Romanian tragedy: culling street dogs isn’t the solution

Street dogs are a major problem in communities throughout the world.Last week, 4-year-old Ionuţ Anghel and his 6-year-old brother were attacked by dogs in a park in Bucharest. His brother escaped with wounds, but Ionuţ was killed, his body found some distance away.

As a mother of two young boys, I can hardly allow myself to imagine the horror of his parents as they helplessly watched their child taken by dogs inside their own city. I grieve for his family, and for every parent who lives in fear of losing their child this way. It is not difficult to imagine that every parent in Bucharest is feeling a powerful drive to do whatever it takes to protect their own children from this very real threat so close to home.

From that perspective, I understand why the citizens of Bucharest are demanding immediate action be taken to address the street dog problem.

I would demand it, too, if it were my children’s home.

But as a mother, I not only want to protect my children, but ensure that the future I am leaving for them is brighter, safer and more peaceful, and this is why the inappropriate proposal by Romanian President Băsescu to kill all the dogs on the streets is so short-sighted.

We have worked in hundreds of communities across six continents, and never have we seen killing dogs to be an effective solution to this problem. In fact, not only does culling fail to address the underlying causes of dogs being on the street in the first place (which may include lost, abandoned or loosely owned dogs, not to mention breeding), but the “solution” of killing dogs inevitably creates even more conflict within the community, preventing more effective, long-term solutions from taking root.

The only approach we have found to be effective is one that takes the entire community into account – from those who own or feed street dogs to those who fear them – and devises solutions to address the community’s needs and wishes. Often, this includes a mix of approaches including education, sterilization, registration and/or short-term sheltering; each community’s resources and perspectives are unique, and so then are their solutions.

I want a safe community for my children to live in, just as the citizens of Bucharest do. That is why I have written to President Băsescu asking him to reconsider the referendum on culling and offering IFAW’s assistance in developing a humane, community-centered solution to prevent further tragedies like the death of Ionuţ and build the kind of community his brother will want to grow up in.

I would encourage you to join us in offering condolences to the citizens of Bucharest in the comments below, and encourage them to adopt humane community action plans to address their street dog concerns.


For more information about our efforts to protect cats and dogs, visit our campaign page.

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Azzedine Downes,IFAW President and CEO
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