Thursday, 7 November 2013

Stray animal situation in Romania: it's just business!

Another brilliant piece from Occupy For Animal.

According to Princess Maja von Hohenzollern, Romania has killed an incredible 10 million stray dogs during the period from 2004 to 2009. That IS a 'genocide of dogs' that has never happened in Europe - and the entire world - before. Romania has killed almost half as many dogs as the entire population of Romania with the only "result" that the streets of Romania are again (still) littered with live and dead dogs. 

Under the pretext of the “stray’s terror” generous budgets have always been allocated. In 2001, Traian Basescu, the then-mayor of Bucharest launched a campaign that led to the extermination of about 144,000 stray dogs in the capital alone, spending almost 9,000,000 Euros (62 Euros per dog) during the period from 2001-2007. Between 2008-2010, 20,000 dogs have been killed in Constanta spending 1,500,000 Euros (75 Euros per dog). 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, while their numbers 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 strays is a very profitable business.

The Romanian 'extermination enterprise', legalized under Law no. 258/2013 which the Romanian Constitutional has ruled as being 'constitutional' on 25th of September, 2013, is a vast governmental project and stands for good money to be made by various companies involved in the rounding up, the supposed maintenance, the killing and the disposal of the animals killed by violence or neglect.

From the rounding up till the killing of the animals, money is being made at every step and many people profit from this business.

The rounding up of the dogs

According to an article published in the Romania media on 12th of September, 2013 the Authority for the Supervision and Protection of Animals (ASPA) signed 9 contracts with three of the seven companies that participated in the tender regarding the rounding up of the dogs in Bucharest.

According to this contracts, the municipality will pay 219 LEI (about 49,40 euros) for each dog caughed altough according to Annexe 2 of the Decision of the General Council of Bucharest, the amount of such fees should NOT exceed 70 LEI (16 euros). 219 LEI for the catching of ONE dog is mega huge. The tranquilizer cost maximum 5 LEI per dog, add 5 LEI for gasoline, makes it 10 LEI. 

In fact, the amount paid by the municipality for one dog (219 LEI) equals to the price that the municipality would need to pay if the dogs would come by taxi from about 157 km away from the "shelter", given that the taxi price is 1,39 LEI/km. 157 km is about the distance from Bucharest to Focsani. However, the two shelters of the city hall are located on Boulevard Pallady, Sector 3, and in the town Mihăileşti Giurgiu county, 25 km from the capital.

Anyways... with 65,000 homeless dogs living on the streets of Bucharest alone (according to the official estimates), 3.211.000 euros will be spent only for the catching of the dogs. 

The housing of the dogs

According to another article published in the Romanian news, the City Hall of Bucharest pays 30 LEI per dog per day (6.77 euros per dog per day) for the housing of the dogs. With a '14-days-pre-slaughter-period' to be spent in one of Romania's death camps, this equals to 94,78 euros per dog, or 6,160,700 euros for 65,000 dogs.

The 'euthanasia' of the dogs

According to the same article, the Bucharest City Hall intends to spend 50 LEI per dog (11,28 euros) for their 'euthanasia'. For the 65,000 dogs to be killed, this means that 733,200 euros will be spend on their killing.

The cremation of the dead dogs

The last link in the money-making process is PROTAN - the company who has the monopoly in burning animal carcasses and the neutralization of all kind of animal waste. 

According to an article on the Romanian stray dogs business, written by Codrut Feher (FNPA), 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.

And if we take an average weight of 20 kg per dog which is then being eyeballed at 25 kg, this would mean 1,625,000 kg of dogs to be cremated at a cost of 0,5 euros per kg = 812.500 Euros to be embezzled only with the cremation process.


Rounding up of the dogs: 3,211,000 euros
Housing of the dogs: 6,160,700 euros
Euthanasia of the dogs: 733,200 euros
Cremation of the dogs: 812,500 euros

TOTAL: 10,917,400 euros for 65,000 dogs or 167,96 euros/dog

The Romanian government estimates the stray animals population at 3 million dogs and intends to reduce their numbers by 80% which would then mean that 2,400,000 animals are to be 'eradicated', if not adopted. Given that the Romanian government has implemented very strict adoption rules making adoptions almost impossible, and if we would assume that no dog will get adopted but that they will all be killed, an incredible 403,104,000 euros of public money will be spent on a stray animal population control strategy that the WHO (World Health Organisation) considers to be ineffective.

According to the World Health Organization’s “Guidelines for Dog Population Management” (Geneva 1990) and various other academic studies, killing stray animals does not stop the problem and only offers a temporary “solution”. And although there will be significant profits to be made, the net result will be abject failure and the number of animals will not decrease because new puppies will continue to be added to this sad cycle given that no-one is compelled to sterilize their companion animals, and that most dogs in Romania are allowed to roam freely and to mate as they wish. Their off-spring are then simply being killed or dumped on the streets or in the woods. Approximately 5 million puppies are born each year in Romania in rural areas. Nobody knows how many puppies are born in the entire country... but as long as people dump dogs on the street and let dogs loose on the street to breed, there will be more dogs. 

But "interestingly" even culling dogs can be very profitable. The President is therefore asking the tax payers to fund an expensive, non-evidence based, ineffective practice and we are now facing a slaughter without precedent!

Of course, in reality, the amounts spend will be different because a very very small percentage of dogs will be adopted, mostly via foreign organizations given that the adoption conditions for Romanians are so strict that it has almost become impossible for Romanian citizens to adopt a dog, and many many dogs will be killed in the most gruesome of ways imaginable on the streets by citizens who believe that the new "legislation" provides them with a free ticket to kill.

And there's the corruption, of course...

In his brilliant report on the Romanian stray dogs business, Codrut Feher explains the "flexibility of the budgets". In Brasov, for example, four rundown old cars with easy to tamper with mileage tracking systems were each allocated about 350-400 liter 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 1,500 EURO/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 a 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.

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 audit of the activity of the dog 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 154 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. 

The Romanian stray animals issue is NOT an "emotional zoological disaster" - it is animal exploitation. Plain and simple.

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Romanian Stray Dogs