News 15 Mar 13

Wild Dogs Still Plague Romanian Capital

Despite official promises to slash the number of stray dogs, a recent census shows that around 65,000 still live on the streets of Bucharest.

Marian Chiriac

Arguments about the real number of stray dogs in Bucharest - long a matter of dispute - have been solved following the first stray dog census ever conducted.

It appears to show that the number of dogs living on the streets of Bucharest comes to 64,704. The review by the Authority for Animals Supervision and Protection, ASPA, was conducted in September.

The city is home to 1.6 million people and the risk the dogs pose to human health is considerable. Around 10,000 people seek anti-rabies treatments every year after being bitten by stray dogs, about 2,000 of whom are children.

More than 6,500 stray dogs were sterilized in Bucharest last year, at a cost of some 200,000 euro.

Despite such efforts, the authorities in Bucharest have failed to make more significant progress in tackling the problem. They complain that their campaign to spay and neuter dogs lacks funding.

Polls say that many people in Bucharest now want radical measures taken, including putting dogs down, and blame the authorities for not addressing the issue.

For their part, animal rights activists argue that neutering stray dogs is less expensive than killing them, as well as kinder.

In November 2011, a controversial law was passed allowing the local authorities to catch and kill packs of stray dogs roaming towns.

Two month later, however, the Constitutional Court annulled it.

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