Monday, 7 April 2014

The translation of the 48 minute video interview that Razvan Bancescu gave to Lucian Mindruta on 24.03.2014

Original video in Romanian:

0:00 Good evening ladies and gentlemen. Glad to have you today on "Schimba Vorba".
Tonight our guest is Razvan Bancescu, project coordinator at ASPA.
First of all, lets remind people where we are (regarding the stray dogs problem)
A couple of days ago a woman was found dead and bitten.
The doctors from I.M.L. didn't figure out yet if she died because she was too drunk or from the bites. She had a 4 promille alcohol concentration in her blood.
On the other hand the woman was found bitten by a pack of stray dogs.

00:51 Razvan Bancescu: I don't know it if was a pack. She was behind a bench in the park.

So the dogs were in a park.

00:58 Bancescu: Yes

So they lived there.


So after all of this ASPA got into this and started with banning people from adopting stray dogs. On Aspa's website there's a long list that i published on my facebook with the people who are not allowed to adopt anymore. Why aren't they allowed to adopt anymore?

1:25 Razvan Bancescu We would wish the list to be final, to not find anymore cases of abandoned stray dogs (from those taken from ASPA shelters). What we can prove regarding abandonment we posted online

How do you prove people took dogs and abandoned them?

Razvan Bancescu: We have declarations from people who adopt stray dogs, who contain identification and microchip of the dog and who said they will take the dog to a certain address but we either found the dog in the streets (we recaptured them) or we found them at a different address which was not mentioned initially.

2:06 How many dogs are involved in this?

Razvan Bancescu: there are over 160 dogs that we found on the streets.

The list contains people that adopted large numbers of  dogs (110, 120, 172 dogs), like Mrs. Pahomi, the woman who was the holder of some of the dogs involved in this case.

3:03 What is the legal right of ASPA for doing this?

Razvan Bancescu: It's more of a moral right regarding this situation. We can't finish our program if we have these kind of situations.
It's a neverending story like this.

4:57 What's the plan? How did you decide to resolve this issue (the stray dog problem) considering there are dogs on the streets that bite, attack,etc.

Razvan Bancescu 5:09 These measures were drawn up at the end of 2012 and approved in may 2013 by the General council. It's not the death of Ionut in september that determined to take action.

Razvan Bancescu :In 2012 and before there weren't much money at our disposal. But with the new council decisions and the law at the end of 2013 and the publication of the norms....

So you are the dogs catchers also, right?
Razvan Bancescu :Yes, there's no shame about that.

How many people call each day?
Razvan Bancescu: 40 - 45 people and also aprox. 20-25 written petitions. So almost 60 in total.

How many criminal complaints do you get daily from NGO's?
We don't have those daily yet, but we are not far away from it.

Do you have a legal right to do this? The NGO's accuse you that you don't have any right
Razvan Bancescu: For them, anything that comes against their mission is an abuse.

Do you have anything against the protection of animals?
7:06 No, of course not, i have 3 dogs, 1 is a stray dog.

We don't handle 200-300 dogs as shown on TV on RSPCA, handled with care, with gloves, taken in arms.  We catch over 200 dogs daily.

question from the public: What studies do the dog catchers have?
7:53: Sadly there is no school to train dog catchers, we train them. We strive, in all of this routine, to cause no harm.
8:14 There are images and videos (on which the NGO's base their accusations) that dogs are ill-treated.
Razvan Bancescu: No, all our equipment is homologated. The most traumatizing technique is the use of the catching pole. They are brought from the U.S. They can be tighten or loosen. It's their marketing.

9:08 There are sensitive people out there who don't agree with these methods. Your plan will never work if the NGO's don't agree with your catching techniques.

Razvan Bancescu: The projects has drawn out lines. The NGO's can adhere to them or not. They had enough time. If they want to help, they should do it regarding adoptions. But responsible adoptions, not just take dogs of because of fear of euthanasia and we find them in the streets again. This part is not negociable.

10:01 People talk about sterilization as a solution to this problem.
Razvan Bancescu:  Sterilization is nothing (dust) in regard to the situation we have now in Bucharest.
How many dogs are in Bucharest now?
Razvan Bancescu:  Over 40.000, We estimated using the extrapolation method. we count the dogs in an area during the day and during the night and we extrapolate that to the area of Bucharest.

Well, we started from 65000 dogs. We caught about 12000 dogs until today.
Over half of them were adopted.

11:20  How can stray dogs suddenly appear on a street?
Razvan Bancescu: Dogs migrate in certain conditions from one territory to another. For example, after a couple of rains and depending on the wind direction these territories can change or intersect, but if 2 dogs suddenly appear and they seem confused it means someone brought them. We have this situations on a number of streets. With the help of the new budget we hope to acquire some video cameras and mount them in these areas where citizens report these kind of things.

There is a movie on the internet (shows the video from the ASPA raid in the vier pfoten shelter)

In this movie you enter on a private terrain.
Razvan Bancescu: No, the terrain belongs to ADP district 6
Why did you enter there?
Because the gates were opened for us by the legal owners of the land, District 6 town hall. They were notified of this. It's their problem if they decided to stay or not..i don't know. They had a protocol which also stipulated leaving that base (terrain).

But why did you go there? 

16:28 Yes, all sorts of things happen there, we had info regarding dog trafficking. We didn't know who those dogs belong to. There's an obligation that all dogs be registered.

What does dog trafficking mean? Sounds very weird...
Part of this involves adoptions and international adoptions made just so the dogs can be moved around.
In southern Italy for example they banned international adoptions because they couldn't control this. The Napoli, Sicilia areas.

Ok, so you went there, got the dogs...
Razvan Bancescu: We went there, got the dogs, put them in our vans...
Razvan Bancescu: Because they don't have any papers for them. If those dogs there get moved anywhere, or on the street i am at risk of being bitten or maybe worse and then we will search for who is guilty..
So they weren't microchipped?
18:15 Razvan Bancescu: just a part. From what i managed to scan on friday, from 40 dogs, only 12 were microchipped.
And these 12 that were microchipped belonged to...?
Razvan Bancescu: We can consider that those people that came to get them out today are their owners and we encourage adoptions, but we want to know (according to the law) who those dogs belong to.

Can NGO's  make partnerships with town halls to take care of the dogs?
18:38 Razvan Bancescu :There is the possibility to adopt. Anything more than this can hurt more, hurt the community. i can give you an example with the same NGO  that had a sterilization program with ASPA. A program dragged from 2010 up until 2012 that we finally started because it was good for us.
Why was it postponed?
Razvan Bancescu: They were gone in Sudan, Ukraine, The Danube delta,etc. Stray dogs counted only when elections came. We had a target, they came and made 20 sterilizations then went off to Sudan, came back and made another 20. We can't make things this way. We notified them to leave the room, they sued us, we won the lawsuit and we will evacuate them

Do you have something against these NGO's? People on facebook say that you are a criminal organization that steals the public money
Razvan Bancescu: there are good and bad town halls and there are good and bad NGO's
ASPA cooperates with other NGO's. We didn't find any problems with them so we will continue with them.
In the list we published there are only a part of the NGO's.

How many NGO's are in Bucharest that handle dogs?
20:46 Razvan Bancescu: Here there's a problem, many appear as NGO's but they don't have a fiscal code and they receive money from donations.
How do you know they receive money from donations?
Razvan Bancescu: Because we watched/followed the transactions on the internet. There are different types of donations. For the well being of the animals (i guess he means for food) and for the adoption preparations in other countries.
These donations should be made with an IBAN code and a SWIFT code. For 2 years since i monitor these, they are made through paypal addresses. I wanted to know why there is such a resistance to not resolve this problem in Bucharest.

I had problems with these NGO's even regarding sterilization.

These donations ended up in the paypal address of the owner of the NGO, for them to take care of the animals or getting them ready for transport.

You say you have evidence, shouldn't we have names also?
Shouldn't you take these evidences to the police?
20:25 Razvan Bancescu: No, there are institutions that received this information. They received this data in October last year.

If these were illegal, don't you think those institutions should have initiated some lawsuits?
23:19: There's a lot of data, we're talking about data gather in over 1 and a half years.

They are investigated by ANAF

I gave a report to the ministry of finances (in september last year) that included the number of NGO's that handled dogs in bucharest in 2001, and there were 7 then. Now there are 58 + 12 or so that don't have a fiscal code.
They don't pay taxes, deceiving, and working without papers.

Show host: But i think most of the NGO's are serious, real and take care of the dogs.

24:33 From our analysis 2001 - 2012, it all started with funds around  136000 euros for these NGO's in 2001 and in 2012, more than 2 million euros in Bucharest.

These money come from donations and international transfers and also the 230 form through which anyone can donate 2% of their taxes.

On what are these kind of money spent on?
Razvan Bancescu: Mainly marketing, meaning how to say that ASPA is not making it's duty, that we are corrupt, because they can't accept that situation of stray dogs in bucharest begins to be resolved. That's their business.

What was ASPA's budget last year?
Razvan Bancescu: 1.6 million euros.

What did you make with this money?

We continued to invest in the Mihailesti shelter, salaries, sanitary materials,veterinarians.

So you helped getting rid of how many dogs with these money?
6000 dogs last year.
Why do we build shelters for them when there is a law that says they must be killed if they aren't adopted?
27:50 Razvan Bancescu: We need them to administrate this problem. We need to catch over 180 dogs/day. We need space for them.
Adoptions help, they usually happen in the first 1,2,3 or 4 days after a dog has been caught.

(then they discuss a few seconds how adoptions rise and fall each month)
Then both he and the show host says that the demonstrations on the 8th of march were chosen badly because it was woman/mother's day and also about a banner that said "Who the fuck is Ionut?"

29:35 This is not how you find ways to communicate with us. There is nothing worse than what they did on the 8th of march.

From what i saw on facebook, there is a certain kind of people who love dogs that don't accept any other rational arguments. For them we are all criminals, they can't understand anything other than sterilizations...Can it be done without killing?

Razvan Bancescu: a wise man from history said "to try to make everyone happy you will fail". We need to satisfy 98.17% of people who live in Bucharest.
Nobody will say on the street that they agree with the killing. it's a taboo thing.

It's logical, there are thousands of dogs, what do we do with them? any lowering of the catching rate means more and more generations and we "feed" this marketing that caused us a lot of harm internationally

What does that mean?

Well, i got messages from the ambassadors from all over Europe about the demonstrations happening there. Their propaganda is full of lies.

What do they say about us?

31:40: Razvan Bancescu: That we started killing before the norms were out, that we kill everything no matter what, that we don't handle them with care. Pictures show up from the 90's, from other countries,etc

Show host: But they have a hero (he refers to Grivita) that dog that got mutilated,

32:12 Razvan Bancescu: I Don't know how it happens but the hero always shows up when they need to. From what i know about dogs, that dog was mutilated long before the killing law appeared. Dogs are naturally curious and keep getting their nose everywhere.
it looks like a petard did that, not a sword.

How many people take the law into their own hands? Do you find dogs that have been killed?

Razvan Bancescu: Yes, sadly we find dogs that are poisoned. We don't encourage that.

That's not how you resolve this issue.

i agree. i think the one who adopts and then abandons is guilty in the same way as that who takes the law into his own hands and kills.

Razvan Bancescu: The problem is the abandonment rate, and i am reffering here to dog breeds not only stray dogs. i saw aprox. 160 abandoned german shepards, rottweilers,cockers,etc in the last 3 months. A dog is not a gadget.
There are various reasons for abandonment: the changing of the status of the family (someone dies, someone gets sick, a child is born,etc), moving. Another special problem is with the dog breeders. There is no control over them. They breed in consanguinity even. These leads to diseases. I also had people phoned me to get them an exactly same dog as the one they had. Also the pet shops, it's not normal for dogs to be sold there.

Show host: Lets get back to stray dogs. I have the following problem. I ride my bike with my kid. I convince him very hard to do this because he is scared of dogs since when he was biten. We pass by a factory. From that yard, each day 6-7 dogs attack me, well..sort of, they bark at me. They don't catch me. i have speed and experience, but it's stressful and it is even more stressful with a child.
I got the phone number of the manager and called him and said to him to do something about this. These dogs are usually kept there by guards to help them during the night. What can i do as a citizen, attacked, against that company?

37:23 Razvan Bancescu: Yes, we have more than 20 of these cases a day. We go there, the dogs retreat on a private property and then the complaints start rolling.

By who? the companies?

No, by the guards helped by NGO's.

Show host: I used to work as a night guard at a factory and i had 2 dogs but i kept them in the shed/bay, they weren't getting out to bark at people in the tram station.

Razvan Bancescu: There are companies that let loose their dogs at night but during the day they keep them locked in kennels. This is what being responsible means. I never saw there a free dog during the day.

Show host: But what should i do if i get attacked at during the night?

Razvan Bancescu: The best way to do it is this: complaint to the police, the police writes to the administrator and the administrator contacts us and so we have the right to get in there.

Show host: But i don't have time to go to the police, to make a complaint...

Razvan Bancescu: That is why we are preparing a resolution of the general council through that will permit us to enter on terrains that permit the stray dogs to retreat there, or dogs from those terrains who come into the public space.

Show host:The NGO's will attack you that you are against the constitution.

Razvan: If they will give us 6 months we will resolve this. After we finish cleaning up the center of the town, we will go to the residential area.

This will be the next target, the dogs that live on the premises, who don't have papers. They retreat on private lands but do damages in public. Everything that concerns the public safety is not negociable.

Show host: i know a place with another pack of dogs, next to which a lady steps down from a very expensive car (more than 50000 euros) with a large bag of food. Suddenly from the open field 10+ dogs came. She was very happy, for her it was the greatest thing.
But what about us that come after her and don't have food?

Razvan Bancescu: Feeding the stray dogs is the biggest mistake one can make. last year we proposed to fine all those that feed dogs. All the NGO's yelled at us, they said it's illegal, mr. Vadim came, mr. Marinescu came...

Show host:  Mr. Marinescu should go knock on a door and ask if the child there has a piece of meat like that

42:22 Razvan Bancescu: He is not interested in that, it doesn't bring him notoriety.

I discussed this thing with some psychologists and i asked them why are people doing this: They said it's a substitute for endorphin and adrenaline.
It's sort of a maternal instinct transferred to the dog.

Show host:You can't fight with this. It's like with the drugs.

Bancescu: The feeding of stray dogs can only be resolved with the "stake", a metaphor for fines and strict regulations, this is how civilization begins.
By feeding them they socialize and form packs.
Over 90% of the attacks are made by sterilized dogs and people fed them\

Show host: I wonder if the person feeding the dogs feels he has a guilty conscience?
No, if he had a conscience he would have understood this.

Bancescu: When there are injured people we can only think with the mind (rationaly)

Show host: When i discuss with people on facebook all these rational arguments can't be understood by them.

Bancescu: As i said, you need a "stick", there is no other way.

Show host: I can't believe that...

Razvan Bancescu: In Berlin, in London, you get fined if you feed the pigeons. All that food is a source for other animals, rats for example, is about the safety of the town, it's a disease risk.

Show host: This year you have 3 times more money than last year, how much time until you resolve this problem? how long before i can  be sure that from my house to a park, i can go with my child, riding a bike, that i won't be attacked.

47:22 Razvan Bancescu: on the 31st of march 2015 this project will be finished, meaning 80% of the dogs will be caught and there will be less than 10% of the current bites reports. We now have 67% less bites than last year.

Show host: there is another thing that nobody cares about, all of these animals pee and poo on the street where we walk

Razvan Bancescu: We will have statistics regarding this from Victor Babes institute.

Show host: Thank you everyone for watching. Tonight we discussed about stray dogs with ASPA representative Razvan Bancescu. Tomorrow night....get ready for this...especially I...we will have as a guest a lady from CUTU CUTU association.


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Romanian Stray Dogs