Street dogs in Bucharest

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In Bucharest - the capital city of Romania - the problem of stray dogs (maidanezi in Romanian) has been acknowledged for the past decades.[1] Officially, 65000[2][3] stray dogs roam freely on the streets of Bucharest, with an average of 1 stray dog for every 31 residents of Bucharest.[4]

The issue has not only been a heated subject of debate in Bucharest, but also on a nationwide scale.[5]

Stray dogs using a crosswalk in Bucharest, late 2011

Background[edit]

Feral puppies in Bucuresti

The problem has been created as a result of the systematization, a policy imposed during the Communist regime that ruled Romania for decades.[6]

The problem escalated in 2004, when the legislative framework that allowed the euthanasia of unclaimed stray dogs was repealed.[7][8]

On 10 September 2013, the Parliament of Romania approved the Stray Dogs Euthanasia Law with an absolute majority.[9]

On 24 September 2013, the Constitutional Court of Romania has deemed the law to be in compliance with the Constitution of Romania.[10]

On 25 September 2013, the President of Romania signed the Stray Dogs Euthanasia Law.[11]

Prior to 25 September 2013 (see below), the legislative framework of Romania did not allow the euthanasia of unclaimed stray dogs. The standard procedure stated that stray dogs were to be captured by an animal control officer. The dogs would then be taken to animal shelters operated independently by animal rights NGOs.[12] At the shelter, the dogs were due to be sterilized and - if no one legally adopted them - they would be sent back on the streets or sent abroad for adoption.[13][14][15]

Incidents[edit]

Dog bites occur on a regular basis as a result of the stray dog situation. In 2012 alone, 16,192 people were bitten by dogs in Bucharest. Out of these, 3,300 were children.[16]

However, an even more alarming situation is that of death occurring as a direct result of dog bites. At least three deaths have occurred in Bucharest as a result of dog packs biting citizens. Those who died were either senior members of society or children.[17]

The issue of stray dogs gained international attention in 2006, when a Japanese citizen was bitten by dogs on Victoria Square. The man died as a result of hemorrhagic shock caused by one of the many dog bites that severed an artery.[18] The dog that was determined to have bitten the man was adopted by a German family and died of old age in April 2013.[19]

In January 2011, a Romanian woman was lethally bitten by a dog. She died as a result of hemorrhagic shock, also caused by a dog bite that severed an artery.[20]

Death of Ionuț Anghel[edit]

The situation escalated rapidly on 2 September 2013, when a four year old boy was eaten alive[21][22] by a stray dog in the proximity of a park in Bucharest. The event has caused an instant outcry in the Romanian society.[23] His death led to a series of changes in the legislative framework that allowed the euthanasia of stray dogs in an easier manner.[24][25]

The child was playing together with his six year old brother, away from adult supervision. The two children were playing near private property, when a pack of dogs from a gypsy camp suddenly attacked the young boy. Since there were no adults around, his six year old brother ran away to get help from his grandmother (the woman was looking after them). By the time the grandmother arrived at the scene together with the police, the boy was found dead and disfigured in a bush.

Two days later, it was revealed that the dog that bit the child was registered to an animal rights NGO.[26][27]

The reactions to his death were almost unanimously that of shock. The accident has been listed as breaking news on news channels in Romania for multiple days. Protests have been organized - both in favor[28] and against[29] - the stray dogs euthanasia laws.[30]

The President of Romania urged the legislature to establish a set of laws urgently.[31] The Prime Minister of Romania has stated that he will support the Stray Dogs Euthanasia Law.[32] As a result of the death, an investigation has been started; those who will be pronounced guilty by a court of law will be sanctioned according to penal law.

Involvement[edit]

The issue of stray dogs in Bucharest has multiple parties, each bearing an interest in the issue.

Asociația Cuțu Cuțu[edit]

Asociația Cuțu Cuțu (literally translated Doggie Doggie Association in English) is a Romanian NGO that focuses on animal rights, and more specifically, stray dogs. It was founded in 2002 and has been lobbying against euthanasia, and other laws concerning stray dogs. It has been created as a response to the abuse stray dogs are facing.[33]

In September 2013, an incident concerning a stray dog bite that led to the death of a four year old boy[34] has brought ACC back under national and international media attention.[35][36]

Controversy[edit]

On May 4, 2012, Cuțu Cuțu has issued a press release, which has been flagged as "shocking", "terrible" and has been associated with Reductio ad Hitlerum by the Romanian mass-media and bloggers.[37][38][39] The press release compared dog shelters with the Nazi concentration camps. Two days after the press release, the Association has released another press statement, which mentioned the fact that they are not antisemitic and have "plenty of Romanian Jewish friends". Furthermore, it has been mentioned that what they wanted to point out is that the authorities treat dogs the way Jews were treated in 1940.[40]

The National Council for Combating Discrimination (CNCD) has self-mandated and is going to start an inquiry.[41]

Later in May 2012, the head of the Municipality of Bucharest, Sorin Oprescu, has repealed the accusations. He said that his aim is to sterilize the stray dogs and take them off the streets.[42] The media has responded positively towards his statement.[43]

Vier Pfoten[edit]

Vier Pfoten (Four paws in English) - an Austrian animal rights NGO - has been actively involved in the adoption of animals that have been allegedly abused or mistreated in some way, including street dogs. [44]

BBFWPA[edit]

In late 2013, the Brigitte Bardot Foundation for the Welfare and Protection of Animals (BBFWPA) has taken NVDA as a result of the animal abuse. Bardot has sent two open letters addressed to either the President of Romania or the European Commission.

The first letter was sent in order to "denounce" the Stray Dogs Euthanasia Law. She deemed the project to be a "project of systematic extermination".[45] Furthermore, Bardot appealed to the "majority" in order to find a "solution approved by the European Union, from which Romania has been part of since 2007". The content of the letter has been received with criticism and skepticism in Romania.[46] In response, the President of Romania has responded by saying that "Brigitte Bardot was beautiful during the reign of the Kings of France".[47]

The second later was addressed to the "president of the unfortunate Romanian nation". Bardot stated that the President of Romania is "the successor of Nicolae Ceaușescu". In the letter, she asked "where the money from the European Commission was" and "where the 3.42 million vaccinated dogs were". Bardot said that "the dogs are paying with their life as a result of a corrupt management".[48] She ended the letter by saying that she had "pleasant memories about Romania", but that she is "currently comparing it to hell".[49]

In Popular Culture[edit]

Prominent San Francisco-based author, Peter Byrne, has chosen "The Dogs in Bucharest" as the title for his forthcoming memoir. Simon & Schuster currently hold publishing rights to the work, with a release expected early 2015 under the company's Free Press imprint.

Bibliography[edit]

  1. ^ How Bucharest ended one of the world's worst stray dog problems
  2. ^ How many stray dogs are there in Bucharest?
  3. ^ How the stray dog became Bucharest's trade mark
  4. ^ The city that went to the dogs
  5. ^ How not to hold a public debate on the stray dogs problem
  6. ^ Die Welt: since Ceausescu knocked down the Historical Centrum, stray dogs terrorize Bucharest
  7. ^ The legality of the euthanasia law: CCR
  8. ^ Ponta accuses the former mayor of Bucharest - Basescu - of not solving the stray dog issue
  9. ^ Stray dogs euthanasia law voted in legislative assembly
  10. ^ Will we get rid of stray dogs?
  11. ^ The stray dog euthanasia law is constitutional
  12. ^ Dogcatchers catching dogs
  13. ^ Where do the stray dogs end up?
  14. ^ Stray dogs, sacrificed at the expense of our negligence
  15. ^ Der Spiegel: Bucharest stray dogs hunt
  16. ^ Over 16,000 people were bitten by dogs in 2012
  17. ^ How many more people need to die before you do your job?
  18. ^ The news of the dead Jap circles the globe
  19. ^ What happened to the dog that killed the Japanese man?
  20. ^ The woman killed by stray dogs was buried today
  21. ^ Shocking: new details about the death of Ionut, the boy eaten by dogs
  22. ^ Mr. Mayor, we brought you the photo of the boy
  23. ^ Four year old dead after alleged stray dog attack near park in Bucharest
  24. ^ The stray dog euthanasia law has been promulgated
  25. ^ In Romania, the stray dog law has been signed
  26. ^ The dog that tore a child apart belongs to an animal rights NGO
  27. ^ The dog that killed a child in Bucharest belongs to an NGO
  28. ^ 1000 people gathered at the protest about the death of Ionut
  29. ^ Protests at CCR against law
  30. ^ Why street pressure only works effectively in some cases
  31. ^ TB is asking the government to find a solution
  32. ^ Ponta votes YES on the stray dog euthanasia law
  33. ^ Cutu Cutu Activity 2003-2005
  34. ^ Stray dogs kill 4 year old boy near park in Romanian capital
  35. ^ Asociatia Cutu Cutu: the President is misinforming, the sterilization law never existed
  36. ^ Brigitte Bardot in protest over Bucharest dog cull
  37. ^ Shocking press release from Asociatia Cutu Cutu
  38. ^ Adolf Hitler, don't be sad, Cutu Cutu is racist
  39. ^ ACC: dogs are not jews, to be shipped to Auschwitz
  40. ^ Comeback to the press release
  41. ^ CNCD is self-mandating the case about the Cutu Cutu release
  42. ^ Sorin Oprescu: some accuse me of making the shelters Auschwitz for dogs
  43. ^ Mihaela Radulescu: I no longer want to see stray dogs on the streets
  44. ^ [1] Association Vier Pfoten]
  45. ^ Bridget Bardot strikes again: she sent a letter to Băsescu
  46. ^ Although she knows nothing about the situation, Bardot denounces the initiative
  47. ^ Basescu, completely untactful
  48. ^ Bardot, in a letter addressed to the president of the unfortunate Romanian nation
  49. ^ Bardot, a new letter to the president