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Ruthless, Rudimentary Romania Disgraces Itself Again.
By Jade Pepper
This week in Romania a four year old boy was attacked and fatally wounded by a stray dog. The incident happened after the little boy wandered out of the park he was playing in and ventured into an insecure fenced area where the dog was.
What a terrible wake up call for Romania. What a devastating outcome to their incompetent and lazy tackling of a thirty year old problem. Romania now has some three million strays and not one comprehensive strategy for dealing with them. Funds are provided to humanely euthanize and neuter these dogs, but Romania’s corrupt system pockets the money and does not deliver the service. If they did, they wouldn’t have a stray dog problem, and the terrible events of this week would likely not have happened.
Unfortunately, in a typically knee-jerk reaction, the Romanian President has spoken on live TV asking for emergency powers to overrule the law that currently protects healthy dogs from euthanasia. He is calling for a mass killing spree to put a quick end to the stray dog problem.
We are now receiving information about civilians taking to the streets in true mob-culture mentally, beating to death any poor dog they find, poisoning it, shooting it…you name it. No doubt fueled by the frenzied media showing propaganda footage of dogs eating raw meat and gnawing on bones; the suggestion being this is human flesh and these dogs are ferocious beasts that rule the streets and squeeze humans out of their own cities. In actual fact, and it is ACTUAL FACT, because the K-9 Angels have been to Romania many times to tend to street dogs…these animals are either petrified of humans, or they are friendly and devastatingly pet-like. A dog attack is tremendously rare. There have been three human deaths caused by a dog in the last seven years in Romania. Three million dogs, and three deaths. That is a 1:1,000,000 human-death-to-dog ratio. In 2009 alone, 421 murders took place in Romania. The data taken for seven years puts the figure at 3,288, that’s a rate of 22 murders per million people per year, and 154 murders per million people over seven years (UNdata). When you consider the murder rate in Romania, or anywhere for that matter, it puts into perspective just how small of a threat a dog is to a human compared to the threat humans are to themselves.
But that is not even my, or the, point. The point is that the Romanian ‘dog problem’ is actually a ‘human problem.’ The stray dog situation has been left unchecked for far too long, and now a little boy has died. This incident might have happened anyway, even without the presence of three million strays, but the odds are undoubtedly higher. Here in the UK we are not exempt from a dog attack every now and then. Nor are we exempt from car accidents, and medical error. Are we to burn all the cars and sack all the doctors? Romania’s response to this incident is as sickening as my comparison is ludicrous.
We have seen footage this week which is wholly unacceptable. Dogs being poisoned, and beaten, and piled up. People standing around watching and cheering as dogs gasp their final breaths: bleeding, broken and poisoned. They have stoned animals to death in the street: stoned and killed a mother and her puppies. This stuff is being shared around on various sites, posted on Facebook…are these people actually proud that they are this ignorant and primitive?
Is this what the President and Romania mean when they say ‘lift the ban on euthanasia’? Is euthanasia some euphemism for killing by any means? Well, yes, I’m afraid it seems to be just that. Far from staying true to the ancient Greek meaning ‘good death’, euthanasia in Romania appears to mean indiscriminate killing by any methods. Cremating a dog alive, poisoning, injecting petrol into the heart (or some other fatal toxin), or simply clubbing a dog to death; euthanasia means butcher with impunity.
Are we REALLY back here again?
Let’s rewind to 22nd November 2011 when the indiscriminate killing of all stray dogs throughout Romania became completely legal following the Democratic Liberal Party’s successful lifting of the 2008 ban on euthanasia, and passed a devastating bill whereby dogs could be killed in their thousands by any means. Remember the massacre of May 2012, when the state run shelter in Botosani carried out an act of genocide? The secret footage which showed the world the disgraceful, savage and uncivilised practice of hacking dogs to death in their hundreds overnight?
Did it solve the problem? Did they kill every last dog and enjoy dog free streets?
No, they did not. Because all of this is under the pretense that euthanasia actually works in reducing the number of strays. As clearly ascertained by thorough research, ‘In none of the study areas did the elimination of dogs by any method (catching, shooting or other) have any significant long-term effect on dog population size’ (The Report of W.H.O. Consultation on Dog Ecology Studies related to Rabies Control). So, while there are fertile dogs wandering around at large, regardless of how reduced their numbers may be, within one cycle they will have easily quadrupled.
We are all by now familiar with the staggering statistic that just one female and her offspring can produce 67,000 puppies in just six years, so it is easy to see how quickly the streets will fill back up even if Romania did manage to eliminate most of its 3,000,000 strays. Then there is the added issue that Romania has very outdated ideas regarding sterilization of even its pets. Most are unaltered and many of these pets are then let out by their owners to roam the streets each day. So, re-population is unavoidable unless Romania embraces the spay/neuter/return strategy both on the streets and in their homes.
International charities have offered to support the government in implementing a program, but they are constantly rejected. Instead, they keep up the pretense of tackling the problem themselves, when in actuality they have deliberately kept the problem as a cash cow. The service is invoiced for, but the service does not take place. The funds allocated for the humane management of the dog problem is redirected at State level, turning the stray dog ‘problem’ into a ‘problem’ worth keeping. Claiming costs for euthanasia and shelter at around 50 Euros per dog makes their ever growing populations very good for business.
So why are the people taking to the streets to persecute the dogs, when it is themselves, and their corrupt government to blame? Why aren’t the people taking to the streets to request a better return on their tax Euros and demand their government to actually, finally, do something? Why has a little boy’s death still not woken this nation up to realise that it is they that are failing. That the dogs’ being there in the first place is their fault and a direct result of their irresponsibility. And that it is their fault, not the dogs’, that a child lost it’s life this week.
And where is our OUTRAGE? Why are we not bombarding our MEPs with demands for Romania to act like a European country if it is to be one? Why are we not flooding the council and government offices of Romania with the same request, and using social media to target this issue and show Romania that the world is watching it disgrace itself?
One Romanian person wrote a flippant comment on a news article reporting the incident. She said that the dogs should just be exterminated and if any stray-free country has an objection then we can go and rescue them. Is she suggesting we should take our fair share of the Romanian strays? Or that we should clear up their mess? Or is she suggesting we have no idea what we are talking about because we do not have three million stray dogs as a source of national infamy? I would argue that our having no stray dogs in this country makes us somewhat the experts. There isn’t some geographical, inescapable plight that forces this situation on the Romanians, because the Ukraine, Bulgaria and scores of other countries have the same issue. The difference is countries like Britain have a completely different approach and conscience when it comes to animal welfare. Joining the EU should mean rising to meet higher standards, not making the rest of us stoop to understand lesser ones. It is time we all demanded better from Romania, and got together to force them, and then help them, to implement a proper stray dog solution. Because surely we are all sick of heart and head of hearing stories such as this?
Who are K-9 Angels?
K-9 Angels is a UK based registered charity (no: 1150314) set up by TV presenter Anneka Svenska, Pop singer Pola Pospieszalska and Model Victoria Eisermann in 2011 to address the stray dog situation in Romania and the canine victims of the dog meat trade in Thailand.
K-9 Angels provides a much needed network link between dog rescuers in these countries and prospective adopters in the UK, as well as funding for spay and neuter programmes, food and material aid, shelters, medical and veterinary aid.
K-9 Angels prides itself on its lack of discrimination in helping all manner of rescues in these countries and also in its rehoming process which vets each person on their individual needs.
K-9 Angels would like to branch out to many more countries worldwide in the future in order to help tackle the global stray dog problem.