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Charities slam Romanian stray dog cull


A Romanian stray pictured on the streets of Bucharest


LEADING ANIMAL charities have joined forces to urge people to contact the Romanian Embassy in the UK, following the decision understood to have been taken to euthanase all street dogs in Bucharest, following the death of a Japanese citizen.

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, Dogs Trust and North Shore Animal League, in conjunction with Wetnose Animal Aid have expressed enormous sympathy for the family and friends of the man who died, but say that the culling of street dogs will not provide a solution to this tragedy. It was an isolated incident and it has not yet been confirmed whether the dog was a street or community dog.

The businessman bled to death in central Bucharest after a dog bit him in the leg, severing a vital artery.

The charities say that only humane way of dealing with the over population of street dogs is to use the catch, neuter, release method, in conjunction with an educational programme, which is working so well in neighbouring Oradea.

SOS Dogs Oradea was set up in 2003 by Dogs Trust, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and US charity North Shore Animal League, with the aim over time to make street dogs a thing of the past. The success of the project demonstrates that there is a safe and humane way to reduce the street dog population.

Dana Costin, spokeswoman for the Romanian animal welfare charity, ROLDA, commented, "the National Authorities declared war on the stray dogs as soon as the tragedy unfolded, although there was no proof that the man was bitten by a stray dog."

The charities have pointed out that it is vital that the Authorities understand that the street dogs problem must be solved in a humane and civilised way, Bucharest’s mayor Adriean Videanu announced immediately after the incident two weeks ago that the time stray dogs could be kept in shelters before being put down would be shortened.

The 100,000 stray dogs in the capital are considered a legacy of former communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu's decision to demolish many houses in the 1980s. Dogs were abandoned by people rehoused in small flats.

In 2001, the Brigit Bardot Foundation pledged to donate £85,000 to fund mass sterilisation designed to save stray dogs from death, but former Bucharest mayor Traian Basescu, now president, abandoned the programme after a month and ordered culling to continue.

Romanian welfare campaigner Lulia Mihaela has appealed to dog owners around the world for donations to build more shelters and to provide much-needed veterinary care for the strays.

"This is the second time in the last 7 years that we need help from outside of country," said Mihaela. "Unfortunately, is the second time when the officials start slaughtering the stray dogs.

Nobody cares about making shelters for them, and now the officials kill the poor animals. Please can you help us? Every donation pledged will help us to work to save the dogs."

Mihaela explained how hysteria was whipped up by the media following the Japanese businessman’s death: "Everything started when the TV news ran bulletins about a Japanese businessman who was bitten by a stray dog. The authorities started a real war against the poor dogs...They caught 1,000 dogs, 70 were adopted, 200 killed, and the rest of them are waiting the end in the city shelters in a maximum 2 weeks."

In a bizarre twist, not widely reported outside of Romania, it seems that the dog alleged to have killed the businessman was also caught and later adopted for rehoming.

"It seems that the dog, named ‘Bosquito’ is the most gentle and timid dog on the earth, not to mention quite small," adds Miheala. "Bosquito will be released, because he has been adopted, but the city hall is fighting for a new law here. This law will reduce the days the dogs remain in the city shelters before they are destroyed from 14 days, to 3 days. So the dogs will be killed not in 14 days, but in 3 days!"

The charities urge the Romanian Government to take action and put an end to this truly appalling method of population control. To voice your opinion in support of our campaign, please contact the Romanian Embassy in the UK:

His Excellency
Mr Dan Ghibernea
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Romanian Embassy in the UK
Arundel House
4 Palace Green
London W8 4QD

* Julia Mihaela can be contacted by e-mail at: iarina777@yahoo.com