The fact-finding mission of MEPs Janusz Wojciechowski and Andrea Zanoni have blasted the myth of any improvements for Romanian stray dogs. The scenes of extreme cruelty, stories of shocked witnesses describing massacres in dogs’ ‘shelters’ that resemble concentration camps (pictured) – all this morbid evidence has reopened the debate on the fate of 100,000 dogs in ‘new’ Romania. The latest governmental regulations have firmly blocked the adoption process, and canine slaughter is becoming increasingly profitable.
While multiple European animal protection associations have sent money to Romanian shelters, they were not aware of the fraud taking place – after pictures are taken, the dogs are brutally slaughtered in their cages with sticks and spades, and the money provided goes to the false care-givers. Some are even left to die without food and water…
“They are gangsters. It is the mafia who has taken advantage of the situation. It is a profitable business to fill pockets and destroy victims,’’ a Romanian activist told EU Reporter, following an MEPs’ press conference on 12 February. “Moreover, the criminals are opposing the sterilization policy as it would shut down a source of future income.”
There was a brief pause in atrocities following the pressure of public opinion, but then Commissioner Tonio Borg stepped in, explaining that he had “no tools to influence the situation”.
“The mafia understood this as ‘la carte blanche’ to go on with the massacre of dogs,” another activist added. The Commission’s reaction, describing the complaints “as grievances falling outside the scope of EU law” was taken to be Borg washing his hands of the affair, which subsequently provoked an atmosphere of toxic frustration during the First European Conference on the Welfare of Dogs and Cats in October 2013.
Many of participants felt indignant that the commissioner managed to avoid the most controversial issue of Romanian authorities ordering the massacre thousands of healthy and gentle stray dogs in response to one bitten child. Activists regard the Romanian strays taboo as sheer hypocrisy on the part of Borg, developing his thesis on “building a Europe that cares for companion animals”, while Romanian ‘care’ meant elimination.
The Commission’s incapability to stand tall for animal welfare by indulging the Romanian government in this way was a heavy blow. However, with 70 million homes having companion animals, European animal lovers form a substantial part of the electorate and they are running out of patience. They are entitled to raise a question if they agree to invest taxpayers’ money into a country that is openly stamping on the very same humane values for which the Union was created.
Perhaps UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage should send a bunch of flowers to Commissioner Borg – one glance at the massacre of caged Romanian dogs would speak volumes on disengagement from EU enlargement policy.
The elections are coming soon, and it will be the turn of European citizens to allow MEPs to “fall outside the scope” of their interest, if they are unable to respond to their grievances.
Come the ballot, we’ll see who has the last laugh!
Anna van Densky