Romania is home to hundreds of thousands of stray dogs, nicknamed ‘vagabonds’. Bucharest has an estimated 60,000 dogs on the streets, the highest number for any city in Europe! Animal lovers and authorities all identify the same reason for the large number of stray dogs: a lack of effective programs to sterilise dogs compounded by a constant practice of abandoning unwanted puppies and adult dogs.
Strays, thought of as a public nuisance are rounded up from the streets throughout Romania – for the dog-catchers, this is a lucrative business. Using poles attached to a metal noose and armed with sticks, the dogs are sought out, many dogs are beaten and die from their injuries, before they even arrive at the public shelters. The dogs are unloaded by pole and are thrown into dirty, overcrowded cells, the dogs already existing in the shelters are in general severely malnourished, sick and traumatised. Males are mixed with females, resulting in further breeding within the shelters.
The conditions in the majority of these public shelters are truly barbaric, offering inadequate space or housing and the shelter employees showing little care for the animals – untrained and on low wages, most will not even provide food and water on a regular basis, many shelters don’t feed the dogs at all, and they are routinely killed after 14 days.
Lost and abandoned pets often end up here and are thrown in with the street dogs, big and small together; many are killed in fights over food in the overcrowded conditions.
Those that are not captured and sent to these hellish, brutal conditions, are left to survive by scavenging on the streets or on waste-grounds , sheltering in ditches, under cars or the stairwells of apartment blocks, where they are routinely stoned, beaten, mutilated, attacked with acid, poisoned or shot . No protection is offered or enforced by the limited animal welfare laws.
We know it is impossible to rescue every dog from the public shelters and streets of Romania, however, through Annie’s Trust, we have chosen to make a real difference for the dogs in one particular public shelter in the city of Adjud, Eastern Romania and for the strays living in the local area.