The stray dog business in Romania
Between 2001 and 2011 the Romanian animal control people have killed hundreds of thousands dogs by spending tens of millions of EUROs in public funds, while the number of stray dogs only grew larger.
For example, in Brasov, although there were only 4,000 stray dogs in 2001, the dog catchers managed to “kill” about 20,000 in 8 years. The only noticeable result of the “final solution” was the emergence of a classic mechanism of siphoning off public money, put in place by the local authorities and animal protection services in Bucharest and many other cites and towns (Brasov, Arad, Constanta, Timisoara, Ramnicu Valcea, Braila, etc.), authorities that came to realize that the mere existence of the that strays is a very profitable business for the following reasons:
Under the pretext of the “stray’s terror” generous budgets were allocated. The Bucharest do catchers spent about 13 million EURO in 7 years. The dog catchers in Brasov spent about 2 million EURO in 8 years. Overall it is estimated that Romania spent between 25 and 40 million EURO on strays from 2001 until 2008.
The flexibility of the budgets
Contrary to the popular belief that fuels the anti-stray protests, the money spent on food for the strays was just a infinitesimal part of the budget, as the dog were being fed “subliminal” quantities, to quote the so called specialists from DSVA Brasov. Out of a total budget of 1,500,000 lei for 2008, the dog catchers in Brasov allocated only 5,000 lei for the dog food, less than 3%. Instead enormous gas quotas were approved. In Brasov, 4 rundown old cars with easy to tamper with mileage tracking systems were each allocated about 350-400 l of gas per month, which means each car did about 100 km/day. Land was rented for the municipality shelters, despite that fact that local authorities had land they could build on. In Brasov, the municipality paid in 8 years more than 1,500EURO/month (170,000 EURO in total) to the owners of a former swine farm that was in really bad condition and it also invested in modernizing the farm. All of this while it could have built a brand new shelter with 15,000 EURO on a land it owned.
About 100,000 lei were annually spent on tranquilizers and lethal substances, but nobody ever checked that against the number of dogs reported caught and/or euthanized. These substances were bought illegally (without prescriptions), used illegally (because the dog catchers got lazy and started to catch all dogs with tranquilizers, committing two felonies and one ?) and may have even been used or sold as drugs (Vetased, the most used tranquilizer contains ketamine, which is used as a drug and is legally considered drug since 2010).
In Brasov, the chief dog-catcher even got to buy his own jeep, a Mitubischi L200, for about 30,000 EURO, under the pretext of helping large animals, such as cows, pigs. Bears, rhinoceros or giraffes that might have wondered into the public roundabouts build by mayor Scripcaru. Rumor has it that the jeep is used in certain weekends by two local authorities in their hunting trips.
The business of gathering dogs
Several mayors with business “abilities” transformed the local animal control departments into businesses that made money by catching and killing dogs from small towns that didn’t have their own shelters or by catching the dogs in a town without shelter and “hosting” the dogs in a different city, tens of km away. The corrupt mayors became so addicted to these profits that they imposed quotas on their dog catchers: the Brasov dog catchers hunted in 4-5 counties, bringing over 120,000 lei to Brasov’s budget. Most of the dogs were exterminated in the Stupini shelter and a small number were handed over to other cities that had shelters.
The whole operation was made profitable at the price of torturing the animals and breaking the Romanian animal protection laws. After loading up the dogs and before heading for Brasov, the Brasov dog catchers would be paid per number of dogs for capture, transportation, sheltering and euthanasia.
Since they were already paid and everyone saw them leaving with the dogs, nothing (certainly not their conscience) stopped the dog catchers from releasing most of the dogs on their way back to Brasov, to make sure that the problem continues and they are called back to “help”. Any animal lover would be happy to hear that, if they didn’t know that the dogs would be caught again and again, sometimes injured in the process, and would most likely continue to multiply.
The counting of the dogs
The audit of the activity of the do catchers was a chimera. Nobody was really counting the dogs. Nobody knew how many dogs actually went through their hands, from capturing through incineration, especially since the documents for Protan (the incineration company) were filled out by the dog catchers themselves who approximated the weight of the bodies, filling in numbers with a lot of digits and even decimal points, and tried to make it match the number of dogs they claimed to have caught. It was very easy for them to claim for example they caught 5,000 dogs while in reality they caught half of that number. The dogs that (fictionally) entered the center were also supposed to (fictionally) leave the shelter. On June 25, 2009, according to the official documents, between 131 and 54 dogs were killed in Brasov. A witness and several documents point to the fact that only 90 animals were killed and that those dogs were from Victoria, Fagaras and a few other towns. In November 4, 2009, the Brasov dog catchers captured 46 dogs in Covasna. People from Covasna were told that the dogs were in the Brasov shelter and people from Brasov were told they were in the Covasna shelter, but the dogs were not found in either shelter. On June 1st 2010 the Brasov dog catchers caught 48 dogs in Sangeorgiu de Mures and transported them to the Reghin shelter. The Reghin shelter received and registered only 25 dogs.
Another way to make money was to manipulate the adoption numbers, especially the adoptions towards private shelters: adopted dogs were also counted as euthanatized. In 2008 at least 400 dogs were adopted from the Brasov dog catchers by the “Millions of friends” rescue association. In the official documents that number is 0!
Finally, another way was to modify the number of deceased dogs, by recording a smaller number than the real one and accordingly increase the number of euthanized dogs. For 2008, the shelter mortality as it resulted from official records was of 79 dogs, meaning a dog died every 4 days. In the first months of 2009, the mortality was of only 23 dogs, meaning a dog did every 8 days. In reality, the number of dogs that died in the shelter is much higher: at least 300-400 in 2008 and at least 150 in 2009. And there were also the dead dogs that were found in the city and which had to be, of course, euthanized.
Through all of these manipulations the animal control folks were gaining about 25-30 lei per dog, by either selling the substances for euthanasia or by writing fictional invoices, in complicity with folks from the veterinary supply deposits.
Protan and how to incinerate public money
The incineration of a 20 kg dog costs 10 EURO (0.5 EURO/kg). Since most shelters don’t have weight scales and Protan reception documents specify that the quantity column should be filled out by the customer, the weight was eyeballed by the animal control folks. If you fictionally kill between 40 and 60 animals, you also need to approximate their weight and fictionally incinerate about 1,000kg, which brings Protan about $500 EURO.
If you extrapolate this schema to a whole year between 10,000 and 15,000 EURO were embezzled in Brasov only.
It was obvious that this whole embezzlement mechanism was accompanied by a long term strategy to keep the animals on the streets. When they were out hunting in other cities the dog catchers were catching everything they could get their hands on, especially dogs with owners or protectors and dogs that were sterilized and returned to their territory according to HG 955/2004. There were cases where dogs were taken while walking next to their owners or where the dog catchers went into people’s yards and took their dogs. A lot of the owners tried to negotiate a return fee smaller than the official one and eventually, especially in Bucharest, a “protection fee” paid to the dog catchers became the norm.
Although the problem of the aggressive dogs was supposedly the number one priority, the animal control folks rarely caught aggressive dogs. Instead they almost always took puppies and little, friendly dogs that were easy and safe to catch. This approach had the double benefit of keeping the dangerous dogs on the streets in order to perpetuate the “terror of the strays” while making the dog catchers appear as heroes and saviors in the eyes of the people.
QUARRELS... IN THE "DOGCATCHERS ' PARADISE"
At the end of December 2007 the Deputies Chamber voted a modification of the Animal Protection Law(205/2004) also known as "Marinescu's Law”. Among other things, this law classifies animal cruelty as a crime punishable by law and prohibits the euthanasia of healthy cats or dogs. It seemed as if common sense and logic had won over the hundreds of mayors and dogcatchers (who during 8 years managed to "bury" aprox. 35 million Euros in a mountain of stray corps).Also, during the same time, in December 2007, the Senate modified the law concerning the strays and replaced euthanasia with spay/neuter and returning to territory, according to the WHO's guidelines. AND NOW COMES THE "PROBLEM"....These two new legislative measures would have solved the strays problem, leaving all of those who made big money from the "stray business" without their huge profits!!!
All the dogcatchers and their "official sponsors" quickly realized that if the new legislative proposals (PL912) will be presented to the ADP in spring 2008, the new law will become definitive, as approved by the Senate. Their only chance was to postpone and prolong this indefinitely. This would have given the dogcatchers plenty of time to still operate as before, the solution wouldn't have been applied and it would present later on as the perfect excuse to suggest euthanasia of all strays as the number of strays would have grown even more. Their evil plan worked, as the new legislative proposal (PL912) still has yet to be presented to ADP since 2008!
ANSVA , DSVSA and other public institutions
Although euthanasia had been abolished, majority of public administrations across country continued the mass killing of strays, using the most absurd justifications: suddenly, all strays became terminally ill (backed up by false documents produced by corrupt state employees)or using "personal interpretation " of the law. All this was going on with the silent approval of the official services for animal protection, just as corrupt as the public administrations: ANSVSA and DSVSA.
Thousands of strays were captured, the "lucky"ones being detained sometimes for a couple of weeks before their death in the official "shelters": filthy, cold, very small cages, lying in their own feces, deprived of food and water, beaten and abused daily and then finally killed by untrained or uneducated dogcatchers, in the most cruel ways possible, suffering the most unimaginable pain till the last breath...
Anybody that get the chance to see some of their official evidence of these atrocities would be appalled by the gruesome mistakes used to justify what they did.
As many of these dogcatchers are paid by the local authorities, their only "enemy" is the NGO's. Therefore, they are doing their best to keep the NGO's as far away as possible, refusing any collaboration or cooperation with them.
THE ALMIGHTY DOGCATCHER AND HIS DARK AMENDMENTS...
About a year later, once a few people started complaining about their dirty business, the almighty dogcatchers across the country started to be concerned and thus considered it's the perfect time to start changing the law according to their interest.
The "chosen" one to formulate the new proposal of law was no other than Barbulescu Flavius (famous for killing 30000 dogs in 8 years and having at least 6 legal complaints against him) , supported by Simona Panaitescu. Both of them had the "blessing" of Brasov's Mayor, George Cripcaru, also known as "Dracula of dogs”, prominent member of PDL (Democratic-Liberal Party) and a man used to manipulate the laws according to his best interests.
Barbulescu's new law proposal included mass euthanasia of strays , banning the NGO's any involvement in the dogcatchers or municipal shelters activity, obstructing adoptions by implementing severe fines for people feeding or taking care of strays on the streets
Once Barbulescu's "masterpiece" was finished, they needed someone to make it public. And who better than Bucharest's prefect, Mihai Atanasoaiei, well known for his embarrassing public speeches and appearances. After that, the game moved on to Elena Udrea and Sulfina Barbu.
Zanfir Iorgus (PDL):"The best solution is spay/neuter...or Euthanasia...or better yet let the mayors decide!"
Sulfina Barbu:" I suggest that it should be mandatory by law that local administrations and NGO’S became partners...” .....that was all she had to say after all NGO's representatives explained and documented 453, 17 arguments against the reintroduction of mass euthanasia of strays. They have showed her in every way possible why mass killing of dogs is inefficient, inhumane, absurd, very expensive and not cost-effective compared to the alternative, against WHO's guidelines: They also showed her how during the last 7 years the officials did nothing to solve this problem the right way, how they delayed everything, didn't pass the law, abused the power they had, continued the killings and misused the taxpayers money...
Their biggest weapon is the manipulation of the population through mass-media. Their "servant" PRO TV always "deliver" twisting the facts and lying out in the open without remorse, just as long as they can blame something on the strays (e.g. The case of a woman attacked by dogs in a private yard, because she entered the premises at night, without any authorization, presented to the public as a woman killed by strays. The same type of story happened again, a drunken woman was attacked by dogs that had owners, and they also blamed the strays for her death. Even after the official reports from the investigations were released, PRO TV never rectified their stories , apologized, on the contrary, everyday they try to find more things that they can blame the strays for...
And PRO TV is not the only one. There are other TV stations and newspapers in the same boat.
Elena Udrea - She is one of the biggest supporters of euthanasia of all strays, as a future candidate for the Mayor of Bucharest. She encourages the passing of the anti strays law, claiming that this is the "American" model, but failing to realize the HUGE differences between the two countries when it comes to animal welfare.
2007: The Senate votes PL 912/2007 that replaces the mass killing of strays with spay/neuter/release
2008: Animal Protection Law prohibits mass euthanasia.
ADP from Deputies Chamber blocks the discussion of this law for 3 YEARS!!!
Meanwhile, local authorities continue the killing and totally ignore the solution: spay/neuter/release. They are officially breaking the law and try to cover for all who do that also.
In Brasov, a German organization offered to spay/ neuter all the city's strays but were completely ignored by local authorities.
The only town where the mayor actually used spay/ neuter/release programs was Oradea, and the results are showing: in 6 years the population of strays decreased 8 times.
So after 3 long years of blocking PL912 from being approved, the politicians want now to “solve” the stray problem by mass killing!!!
Knowing very well that euthanasia is not a solution, they all want that as it is a guarantee for more dirty money to be made in the future from "the stray business". Spay/neuter/ return programs would only jeopardize their source of dirty profits!
On the 1st of March 2011, Sulfina Barbu sneaked in Atanasoaiei's new proposals of law (modifying PL912) which granted the mayors the liberty to decide on euthanasia or not. Animal lovers were protesting outside the Parliament's Building unnoticed...
On the 7th of March 2011 , when ADP tried to vote the "new and improved "PL912 with Atanasoaiei's proposals, a miracle happened: the deputies decided to return the law to the Commission to allow the NGO' s and Animal Welfare groups to be consultants and the law to be re-discussed after 3 weeks.
This delay "caught by surprised" a lot of mayors too, who already counted on the mass euthanasia to be approved and were "ready" to take action, having everything ready do to "the job". And strangely enough, during these 3 weeks more and more cases of strays shot, poisoned, beaten to death, burned, abused and tortured appear every day, all over the country...
(Article written by Codrut Feher)