Catching and Saving Bucharest's Stray Dogs

More than 60,000 homeless canines roam the Romanian capital.

Image
Reuters

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 people from 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:

A dog catcher approaches a stray dog on a street in Bucharest April 3, 2014. (REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel)  
A stray dog is taken from the street by dog catchers in Bucharest April 3, 2014. (REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel)  
A woman embraces her dog that was taken from the streets by dog catchers who she tries to convince to release in Bucharest April 3, 2014. Her dog was later released by the dog catchers back to her. (REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel)  
A stray dog is taken from the street by dog catchers in Bucharest April 3, 2014. (REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel)  
A dog catcher arranges cages with stray dogs taken from the streets in Bucharest April 3, 2014. (REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel)  
Dog catchers put stray dogs taken from the streets of Bucharest into their cages at a shelter in Mihailesti April 3, 2014. (REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel)  
Ana-Maria Ciulcu takes pictures of a dog she rescued from the streets of Bucharest while a veterinary doctor makes him a vaccine in Bucharest March 28, 2014. Ana-Maria is just 13 years-old and she had the idea of using social media to find people willing to adopt a stray dog. Different from other children her age, she uses all her free time to save stray dogs. Her Facebook page turned into an adoption centre, very successful until now, with more than 150 dogs sent abroad to animal lovers mainly from Germany, Austria and Belgium. Picture taken March 28, 2014. (REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel)  
Ana-Maria Ciulcu pets Pedro, a dog rescued from a shelter, while observing her Facebook page in Bucharest April 12, 2014. (REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel)  
Ana-Maria Ciulcu holds European Union pets passports in Bucharest April 12, 2014. (REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel)  

Top image: A stray dog is taken from the street by dog catchers in Bucharest April 3, 2014. (REUTERS/Bogdan Cristel) 

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