Monday, 10 March 2014

Observations regarding IREC's 'Right of Reply' from 7th of March, 2014 concerning the article called 'Neglect of Stray Dogs - MEPs Deliver Damning Indictment of Romania's Mismanagement' published by Dr Rita Pal on Huffington Post

by Andrzej Szczepanek & Pia Berrend - March 8, 2014 
Having carefully reviewed IREC's reservations expressed in their paper Right of Reply from 7th of March, 2014 ( regarding the article called 'Neglect of Stray Dogs-MEPs Deliver Damning Indictment of Romania's Mismanagement' published by Dr Rita Pal on Huffington Post, we state the following:

It is important to note that what is being expressed in this article does not reflect the personal opinion of Dr Pal, but that she merely quotes excerpts of the EU-Press Conference from 12th of February, 2014, held by MEP Janusz WOJCIECHOWSKI (ECR), the Vice-Chairman of the AGRI Committee and Vice-Chairman of the Animal Welfare Intergroup, and MEP Andrea ZANONI (ALDE), one of the Vice-Chairmen of the Animal Welfare Intergroup, following their latest visit in Romania on 27/28th of January, 2014.

In fact, on December 4, 2013 a delegation of the European Parliament went to Romania and met with different Romanian officials, including ANSVSA - Sanitary-Veterinary and Food Safety National Authority - as well as the Mayor of Bucharest. The delegation members were assured that the law on dog management was a law on "adoption" and not on "euthanasia" and that the citizens had access to public shelters which were totally transparent and complying with the law.

On January 27/28th of January, 2014, the delegation returned to Romania in order to inform themselves on the situation, directly on site, by visiting different dog shelters of the city halls. The Delegation found that there was a major discrepancy between what the authorities had told them during their first visit and what they found on site during their second visit.

What has been said during this press conference, such as:

"This visit proved that signals regarding violent treatment of dogs in these places are true"

"I did not question the necessity of reduction of stray dogs in Romania but I believe that Romanian authorities have decided to conduct this reduction in an inhumane and ineffective way"

"It has become a business for private companies that receive a lot of money to catch and put down these animals, or run these shelters - well... shelters is hardly the right word - given what is going on in them. This program costs a lot of money and it means a lot of profit for the companies involved. And so it's not in their interest to solve the problem. They want the problem, the issue to continue for as long as possible so that can earn as much money as possible out of it".

"The new legislation doesn't solve the problem, it's exacerbating it"

and which is what Dr Pal has quoted in her article, is now the official position of the European Union on the matter of the cruel treatment of dogs in Romania. You can watch the video from about said press conference on our website, at:


1. The Romanian authorities' decision to mass-exterminate the country's stray dogs population was taken arbitrarily without any serious social consultations.

The sheer scope and enormity of the extermination project excludes any possibility of carrying it out in a civilized, humane and socially acceptable way. No mass extermination is humane, civilized and acceptable. No policy of mass extermination is credible because it implies the legalization, institutionalization commercialization and bureaucritization of killings and the active involvement of the state and state institutions in the process. In this way, the policy of violence is actively supported by the state and killings themselves are justified on legal grounds. The state assumes the leading and active role as the chief perpetrator and promoter of violence. This is utterly unacceptable and directly leads to the corruption of the legal system and those who operate behind it. Therefore, the Romanian extermination program raises grave legal and moral questions which should be debated publicly with the independent social representation. The policy of mass extermination simply contradicts the very substance and concept of the European Council's Convention for the Protection of Companion Animals which clearly stipulates that: pain or suffering may be imposed on an abandoned animal in connection with its catching, and care at the shelter or its euthanasia.

The question of the wholesale extermination of the Romanian stray animals has a direct and inherent reference to the broader question of the legalization of violence and its traumatizing impact on the society.

Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union explicitly grants companion animals the status of sentient beings. This concept ceases to carry its legal meaning as soon as stray animals are subject to the institutionalized, legalized and commercialized process of mass extermination because the wholesale killings often imply that the 'euthanasia' procedures are violated, the animals are kept in appalling conditions because of overcrowding, they are often starved, beaten and maimed, they are treated instrumentally as a commodity to be disposed of in return for money, and they are subject to unspeakable suffering. In this way, their status as sentient beings is denied to them. In return, they acquire the status of waste or vermin to be utilized.

This is the logic of state-legalized and institutionalized violence which dramatically and profoundly changes the emotive and legal perception of sentient beings denying them their legal status of sentient beings and transforming them in the eyes of the public into disposable and unfeeling junk. The pace, the intensity and the extent of slaughter simply annuls the validity of the concept of a sentient being thus corroding the moral foundation of the law.

2. What is more, humans and animals are legally and constitutionally acknowledged as sentient beings and they are protected by the law. We also firmly believe that:

Since a human being has an inalienable and a natural right to relate emotively to other living beings, be it humans or animals and as, universally, this relation constitutes the foundation of man's sense of security and well-being as well as the sense of his identity and as the character of this affective relation is the same regardless of whether this relation exists between humans or humans and animals, any one who perpetrates the violence-related trauma resulting from the suppression of this natural right should be held accountable as the violation of this right causes psychosomatic suffering and trauma equivalent to the violation of personal rights and freedoms.

Relating to others in terms of cultivating an emotive relation with other humans or animals is man's most basic psychological need. The frustration of this most natural and basic need results in grave personality disorders, psychosomatic illness, depression, behavioral problems, anxiety, suffering and psychological trauma, especially in children.

There are many instances of a very strong emotive bond existing between emotively perceptive and receptive animals and people. In a large number of cases, the emotive quality of this relationship is the same as the one existing between humans, including gay community whose rights has only recently been legally established. For many people, caring for animals and the emotive interaction with them implies a rewarding pleasure and a greater sense of security and purpose so decisive in their emotional stability and general health.

As a result, animals rights are inseparably linked to human rights and any violation of animals rights imply the violation of the integrity of human rights and questions the coherence and credibility of the law.

3. Indeed, the problem of stray homelessness in Romania got out of control but it is not the politically-independent social movement to blame for it.

It is the Romanian government that failed in establishing the policy of transparent dialogue and collaboration with the social movement which represents the interests of the minorities and the socially disadvantaged including the animals, human, minority rights campaigners who also take a stand on the disadvantaged Romanian Roma population still waiting for the government to act to tackle this socially sensitive issue. Some evidence is also emerging in regard to the conditions prevailing in Romanian orphanages - another socially sensitive issue. We voice our criticisms because we clearly see that to effect any desirable social changes, a close co-operation between the state institutions especially at the local level and the social movement is needed.

In regard to the question of the Romanian animal slaughter, we emphasize that:

- The Romanian authorities have no credible and transparent social policy to resolve sensitive social issues. The policy of mass extermination only deters the social movement from co-operation and it divides the society.

- The implementation of the mass animals slaughter policy has not been preceded by an exhaustive social dialogue concentrating on the legal, moral, social, health and constitutional aspects of the killings. The Romanian government fails to recognize the importance of the protection of animals rights in the legal, constitutional, moral, human rights and social context.

- The Romanian government disregards the grave social consequences violence and trauma have on the health and psychological well-being of the large population of the country and the world's public opinion.

- There is no formal social representation to supervise the process of killings and the conditions in which animals are kept at the centers of concentration.

- This prospective social representation should be given extensive rights to supervise and act against any manifestations of violence and corruption.

- The Romanian government effectively restricts the constitutional rights of those animals and human rights organizations which campaign against violence, violence-related trauma, marginalization and social exclusion.

- The Romanian government is not interested in supporting the status of social organizations opposing the policy of violence. Difficult social issues can only be resolved by close co-operation between the state institutions and the social movement, but the independent public opinion must be first recognized by the officials as a fully-fledged partner entertaining equal rights. A fully recognized and organized social movement collaborating with the state bureaucracy has a great potential for resolving social ills because it represents the society's most sensitive problems and it partly operates on a voluntary basis. It is also capable of generating some money, mostly through donations, but it must be officially recognized by the authorities to win the confidence of the society on which behalf it operates. Therefore, the status of the independent social movements should be the focal point of any governmental social policy debate.

- Any credible governmental social policy based on the recognition of the independent social movements depends on investment into the social network to generate social and economic activity of ordinary citizens and thus strengthens the confidence of ordinary citizens in the state institutions and the government's social policy, which contributes to the development of healthy social relations and the diffusion of social tension and discontent. The voice of the independent public opinion and the social representation should be a permanent feature of the decision-making process. The terminal disease that corrupts social relations and leads to the rise in social tension is reflected in the fact that the constitutional rights of the public are codified in terms of legislation but they are totally dead in practice because rarely governments are willing to pursue effective and credible social policies. To address important social problems requires the co-operation of the society and if this right is denied, the social problems remain unresolved and unresolved social problems tend to turn political as we have seen recently across the world.

- Instead of spending huge amounts of money on the promotion of violence and corruption, a socially credible government invests the money into the social infrastructure, of which the independent social movement is one of essential foundations.

- It is preposterous to believe that the 258/2013 law is in line with the EU legislation and complies with the World Organization for Animal Health. The global scope and violence of the mass extermination program encourages corruption and unprecedented abuse of the law all the more because there is no permanent and reliable social supervision of the extermination practices and because the killings have been legally sanctioned.

- It is true the problem of dog bites and the rabies alert may be serious but it is the inevitable consequence of the Romanian government failed and abortive social policy. NGOs have very limited financial and infrastructural resources, they mostly operate on a voluntary basis and they will never be able to solve the problem alone. The NGOs will claim to adopt stray dogs as soon as they are given money to create jobs and necessary infrastructure and this is a very good investment because it mobilizes social and financial resources of the dedicated part of the society. Yet, the government seems to be willing to invest the money into the killing bureaucratic state-machine to promote the corrupt killing business of violence for profit with all its degenerate social, moral, legal and political consequences. It is the money which fuels the frenzy of killings and corruption because profit has the priority over the lasting solution of the social problem of animal homelessness and other relative issues of human and minority rights, social exclusion and marginalization.

- Addressing the problem of animals rights, the Romanian authorities should be aware that they are addressing the social and political question of human and constitutional rights, violence, psychological trauma, corruption, social exclusion and marginalization which can be interpreted within a broader framework of volatile socio-economic situation.

- A transparent and social policy demands that the financial and political status of those involved directly or indirectly in the extermination project (both the individuals and companies) be subject to public scrutiny. Money has already been invested into the catch, neuter and release program and the neutered animals are now to be killed which makes the killing business doubly profitable.

- This grave doubt and suspicion will never be dissipated unless the Romanian authorities pursue an honest and transparent social policy of the dialogue with the public giving the social representation competence to fully supervise its social policies.

- Do not use the term euthanasia in the context of the policy of mass extermination because it ultimately destroys your credibility. Euthanasia involves a set of very strict medical and social procedures. The setting for euthanasia must be right, it must be performed by professional staff, the euthanized subject must be in terminal stages of an incurable disease and suffering, the subject should be appropriately anesthetized prior to euthanasia, an appropriate euthanasia-agent should be used, most preferably intravenously, the euthanasia of healthy subjects is illegal and corrodes the veterinary code of ethics.

- The legal requirements to adopt a dog from a shelter are already very strict making adoptions almost impossible and given the living conditions in shelters, the dogs' health, the level of medical and non-medical care, the infectious diseases, dehydration, the stress the animals are subject to, the cramped conditions and overall trauma, very few people are determined enough to adopt a potentially ill dog which stands a good chance of dying within a few weeks after adoption. Only an independent social inspection composed of veterinarians and other social representatives could carry out necessary medical examination and tests to assess the true state of health and nutrition of dogs in animal shelters. Leukemia and other serious viral diseases blood-tests should be taken and evaluated and statistically interpreted. Tests for parasites should also be run. The mortality rate should be established over a certain period of time and this requires full and unobstructed access to animal shelters. The in and out traffic of dogs should be evidenced by the social inspectors along with the careful study of the finances. The public has the right to have direct access to the information and this access is constitutionally guaranteed.

- The social consultations preceding any resolution of the socially sensitive problem should focus on the establishment of clear constitutional and legal rights of the social representation to carry out its inspection responsibilities. No such legal procedures have ever been disscussed and these rights stem from the constitution and the statutes of non-governmental organizations. For consultations to be valid, the legal and constitutional competence of the social representation should be clearly delineated. It is a matter of legal negotiations and consultations and it takes time.

- What is most important is the emergence of credible social representation involving different social representatives willing to discuss and interpret such critically important social issues as violence, the welfare of the society, trauma, the legality and constitutionality of official social policies, the responsibility and competence of the social media and representation, the quality of social relations, the problems of socio-economic marginalization and exclusion. Only then will the communication between the government officials and the social representation achieve a new quality of co-operation and transparency. Only then will the legal and constitutional provisions be translated into the language of every day practice thus leading to the resolution of social tension and discontent. So far, no serious social consultations have been held and the current state of affairs is a mockery of the legal order.

- The authority of the state is exercised through bureaucratic and institutionalized channels and when the state adopts the social policy of violence, the social trauma and damage are extensive, demoralizing and serious.

- Unresolved social problems are structural in their character meaning that they are an inherent and permanent part of the social system. It is because the causes of the problems are structural and these underlying causes are the inertia and laziness of the political bureaucracy and the apathy and indifference of the society. There is also the break-down in the communication between the state bureaucracy and the society. That makes the social problems unresolvable. As a result, the social tension and frustration mount reaching a breaking point and turning into an open and sometimes violent social conflict. The present socio-economic crisis is the crisis of communication and will. Without active involvement of the political establishment and social representation ,with the worsening socio-economic outlook, there will be social unrest and the decline of social confidence in the state bureaucracy which no longer represents the interests of the society and is incapable of any desirable social changes which would restore the people's confidence and remedy social grievances.

- Even if the Romanian authorities succeeded in exterminating all the stray animals in the country, the problem will keep returning because without active participation of the society willing to follow the program of common neutering of animals, stray population of cats and dogs will soon grow in numbers and get out of hand. But maybe, this is what the people profiting from mass extermination business want. Only through the in-field work and education by the NGOs can the problem be solved permanently but the movement needs time, resources and money, and the co-operation of the state to organize and educate different groups of the society. Structural social problems to be addressed effectively require structural approach on the part of the state and political bureaucracy but here the will is lacking.

- It is a moral, political and social obligation and responsibility of the political bureaucracy to work out a viable and workable social policy in collaboration with social representation to revive the economic and social activity of the society and get it out of its apathy and indifference.

- Progress should be defined in the sense of the quality of social relations and the social policy of non-violence. Defining progress exclusively in terms of ever-increasing consumption, profit, statistics and technological progress will inevitably lead to the collapse of the social order and the resulting social conflict. Such a definition of progress implies the use of violence and the concurrent social trauma and individual misery.

And last but not least, the fact that the Romanian people are being bitten by stray dogs and that there are even fatalities reported which need to be carefully analysed is a clear sign of the ineffectiveness or even a criminal neglect on the part of the Romanian authorities which shamefully failed in the implementation of the plausible and working social policy to win the support and the co-operation of the social movements and the general Romanian public to resolve the structural and social problem of animal homelessness through socially-friendly policy of non-violence and honest public dialogue.

Instead of investing money into social infrastructure to enhance the democratization of social relations, the government wastes large sums of money on a killing business venture to the point that it becomes a financially lucrative investment enterprise enhancing the growth of covert corruption networks. This cancerous mindset of the political bureaucracy infects the public and it can be excised only when the European Community becomes aware of its uninhibited proliferation which consumes funds needed to improve social relations and address social problems. Structural social emergencies need structural socio-political approach and the strict collaboration between the EU, the Romanian public, the Romanian political bureaucracy and the international social representation. The degenerate quality of the Romanian social relations compromises the set of values and standards of the European Community thus exposing the weakness and inefficiency of the EU policy makers.

Only the well established social movement operating within the framework of European law, norms and standards can adequately expose the mechanisms of corruption, violence, social trauma and the instances of social marginalization and exclusion.

The current wave of socio-economic social unrest results from the socio-economic suppression of the social representation which is losing its socio-economic status and is subject to marginalization by the globalization of the political bureaucracy. This will inevitably give rise to mounting social tension and social unrest, if not addressed immediately.

8th of March, 2014

Andrzej Szczepanek & Pia Berrend

Please read this article on our website to have access to many linked information, an important document by WSPA as well as to an important documentary about the Romanian stray animals issue, at:


Related information:

Dr Rita Pal's article:

The EU-Press Conference:

The OFA-summary mentioned by Dr Pal:

The 'RABIES Letter':

The Parliamentary Question asked by Luxembourgian MEP Claude Turmes (Dèi Grèng):

The Parliamentary Question asked by Finnish MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen (PPE):

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Romanian Stray Dogs