem, the Romanian Parliament has passed a host of animal welfare laws.
In August 2004 they ratified the European Convention for the Safety of Pets. In May 2004 they passed a law to prevent cruelty to animals. Legislation in December 2007 improved Romania’s Animal Protection Act by banning the euthanasia of pets unless they were sick. And a second law in 2007 approved a Catch/Neuter/Return policy for stray animals which protected them from being killed by dog catchers.
Many of these laws have never been implemented and the Catch/Neuter/Return policy has been blocked for the past three years.
Now the saga has a new twist. A proposed amendment will put the fate of stray dogs in the hands of local authorities who will likely kill them.
The law will allow officials to sweep homeless dogs from the street, hold them in a shelter for 30 days and then destroy them.
Animal activists say this policy will lead to the mass slaughter of thousands of stray dogs.
Advocates like Pfotenhilfe Europa have been protesting for a month for Parliament to keep the current law and to begin the aggressive spay and neuter programs that were promised.
To show how sterilization can work, a national Spay-a-thon is scheduled by animal rights organizations from May 15 -25. It will be sponsored by Romanian animal welfare groups, but veterinarians from around the world will be taking part.
Romania Animal Rescue, Inc. printed this on their website:
For decades in Romania street dogs have been killed in vain attempts to control their population, using barbaric methods as the most usual way of killing the animals. As we have noticed, the animals keep repopulating regardless of the killing. When dogs are killed in an area, others move into the area and repopulate it. So the vicious cycle of killing animals does not work.
Only Catch Neuter and Return has been proven to decrease the unwanted street dog population. When 80% of the dogs are sterilized, there is a 0% population growth. Sterilization (spay/neuter) is a win-win. It humanely decreases the unwanted street dog population, eventually eliminating it altogether.
(This story was shared with me by a fellow Care2 member.)
This video does not contain graphic material. It show the what life is like for stray dogs in Romania.
Related Story: Romanian Parliament Moves to Legalize Euthanizing Stray Dogs
Creative Commons - Jack Zalium