Elana Pisani, exclusive to Global Animal
Last month, Romania passed a law to legally euthanize stray dogs. The law came to pass after a child was killed from wounds sustained by stray dogs in Bucharest, and allows for local governments to euthanize stray dogs that are caught and not adopted in two weeks.
On Wednesday, September 25, courts decided to uphold the law. However, international protests have sparked debate over the mass slaughter of these animals.
Romania’s government points out that stray dogs can be dangerous and says there are about 64,000 strays in Bucharest alone.
“You cannot postpone a decision between a kid’s life and a dog’s life. It is very clear that the decision should be to protect people’s life,” said Prime Minister Victor Ponta in a statement to Reuters.
But critics say the government itself is to blame for the high number of stray dogs in Bucharest.
In the 1980s, communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu had old buildings torn down in order to build the parliament building. Many of the people who had lived in these houses had to give up their dogs when forced to live in small apartments. The animals continued to breed in the streets and now their numbers are difficult to control.
Aside from the government being responsible for creating the stray problem, critics suggest that the government has not tried to fully implement other, more humane measures to address the issue. The stray dog law has enraged citizens of other EU countries and have caused widespread protests.
Rudd Tombrock, Director of the WSPA of Europe had the following to say about the law.
“The mass culling of dogs lacks compassion and defies the values and respect for life we would normally expect from EU members. The European community has the task of protecting those values, and WSPA will rally all parties to act according and call for accountability of those who do not.”
Animal rights activists are concerned that the law is not only inhumane but also ineffective. FOUR PAWS, an international animal welfare group, believes more effective measures include adoption programs, systematic sterilization, microchip identification, mandatory registration, and taking a hard line on abandonment.
Since the law has passed and been approved by the courts, protesters are turning their focus to local governments, urging them not to utilize the law and consider other methods before euthanasia. The law only gives local shelters and governments the option to kill the dogs after 14 days of capture, and animal activists hope they will instead use euthanasia as a last resort.