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Was the Romanian Stray Dog Killing Law Based on False Information?

11/09/2014 15:48 BST | Updated 09/11/2014 10:59 GMT

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Romania's cruel government has been plagued with allegations of corruption and maladministration. It now finds itself accused of enacting a catastrophic killing law based on false information. International welfare organisation, Four Paws has uncovered evidence that reveals that a false claim may have led to the mass killing of innocent stray dogs.

The Killing Law came into force in October 2013 after a four year old boy was injured by dogs in Bucharest. Almost immediately and capitalising on the publicity that accompanied the case, it was announced that the death had been caused by stray dogs. These innocent animals were then demonised internationally as justification to introduce this law. At the time International animal welfare organisations objected to the law. Indeed, mass public protests were held all over the world. Despite this, the Romanian Parliament with persuasion by President Basescu adopted this law. The law was based on a knee jerk reaction without any scientific evidence. Not only did this law and negative publicity of stray dogs increase the level of cruelty but it resulted in needless mass slaughter of thousands of dogs. No one waited until the final investigations were over to determine how the death of the young boy was caused.

Supporters of the draconian law have continued to justify the killings, often using the tragic case of boy to bolster their argument. However, in an explosive turn of events, an official document of The Public Prosecutor's Office has now emerged and shows that the child was not killed by stray dogs, but by seven guard dogs owned by a local company, throwing doubt over the whole basis of the brutal legislation.

"It is outrageous how easily society got cheated and manipulated by emotions," stresses Gabriel Paun, Director of Campaigns at Four Paws. "The poor child was not killed by stray dogs, but tens of thousands of dogs have already paid the price of this misinformation with their lives, a solution which is both inhumane and ineffective and demonstrates the Government's inability to manage the situation properly."

Four Paws continued "The report contains the results of the investigations into the death of Ionut Anghel as a foundation for the official indictment of two entities and one individual: The Administration of Public Domain within the local council in the area in which the incident took place, the company responsible for the guard dogs, and the legal representative of that company. According to the indictment, the prosecutors filed manslaughter charges against these three persons. There is no mention of stray dogs being responsible for the death"

In Bucharest alone 16,000 stray dogs have been killed so far by the Bucharest municipality and 2,000 stray dogs are sheltered in public dog pounds. Furthermore, Băncescu acknowledged that half of these 16,000 dogs were killed illegally after the suspension of the framework for implementing the killing law.

Gabriel Paun went on to say: "President Basescu called Parliament to make a killing law and they did it in a week. Băncescu keeps killing dogs illegally and spending public money, while punching animal lovers who try stopping him, even if they are females. The mayor of Bucharest, Mr. Oprescu, supports him. Prime Minister Ponta remains silent. Something has gone terribly wrong in this country. We will take more legal steps here, starting with Răzvan Băncescu, who has admitted committing a crime by killing the stray dogs illegally."

Four Paws calls on Romanian Prime Minister to call off the killing law in light of new evidence which reveals strays are not to blame. Indeed, the government should instigate an immediate review of the faulty manner in which the killing law came into force. The European authorities have already criticised the Romanian government for the ineffectiveness of this killing law. They should take the lead and hold this government to account for unlawfully killing thousands of innocent stray dogs.

It is time justice was done. It is time to vindicate the reputation of the Romanian stray dogs. We therefore look to the European Parliament to act as a matter of urgency so that further cruelty and mistreatment of Romanian stray dogs can be prevented. The European authorities need to set an example to the rest of the world - that killing the innocent is unacceptable in modern society.