How Are You Involved? Helping Solve The Stray Dog Problem in Romania

Ian Somerhalder Foundation

Towards the end of the twentieth century, many Romanian farmers were forced to move from their homes to live in block housing, and their cats and dogs were not allowed to go with them. By the end of 1989, the number of homeless cats and dogs in Romania reached what many considered a “crisis level”. They were forced to search for food and shelter, many got ill, and only some were placed in shelters. 1

Romania had no laws concerning animal protection or stray animal management. However, in 2001, a government resolution was adopted with regard to the management of stray dogs. The resolution required stray dogs be taken to shelters where they could be kept up to seven days, and it forbid dogs from being forced to participate in dogs fights. In 2002, the resolution was strengthened as it included prison sentencing for those individuals involved in dogfights. In 2004, a new law was adopted that required owners to provide proper shelter and enough food and water for their animals, amongst other creature comforts. The law also forbid animal cruelty. Additionally, the law outlined requirements to aid the stray dog population as it considered stray dogs “community animals” and made it illegal to kill, capture, or mistreat stray dogs, or engage them in dogfights. In 2008, animal cruelty was made a criminal offense, and euthanizing animals was prohibited unless they had an incurable illness or injury. 2

While the establishment of animal protection laws is a step in the right direction, Romania’s laws have flaws:

  • The laws have no restrictions on breeding
  • There is no specialized authority that is specifically dedicated to the implementation and monitoring of the laws Romania did establish
  • There is no clear statement in the law to allow animal welfare organizations to supervise and implement the law 2

There have been few positive accomplishments in the fight to solve the problem of the surplus of homeless dogs in Romania. Some law enforcement officials in Romania use the illegal “catch and kill” method to rid their towns of homeless dogs. Additionally, late last year, the Romanian government voted to legalize the euthanizing of stray dogs, with some officials stating that the dogs are a public health hazard. The law allows officials to round up homeless dogs from the street, hold them in shelters for thirty days, and then euthanize them. Many animal rights groups are fighting this, asking instead that funding for sterilization be increased. 4

Thankfully, some communities have shown a desire toward positive change and have since embraced spay and neuter programs to alleviate the issue surplus homeless dogs. However, not all municipalities have the monetary backing to implement such programs, and instead, they “manage” the situation by rounding up stray dogs and driving them into other towns or rural areas, where they leave them.3

“There is no national program to educate people in responsible pet ownership and in compassion towards animals” 3

Three woman, Anneka Tanaka-Svenska, Pola Pospieszalska, and Victoria Eisermann saw the need for stray homeless dogs to be rescued and given a forever home, so they established K-9 Angels, a non-profit organization that works to do just that. They work to make the adoption of Romanian stray animals an easy and painless process, and they find foster homes for dogs that are in danger. They are also working on starting their own vaccination program for dogs, as ‚Ä®well as a spay and neuter program. On average, they save approximately forty‚Ä® dogs a month alongside Romanian Animal Aid.

Knowing they can make a difference, Anneka, Pola, and Victoria intend on branching outside of Europe. They intend on working towards ending the dog meat industries in Vietnam and China. One way they hope to do this is by re-educating the youth of China, and teaching them that dogs should be friends, not food. To learn more about the K-9 Angels, you can visit their website or their Facebook page.