Romanian Court Hands Down Death Sentence for Stray Dogs

Following the fatal attack of a four-year-old boy in Bucharest last month, the Romanian government was forced to address its large population of homeless dogs. On Wednesday, in a move that sparked international outrage, Romania’s constitutional court ruled in favor of a bill that authorizes the roundup of thousands of strays who will be taken to a shelter where they will be killed if they are not claimed or adopted after 14 days.

Despite an appeal from 30 lawmakers who supported sterilization as an alternative, the Constitutional Court upheld the law, and dogcatchers are reportedly already out on the streets.

While there is a dispute between animal advocacy organizations and city officials about the actual number of strays in the the city, the population is estimated to be between 40,000 and 64,000. By one estimate, there’s a stray for every 31 people.

Now hundreds of dog lovers and animal advocates are protesting the decision and calling the government’s move an ill-conceived and brutal reaction that might placate angry residents, but won’t do anything to solve the problem.

“We don’t believe that anyone wants tens of thousands of innocent dogs killed as a response to the tragic death of this poor little boy. A proper long-term solution urgently needs to be put in place and this requires careful thought and consideration, not a knee-jerk reaction to appease/address the understandable public pressure in Romania,” said WSPA Europe director Ruud Tombrock.

Vier Pfoten, an animal welfare group, criticized the ruling, saying it ignored an appeal by the European Commission to Romania to protect animal rights, reports the AP. There are currently agreements in place that have concluded culling campaigns to control stray dog populations are not an effective solution. This type of strategy for dealing with homeless dogs has also been denounced by the World Health Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health, of which Romania is a member.

Vier Pfoten has reportedly sterilized 10,400 dogs in Bucharest alone, but without the ability to do it on a mass scale and more dogs continuing to be born, their efforts won’t make enough of difference in the long run. In addition to sterilization, others also support changing the culture of pet ownership, requiring microchips and pet passports and instituting harsh punishments for abandoning dogs.

The real question is how the population was allowed to get this out of control in the first place. The problem with strays is believed to have been started in the 1980s when communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu decided to tear down houses and replace them with high-rise apartments as part of an urbanization plan. As a result, people who lost their homes and had to move to places where they couldn’t bring their dogs just abandoned them. Since then, the numbers have just continued to grow.

It’s sad that action wasn’t taken decades ago before the problem escalated. Now dogs have to pay for human irresponsibility with their lives.

The bill still has to be signed by the president before it can officially become a law.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim V2 years ago

thanks for the article.

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing

Pamela W.
Pamela W4 years ago

Lucien F ........ Although it was not me who made the comment which upset you, I shall apologise to you for some of the comments here. You are perfectly right in saying not ALL Romanians are responsible for this reprehensible decision ..... I would also add that Romania us not the only European country who has undertaken such a heinous act (I believe one city in Russia did something similar quite recently and, prior to that, the Ukraine) !! All too often these "cleansing the streets of strays" bids are the result of an impending international sports event ..... so any excuse they can find (or trump up) is acceptable to the authorities who stand to make a fortune from their sports event. If only the EEC would tighten-up their laws and grow some TEETH to ENFORCE them with very heavy sanctions, perhaps the good people in these countries would stand a chance of getting their voices heard so things like this couldn't happen. Have signed this, and many other petitions, written e-mails, made phone calls (every option I can find) in an effort to stop these atrocities - and will continue to do so ....... there has to be a way !!!!!

Lucian Fundatianu

to M.S. please, watch the words you're using. I'm romanian I'm the one who signed the petition long before you've noticed I was in the protest marching against the law who decided the killing. I'm not proud of our leaders and most of the "humans" from here may not be so humans but watch you language please. It is not that healthy to call all the other nations a$^&holes even if I met some some a$^&holes from those countryes. We supposed to call ourselves more educated especially when you post comments here and take positions against unfair laws or people but with manners. Do you? I'm pretty sure you know nothing about my country nor where is located(don't google it! let's see if you know this)
Anyway, how do I have to think about the country that the law enforce is killing at discretion the dogs using the lethal force? "We Serve and Protect"??? lol
well, pretty much I hope I'm done!
Have a good one!

M Shiel
M s4 years ago

maybe the humans of romania will face a mass extinction They are uneducated a$^&holes who deserve to suffer and die I LOATHE romainia and all it stands for

Katherine Wright
Katherine Wright4 years ago

This is so wrong on so many levels and makes me incredibly angry.........I don't even have the words right now to express what I'm feeling.......

God help the poor animals in Romania because the humans have, once again, let them down.
And I am ashamed right now to be of the same species that is allowing this to take place.

Jeannet Bertelink

Romania you should know better, you are a Liar.

Angela l.
Angela L4 years ago

Wake up Romanians!!! the government lied to the people and to himself about the boy who failed to take care of crime and indeed, he himself is the true murderer; leading the countrymen to get away with crime. Romanians should be responsible for their own nasty act instead of animals. All dogs are loyal to humans and save lives, Romanians have to be so blinded and stupid not to save all these innocent lives for ER and as therapy dogs. It is the Romanians who are the problem, not the dogs!!! Their mind is so evil that blinded them to see the light. Soooo sad.
This is maybe the third time I sign the petition, I will keep on signing till the Romanians wake up from their evil act.

Sue Griffiths
SUE Griffiths4 years ago

I am sick to death of the lie that's been put out about the poor little 4 yr old boy who was killed. He was not killed by dogs, but that's what the mayors and authorities want everyone to believe so they have an excuse to slaughter street dogs. The father and grandfather were interviewed and said that the boy had been raped, killed, then his body dumped over a fence. I am so sad about what's happening to street dogs.

Sue Griffiths
SUE Griffiths4 years ago

A Romanian group that needs help desperately is

If you are feeling helpless about what's going on in Romania, read the above link and send them a donation.