Animal welfare groups have vowed to continue their fight against plans to euthanize Romania’s stray dogs despite a decision today declaring the measure legal.
The Romanian Constitutional Court took less than four hours today to approve the law, which was sparked by the fatal mauling of a four-year-old.
The bill, which now just needs the president’s signature to become law, allows strays to be euthanised if they are not adopted after two weeks spent in a shelter.
Protesters outside the court reacted with fury following the announcement, blocking a main road.
President of animal welfare NGO Save the Dogs Sara Turetta said the organisation would continue to fight the “appalling” measure by lobbying Europian politicians.
“Within two to three years, Europe will issue without a doubt a Directive on Companion Animals and Romania will be forced to review this barbaric and senseless law,” Ms Turetta said.
“The WHO and the OIE have repeatedly rejected the mass killings as a method to manage the stray dogs population…but the Romanian politicians continue to deliberately ignore these indications.
“It’s a behavior that finds no explanation, as it won’t just cause endless suffering to thousands of stray dogs but it will also create enormous social tensions between animal lovers and those who want to get rid of the dogs.”
Dogcatchers have already started rounding up the city’s estimated 64,000 dogs, after the Romanian Parliament passed the law on September 10, following the fatal mauling of four-year-old Ionut Anghel, allegedly by strays on September 2.
With a population of 1,883,425, there is about one stray dog to every 31 people in Romania’s capital city.
More than 6,000 people were bitten including 1,000 children in the first six months of 2013 in Bucharest, which last year recorded 16,000 incidents of dog bites.
Bucharest’s problem with strays dates back to the 1980s, when the communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu ordered the demolition of hundreds of houses and their replacement with apartment blocks as part of his urbanisation plan.
Forced to move to smaller apartments, many people abandoned their dogs.
Shaun Turton firstname.lastname@example.org