Image credit: FOUR PAWS UK
For many years, the population of stray animals in Romania has been rising; that is, until 2014 when the government ordered a series of mass killings, euthanizing more than 300,000 animals (mainly dogs) to deal with the problem.
Ever since Nicolae Ceaușescu was voted president of the Socialist Republic of Romania in 1965, he wanted to make an industrial evolved Romania. Families and individuals from the countryside were forced to the cities, houses were destroyed and apartment complexes were implanted with many families in one apartment. This resulted in families leaving their dogs and cats on the streets, because there wasn’t enough room, or because of other complications. The problem escalated further, until 1988, when something drastic happened.
In 1988, the mayor of Bucharest decided that the only way to stop the problem was to kill all of the stray animals across Romania. Other cities then started to follow suit and for more than 20 years (until 2008), thousands of stray animals were chased, slaughtered, shot, poisoned, hung, burnt and left in crowded kennels to starve and die in painful ways. However even after all of theses mass killings, the population refused to diminish.
In 2008, a new rule was put into place where no healthy animal shall be put under euthanasia, it also supported spaying and neutering to control the population. But this rule posed a new problem, shelters and pounds now had an overwhelming number of dogs and cats that could not be put under euthanasia, and instead their deaths were caused from of disease, infection, starvation and thirst. Despite this law being put into play, dogs continue to disappear from shelters and pounds, with the most common method being poisoning, because of the overpopulation. The police also have no control on the law and can’t enforce it, and many officials around Romania are oblivious to the new law, as stated by koirienystavat.com.
In 2013, a little boy in Bucharest was supposedly attacked and killed by stray dogs, according to Romanian animal rights group Friends of Homeless Dogs. This led to the current President, Traian Băsescu, and the press to grow hatred towards the poor creatures. Băsescu succeeded in pushing through a law declaring that if a stray was captured, it will be killed after 14 days, if the mayor does pay for the dogs to go to a communal shelter. The worst about the whole ordeal is that the strays aren’t killed humanely. Even worse is that the law now encouraged the capture and killing of strays, as money was given to the pounds for the killings. The President started a campaign that was mainly supported by uneducated people that didn’t know anything about the problem, that encourages citizens to kill strays.
The only way to really limit the population is to sterilize the population, stated Dr. Andrew Rowan, CEO of Humane Society International, in an interview with WordPress. “Countries with a large number of stray animals need to start their population control programs through mass sterilization campaigns before shelters can be considered. Sterilizing street dogs and returning them to their territories on the streets allows for a natural reduction in their population numbers over time, and maintains the most socialized dogs on the streets with the public.” He also suggests that microchips in strays to keep track of all of them, and the only way to do that is to better educate people on this topic.
Nowadays, strays are still a problem, but some issues are getting better. Some are getting worse, and some haven’t changed. When asked about what the government was doing to fix the problem, local shelter vet and adoption organizer responded, “I can’t answer that without being rude. Let’s keep it at, they are not doing anything.”