Opinion: Romania – dog-catchers attack German animal-rights activists

1306101_origFor several weeks, the German animal-rights organization Animals United has been receiving information on near-rioting conditions in Bucharest, Romania, from various sources. Under the pretext of civil safety, dogs are caught and sometimes even violently snatched from their owners in order to receive a bounty equal to 50 per dog, according to Animals United.

Afterwards they are brought to ‘shelters’ – frequently a euphemism for dog killing camps. In order to get an idea of the current situation in Bucharest, Animals United decided to take action and support the work of the Romanian animal-rights activist Claudiu Dumitru for some days. Last night, two members of Animals United, among them a 70-year-old board member and the Romanian animal-rights activist, were lead into a trap during their observations in their car and brutally attacked and injured by members of the local institution ASPA (Autoritatea pentru Supravegherea si Protectia Animalelor).

Together with his team Dumitriu, a recognized Romanian animal-rights activist, reached a legally binding agreement that animal-rights activists are allowed to accompany the dog-catchers of the ASPA – a measure to increase transparency. The members of the ASPA, however, do their utmost to discourage the animal-rights activists. Trying to keep the capture actions hidden, they are started at nightfall escorted by the local police. Convoys of several cars overrun red lights with high speed in order to shake off the animal-rights activists.

The special forces of the local police are hooded and masked, they threaten to use pepper spray and keep trying to block the cars of the animal-rights activists to enable the dog-catchers to drive on untroubledly and strike by catching dogs. Intimidation and threats by the ASPA employees are happening daily. In order to save at least some animals from being killed, the German and the local animal-rights activists pursued the ASPA last night to document the events and to warn dog owners. The convoy could be stopped several times and dogs could be saved from the dog-catchers at the very last moment through the intervention of the animal-rights activists, who screamed loudly and protected the dogs. Many citizens of Bucharest supported them with loud screaming.

The activists of Animals United could not foresee that their work would end with a car chase through the city, which lasted several hours and during which the dog-catchers kept obsessively watching out for free-running dogs. Their clear intention was to find unguarded free-running house dogs. There was no trace of an alleged number of 40,000 stray dogs – an amount used to justify the actions of the ASPA. Two cars of the local police drove in front of respectively behind the car of the activists in a narrow street.

The police car in the front took up speed at the next crossroad and   disappeared behind the next bend. When the car of the animal-rights activists arrived at the crossroad, the activist were attacked by the employees of the ASPA. Viktor Gebhart, one of the animal-rights activists, described the incidents: “We were following the cars of the ASPA, when six dog-catchers suddenly ran towards our moving car. They jumped on the windscreen and bashed it with their feet, elbows and hands until it broke.” One of them even managed to slap him in the face when he tried to film the incident with his mobile phone. The injuries on his head and legs had to be treated by an emergency physician afterwards. The most shocking fact is that the attack took place in the presence of the local police, who failed to intervene in the fight between the passengers with the extremely aggressive attackers, which went on for five minutes at least.

The Romanian authorities are urgently requested to start neutering projects, to inform the citizens, to address the problem by the root and to stop the current measures immediately, which have only led to violence and greed for profit. Romania is an EU country in the 21st century, which must act accordingly. The European Union must not stand and watch when sentient beings are treated like this. “It is not acceptable that German citizens, who exercise their democratic rights peacefully, are attacked and beaten in a European country before the eyes of the local police without any intervention. Romania but also Germany and especially the European Union have to take action in order to become aware of their responsibility for the welfare of the citizens. This goes for human as well as non-human beings. Violence must not be tolerated,” said Gebhart after his treatment in the ambulance. “The Romanian media have already reported extensively on last night’s incidents. It’s about time for Germany and Europe to open their eyes and ears and take action! Because compassion is not enough!”

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(The person in the black-and-white Animals United T-shirt in the interviews is Viktor Gebhart)

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Category: A Frontpage, Animal welfare, Opinion, Uncategorized

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