Romanian Court Hands Down Death Sentence for Stray Dogs

Romanian Court Hands Down Death Sentence for Stray  Dogs

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.

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