Drobeta-Turnu Severin, the capital city of Mehedinti county, stands on the banks of the Danube, close to the Iron Gate Gorge in south-western Romania. It has a long and illustrious history, dating back as far as the 2nd Century AD attracting ample tourism. Much of that is soon to be overshadowed by the actions of its current Mayor, Constantin Gheorghe.
Foreign visitors to Romania should be aware of the gruesome secrets of the local dog pound. Disturbing footage here shows the extent of the horrific neglect. Despite receiving 9700 Euros per month from City Hall, in 2008, dog carcasses where found by a volunteer at the local pound. Most of them were eaten by other dogs due to long term starvation. No reasonable foreign visitor would approve of this kind of disgraceful neglect. It is clear, basic care is impossible for this local dog pound.
As many readers will know, a recent change in Romanian law means local lawmakers are in a position to order the destruction of stray dogs in the country's pounds if a home cannot be found for them after just 14 days in captivity. Some Mayors have fizzed with enthusiasm at this new rule announcing their intent to kill innocent defenceless creatures. The Mayor of Botosani was one such man who gleefully admitted to terminating dogs before the law . His colleague, the Mayor of Constanta followed on with his announcement . Everyone has remained unimpressed since his frivolous stunt a few weeks ago. He dressed up as a dog catcher with an entourage of belly dancers, samba music, and feathers - all for the entertainment of the tourists. Few were amused by the flippant insensitive immature nature of these individuals in power. Perhaps Mayor Gheorghe wishes to boost the tourism in his area by waving his castanets to the Death March now.
On the 16th October 2013, Mayor Gheorghe, announced that his administration would be the first to go ahead with the so-called slaughter law.
His callous decision encompasses all dogs in the county's pounds, including puppies, pregnant bitches, friendly and inherently social animals - creatures that are, in all probability, lost pets rather than feral street dogs. The result will be 577 dogs put to death, their lives ended by lethal injection a mere 14 days after being taken into captivity.
Mayor Gheorghe justifies this mass extermination on the grounds of economics. It is not right, he says, to spend money on feeding and housing stray dogs, when the money could be spent instead on caring for needy human beings. Clearly, Constantin Gheorghe is unfamiliar with the concept of humane treatment, which emphasises kindness, compassion and benevolence. With great power comes great responsibility. What does his zest to kill defenceless creatures tell us about his decision making ability in other areas? Will all his decisions be based on ill thought out economics? His decision demonstrates quite clearly that he has no respect for the life of any creature great or small. This absence of empathy and kindness should concern the local population. The spotlight has fallen on this Mayor because he is the kind of man who should not be in a position of responsibility. His victims, the voiceless and defenceless, are at his mercy today. Who will be at his mercy tomorrow? The disabled, the stroke victim, the orphan, the homeless, the ill patient?
Interestingly, the Mayor is also confident that his administration has almost "dealt with" the county's stray dog problem, feeling that it is now "under control". No legitimate evidence of this has been provided. Could it be that this is little more than a wily politician's ploy to assuage dissent while, at the same time, claiming to be carrying out his stated policies without hesitation? After all, according to the local media article referenced above, the county spends at most a mere 1,300,000 LEI per year, or around 100,000 per month, on maintaining stray dogs - a barely significant sum in the context of an entire county's budget.
Whatever the truth may be, Mayor Gheorghe appears to be proud of doing what he feels needs to be done, despite the storm of protest that his decision has raised, both locally in Romania and in the wider world via social media. The campaign group, Occupy for Animals, has drafted an open letter and petition, which concerned individuals are encouraged to sign and send to the Mayor, in the hope that he will rethink this brutal, inhumane and illogical policy before it is too late.
Mayor Gheorghe's actions appear to be setting a dangerous precedent for the rest of the Mayors in Romania. The license to kill appears to be given to those who have recklessly abused their power for many years. Combined with the absence of accountability, the abuse of power will result in endless dog corpses.
This Mayor is just one of many cruel cold callous powerful individuals in Romania who have lost their consciences and their ability to distinguish between right and wrong. Their material world is now stained with the blood of the vulnerable and helpless. It is just a matter of time before this type of decision making extends to humans where the right to life is measured on a cold calculated financial balance sheet.
"Never, never be afraid to do what's right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society's punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.― Martin Luther King J "