An estimated 60,000 stray dogs roam the Romanian capital Bucharest, which is struggling to handle its growing homeless canine population.
Thousands of people are bitten by Bucharest's stray dogs every year. But the problem gained a new sense of urgency last September, when a child was mauled to death by a stray. Since then, Parliament overwhelmingly backed a new law that allows authorities to euthanize the dogs they catch in public spaces as long as a home can't be found within two weeks.
The problem started when former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu moved 40,000 peoplefrom older, lower-density housing into modern apartments towers, many of which did not allow dogs.As a result, thousands of canines were suddenly forced to fend for themselves.
As Feargus O'Sullivan pointed out last year, the city's feral dog population truly spun out of control only after the country's 1989 revolution. Ceausescu left Romania in an incredible amount of debt. The limited government funds made expensive initiatives to solve the dog problem politically untenable. Neutering initiatives can't keep up with the feral dog birthrate.
Reuters photographer Bogdan Cristel has witnessed his country's stray dog problem firsthand. He grew up with pet dogs in his family's garden, and saw how Ceausescu's urban renewal initiatives affected his family canine. Cristel recently documented today's efforts to capture and save these animals on Reuters' "Photographer Blog", showing, not only Bucharest's dog catchers at work but the individuals helping to find homes for these strays as well:
Top image: A stray dog is taken from the street by dog catchers in Bucharest April 3, 2014. (REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel)