You’ve probably heard about Bucharest dogs. One way or another, Bucharest was linked for decades to different issues regarding abandoned dogs, from safety point of views, animal rights, the incapacity of the governors to deal with the problem or the Romanian public opinion on the subject, ranging from empathy to hatred.
Have you ever visited Bucharest? You have then probably seen dogs almost everywhere in the streets and pretty sure you were kind of scared and thought it looked odd, but we bet nothing else happened.
Most of people in Bucharest got used to it. So when the strange feelings disappear you start looking at them as your extended property – they are called in the media community dogs – you see them next to your residential building, in your bus station, in front of the butcher’s store or next to your fast-food on the street corner. You start giving them names, cuddle them, sometimes feed them and talk to them as you sometimes talk to your own dog. This extended, common property makes you consider them all right, even if you know this is not the way things should be.
What comes after some dogs bite to death a child? This huge media scandal made people split and get angry with each other. Protests came across large central boulevards in Bucharest. Family guys, horrified this might happen to their own children, people once bitten by a dog or scared this event could have occurred at a certain moment in their lives, pretty ladies that stepped on a dog poop in the street and ruined their best pair of shoes and missed a romantic dinner and so on. On the other side of the protests, people were standing for the animal rights. They also have their personal motivation – usually they are pet owners, active fighters for civil rights, their empathy with the canine fate is justified by the so-called humanitarianism. Dog haters accused them for using stray dogs to motivate their need to be a better person. Dog supporters accused dog haters to having lost their sense of compassion. And so on.
This big social dispute ended up in nightmare scenarios. Some “active citizens” abused their rights as co-owners of the community dogs and decided to extinct them by their own means. Dog carnage showed up all over the internet. Those guys stood for what they considered to be their rights and mass poisoned the dogs in the streets in what was heard across the world now to be an Auschwitz of the Romanian dogs. Foreigners started to post on forums and social media their disgust and disapproval and menaced the Romanian authorities to start a boycott over tourism in Romania.
Meanwhile, the Romanian authorities, scared as hell by the public opinion and the negative waves across the world, decided to “finally handle” the situation. But, hey, they acted like this problem came from nowhere. They acted as day one of stray dogs on the streets. They acted like huge funds pumped in this program never existed. They asked the citizens: you don’t want stray dogs anymore? Fine, so let’s kill them quickly. Forget about we were sucking up your money for decades in order to solve this issue in a proper manner, with dogs shelters, canine assistance and population control in households. Now you won’t be asking about what happened to those funds.
We are sure the eye-for-an-eye attitude wouldn’t solve the problem on the long run, nor the family of the poor child gets justice with blood. It only shows that we have to grow up and question ourselves why this could happen in an EU country, why the politicians are still getting away without paying, why problems of great importance for the citizens are ignored until something awful happens, while public money destined for solving the problem in the first place went to someone’s private pockets through corrupted contracts that supposed to mathematically solve it: how many dogs, how many shelters needed, how much is the food and the assistance per dog. It is no doubt that a capable mayor would have solved this in few months, 20 years ago, making everybody happy.
Bucharest Tips started last year a photo-documentary about the stray dogs of Bucharest, aiming to turn the issue of abandoned dogs into a less scary myth for tourists willing to visit the city. We took photos of each stray dog met in the street and gave them names. Now, most of the dogs are not there anymore, so this documentary became the documentary of a pitiful absence.