Why dogs are killed on the street

Dispute over the killing of street dogs

Street dogs attacked a playing four-year-old boy in Bucharest in early September who died as a result of the dog bites. Coroners and prosecutors have no doubt that the dog attack was the cause of death. After the dramatic incident, the Romanian parliament urgently passed a new law that allows authorities in Romania to kill stray dogs: the municipalities have to look after captured dogs in the animal shelter for 14 days and can then euthanize them if no one is found who wants to take them in . Before that, abandoned animals were only allowed to be killed if they were terminally ill or aggressive.

The Constitutional Court has declared the law to be constitutional. Romanian animal rights activists protest against this and showed their displeasure at a demonstration in Bucharest. There was also criticism from abroad: the German designer and animal rights activist Maja von Hohenzollern described Romania as a "shame of Europe" because of the new law.

"So far there have been no official massacres of dogs," says Bucharest animal protection activist Kuki B─ârbuceanu from the international organization "Four Paws", but after the law was passed, a few dozen cases of dog killings by private individuals were documented. That is unacceptable.

Several fatalities after dog bites in Romania

Animal rights activists demonstrate against the law in Bucharest

Gabriel Praun, the spokesman for "Vier-Pfoten" in Vienna, sees a need for action in any case. "We are on the side of the majority of the people in Romania in that we are also seeking a solution to the street dog problem."

Because this has serious proportions: There are said to be several hundred thousand street dogs in Romanian cities and municipalities, authorities estimate the number at around 65,000 in the capital alone. There, the anti-rabies center at the Institute for Infectious Diseases "Matei Bals" registered 10,000 vaccinations after dog bites this year alone - last year there were 16,000 biting incidents in Bucharest. The publicist Iulian Leca recently wrote in a comment for the Romanian news portal ziare.com: "The street dogs have long since conquered the cities of Romania. Especially at night, it is they who have power on the streets, not those paid by the state Law enforcement officer. "

The four-year-old boy is not the first victim of dog bites in Romania: In 2012, a pensioner died in the north of the country after a dog attack, two months later stray dogs killed a six-year-old in an eastern Romanian village. In January 2011, Bucharest street dogs attacked an employee of a recycling company, and three days later she died of serious injuries. And in January 2006 a Japanese businessman bled to death in Bucharest after a dog bit him in the back of the knee and severed an artery in the process.

Animal rights activists are in favor of sterilizing street dogs

There are also many stray dogs in Ukraine

Romania is not an isolated case: In almost all other countries in the region - especially in Ukraine, Bulgaria and Serbia - there are very many street dogs. Ukraine relied on the mass killing of dogs in the run-up to the 2012 European Football Championship.

After the country came under pressure from international animal rights activists, the killing program was largely discontinued. The government issued stricter animal welfare rules. Western animal welfare organizations are increasingly relying on the sterilization of street dogs in large cities such as Kiev, Lemberg and Odessa. Sterilization, says four paws spokesman Gabriel Paun, is a more effective means than killing the street dogs. Sterilized dogs can also be released back onto the street because they are less aggressive.

In Romania, too, there are such sterilization programs in individual cities. This significantly reduced the number of street dogs. However, there are hardly any larger animal shelters, and cities and municipalities do not provide enough staff for the scale of the problem. Bucharest employed only twelve dog catchers until the little boy's death, shortly afterwards the number was increased to 44.

In addition, local authorities repeatedly come under suspicion of corruption - according to media reports, a lot of money intended for sterilization measures is supposed to disappear into private pockets.