BUCURESTI

Bucharest - March 2009 - a light at the end of the tunnel

The problem is not new but it finally reached the Bucharest city council agenda.

The origin of the conflict, to be found in the communist past, is well-known as well as the main responsible party involved in the destruction of entire house districts to make way for the soon-to-be-built civic centre. Forced to move to new blocks of flats, people had to abandon their homes as well as their best friends, their dogs. Left to perdition, dogs created their own community and, over a period of twenty years, they were present on territories all over Bucharest.

The problem became extremely acute and had to be taken seriously and debated in the Romanian Parliament.

As a result, our representatives voted the law, formerly proposed by senator Marinescu, aiming to solve this serious matter. Unfortunately, nothing to resemble a sustainable result happened. Two shelters are insufficient for all stray dogs. At the shelter in

Chiajna the situation became thoroughly dramatic and the Theodor Palladi dog shelter is filled above conceivable. As a consequence many stray dogs from Chiajna again live in the street, sharing territories with other already there. It would be impossible to take the census of dogs for the simple fact that they are constantly moving in search of food or shelter. Many of them settle near blocks, warehouses, building sites, supermarkets and, of course, garbage pits. Only a few have the chance to be adopted or live in dog houses, built by compassionate people near their blocks. Nevertheless they stray alone or gather in packs, the latter becoming real public threats.

People who do not love or accept dogs became a major problem to be taken into consideration as well. Even if the law does not allow stray dogs to be euthanized, still a great number of people want them to be put down. Therefore they resort to extreme and abominable ways of punishing the poor animals, by stone throwing, poisoning, crippling or even shooting them.

It is important to mention that the above do not occur as merely isolated incidents.

Television channels obstinately present stray dog attacks on children or passers - by and statistics of people subjected to anti-rabies treatment. There are cases of aggressive dogs but the great majority of stray dogs try hard to survive and win the affection of people, following them on the street not to bite but to receive a gentle word, a stroke or something to eat. They especially have the right to be considered innocent as they are not able to defend or speak for themselves.

Cruelty towards animals does not have territorial limits. Even in small towns, where the number of stray dogs is limited, horrible events occur. I will mention only three of them here. A newspaper in Vaslui, “The Truth in Vaslui” presents the case of a young owner of a rottweiler, who provokes his animal against a poor stray dog, turned to shreds in an instant. Moreover, the scene takes place in the presence and oddly enough, the applauses of members of the Community Police and municipal employees in charge of inventorying stray dogs.

Another newspaper, “Rondul de Sibiu” (The Round in Sibiu )” presents photographs and an article about a group of wild teenagers, in Medias, who beat a stray dog with crowbars and after that strangle it by the fence of the skateboard track.

The journalists at “Informatia de Severin( The Severin News) complain that they are not permitted access to the municipal dog shelter. This is not a surprise, the journalists report, given the fact that fifty stray dogs were taken and then abandoned in the Motoratului woods, the village of Breznita de Ocol , left to die of starvation and cold. Hungry and weak, they crawled to the village Schitu de Jos, in search of food and shelter. They were all shot by the “brave” village hunters.

Solutions are being sought...

The subject of stray dogs has been debated for years, still they have not found a solution.

Mass spay and neuter projects, adoption and building modern shelters are real answers to a real problem, which other European countries solved years ago.

There is no use of myriads of loud voiced but inefficient NGO-s, a law exists and has to be applied and the problem could be solved with minimal financial efforts. It appears that nobody in charge of funds really wants to solve the problem on the account that stray dogs bring profit for a few important administratives. Stray dogs are allocated important budgetary sums but nobody controls the mysterious ways money is spent.

Finally, the mayor of Bucharest decided they should consult the people by launching a project decision, subjected to public debate until February 13th, 2009 .

Hundreds of emails were sent on the city council website, but only by animal owners who voted against the spay and neuter project. Their reasons were dubious. For example, one of the voters appeals to the Civil Code, asserting that by the obligation of neutering his animal, he is denied his lawful right to the fruit of his owned goods (the puppies). Generally, people of this kind abandon the puppies in parks or far away streets. Furthermore, if this sad episode takes place twice a year, the number of stray dogs will gradually rise.

Many people were expected to attend the city council meeting and to vote pro or against the spay and neuter project. We can fairly say that people are braver when chatting on forums rather than when taking action to solve the real problem. As a result only a few were present at the conference and almost all of them voted against the spay and neuter project, considering it barbaric, a Nazis criminal measure with high risks of mortality.

Sadly, people are not able or simply refuse to understand that mass sterilization, which the mayor himself has insisted upon for a year, is the most honest, efficient and salutary measure for the community.

The question of the spay and neuter project was on the agenda of the city council meeting, in February, the 27th. It was then withdrawn without further notice or explanation. Mrs. Marcela Lungu, president of the Association “Cutu, Cutu” explains that the city counselors ignored the valuable information and advice from specialists and the A.S.A(The Association of the Supervision of Stray Dogs and Cats) or the NGO-s present there and they also treated the content of the project superficially, showing their lack of vision and understanding. Marcela Lungu further states that the city counselors eagerly expressed their disapproval in rude terms.

The mayor, a more authorized voice regarding the matter in question, uselessly tried to explain that postponing the decision would only rise the number of animals on streets and consequently affect the safety of citizens. Subjected to vote, the discussion upon the project was postponed. There is no conclusion until the project is decided upon firmly in order to solve the problem once and for all.

Emil Munteanu
Article published in the newspaper of Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry - translation