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News 03 Sep 13

Romania PM Speaks Out After Dogs Kill Boy

The tragic death of a boy in a Bucharest park has reignited a public debate over the hordes of wild dogs roaming the Romanian capital.

Marian Chiriac
Bucharest

Romania's Prime Minister has spoken out after a four-year-boy was mauled to death on Monday by a pack of stray dogs outside a park in Bucharest.

The dogs also attacked his older brother by two years but he is now out of danger. The boys were wandering on their own when the dogs attacked them.

The case has fired up a fresh debate about packs of stray dogs, a problem that has plagued Romania for years.

“This is a tragic event. Local authorities have to find solutions to finally tackle the longstanding unresolved problem of dogs roaming the streets,” Prime Minister Victor Ponta said.

Romanians are divided over the two main options available: euthanasia or sterilization. While many people say the authorities should be authorised to take radical measures, including putting down dogs, animal rights groups advocate neutering and spaying the dogs.

Efforts in recent years to sterilize the dogs and return them to the streets have proven inefficient.

More than 6,500 stray dogs were sterilized in Bucharest last year, at a cost of some 200,000 euro. Meanwhile the local authorities face severe overcrowding at city dog pounds and lack the funding needed to build and run more shelters.

Official data say around 1,100 people were bitten in Bucharest by stray dogs in the first four months of 2013.

A recent census shows that around 65,000 still live on the streets of Bucharest.

In November 2011, a controversial law was passed allowing the local authorities to catch and kill packs of stray dogs. Two month later, however, the Constitutional Court annulled it.

The problem of strays in Romania worsened in the late 1980s, when former the Communist dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, ordered city officials to demolish a large proportion of the houses in Bucharest in order to build new towerblocks and boulevards.

Many dog owners simply abandoned their pets when they were forced to accept re-housing in flats, and the animals ran wild and multiplied.

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