Romanian pound dog massacre was a test of pending legislation, veterinarian charges
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2011:
BOTOSANI, Romania–A May 10, 2011 dog massacre that shocked
Romania was undertaken as a political trial balloon, Bucharest
veterinarian Liviu Gaita alleged to news media.
The killing occurred in Botosani, a small city in the
extreme northeastern corner of Romania, about six hours’ drive from
Bucharest. Volunteers who fed the dogs at the Botosani city pound
arrived on the morning of May 10 to find that more than 230 dogs had
already been killed by muncipal workers, purportedly by order of
mayor Catalin Mugurel Flutur. The killing was still underway, said
to be necessitated by a disease outbreak that the volunteers were
unaware of. “The volunteers called the TV stations and the police
but nothing happened,” said an anonymous message distributed within
minutes via Facebook. “They were in shock and tried to get out of
the shelter the last few puppies that were alive. They were
assaulted and offended by the guards.”
The message, accompanied by many photos, was amplified by
recipients as far away as Laval, Quebec, Canada–which is
Botosani’s sister city.
Rumors held that the dogs were killed to dispose of evidence
that Botosani pound staff and/or city officials had diverted the
dogs’ food to fattening pigs. Gaita acknowledged that Romanian
pounds are often corrupt, but pointed out that, “Some political
forces still hope to pass through Parliament a bill,” PL 912,
“which allows the killing of strays in local pounds,” currently
illegal, “and they want to see how the people would react to
implementation of this ‘final solution.’ They wanted to see how the
public opinion would mobilize,” Gaita charged.
Backed by Romanian president Traian Basescu, PL 912
initially appeared positioned to become law without effective
opposition. As mayor of Bucharest from 2000 to 2004, Basescu ordered
and presided over the most aggressive street dog culling in Romanian
history prominently opposed by Liviu Gaita. As Gaita predicted,
the Bucharest street dog population was not lastingly diminished.
PL 912 was derailed after intensive lobbying by the National
Federation for Animal Rights Protection in Romania and by the
opposition of Princess Maja von Hohenzollern, granddaughter of King
Ferdinand I (1865-1927), who ruled Romania from 1914 until his death.
“If I were a dog in Romania, I’d euthanize politicians,”
von Hohenzollern declared.
Returned to committee by a vote of 70-37 on March 8, 2011,
PL 912 remains stalled, Bucharest activist Carmen Arsene e-mailed to
ANIMAL PEOPLE two days before the Botosani massacre.
“Catch-and-kill has already been tried and has failed in
every town in Romania, and in many other countries,” observed
Foundation for the Protection of Community Dogs founder and president
Robert Smith. The FPCD street dog sterilization and adoption program
in Oradea, in the far northwest of Romania, is the nation’s
largest. “In Oradea,” Smith said, “neuter/eturn, implemented by
FPCD since 2004, has reduced the number of dogs on the streets to
about 15% of the starting level, despite constant dumping of fertile
dogs from other towns.”