On Friday, 21st March 2014, several dog catchers from the Authority for the Supervision and Protection of Animals [ASPA] brutally raided the international animal welfare organisation's [Four Paws] shelter. Shocking images of the barbaric methods used by dog catchers have been splashed across social media over the weekend causing public uproar, and also leading to the creation of a petition to return the dogs to their shelter. The violent action was directed against the paddocks and the shelter in which the clinic is situated. Around 90 dogs were forcibly removed. According to several eye witnesses, at least four dogs died on the spot because of the aggressive handling.
The dogs under the care of Four Paws were neutered, micro-chipped and registered. Most of them were already adopted and ready to be transported to their new owners.
The action of the ASPA dog catchers who vandalised the shelter and the Vier Pfoten paddocks is told by an eye witness that witnessed the entire operation:
Cornel Constantin said, "At around 14:00, 13 ASPA vans came accompanied by policemen. They broke the lock at the entrance of the shelter and they began to destroy the paddock gates, which were locked. They simply destroyed everything. It's hard to describe how brutal
the methods used to catch the dogs were. I saw with my own eyes at least 2 dead dogs. After I protested, the dog catchers threatened to beat me. Meanwhile, the police looked at / witnessed all of this without doing anything. I told them that what is going on is not normal, that there are dead dogs. They just told me to relax. After they finished vandalising the shelter, they started destroying the 2 kennels of Vier Pfoten, which were next to the clinic. They trampled the gates and destroyed everything. Luckily I managed to get my 5 dogs that were in the shelter, that I squeezed into my own car"
The defenceless dogs were covered with blood, dragged with clubs and thrown in cramped cages. This was carried out in the presence of the local area police who did nothing. Four Paws said,
"Several dogs were badly injured and some of them died due to violent treatment. The number of the dead dogs is not clear, as we only have statements based on eye witnesses and smartphone quality video footage. At the moment, I think that there are 4 to 6 dead animals, but we will only know for sure after getting the dogs back. The animals choked to death, as catchers intentionally or by their incompetence tightened the lace too much while enforcing the animals. Many dogs, even if they didn't die, were bleeding through their mouth due to being brutally manipulated . Unconscious (or dead?) animals were enforced together with moving animals in small cages".
The true horrors meted out on harmless dogs by an organisation that claims to "Protect Animals" were exposed in broad daylight. Moreover. the film taken demonstrates their cruel, unacceptable and unsympathetic handling of defenceless animals that maybe common practice. The dog catchers were behaving more like "hit men" rather than respected members employed by a local authority. The fact that the ASPA is currently being investigated by the Romanian National Anti-Corruption Directorate (DNA) does not go in their favour at all [ Read the details here ] This is not the first time that Four Paws has clashed with the ASPA. In 2013, access to the clinic was blocked without due explanation.
This barbaric raid on Four Paws occurred following the MEP's damning indictment on the mistreatment of Romanian dogs. In addition, on the 10th March 2013, Four Paws took legal steps at the Court of Appeal in Bucharest for the Romanian Government to freeze the killing of stray dogs. The timing of this raid is, therefore, of interest.
Four Paws added,
"VIER PFOTEN has a legal contract ongoing with the 6th District City Hall for the stray dogs neutering project and for the use of the veterinary clinic. After their raid on Friday, ASPA representatives still forbid access in the facility. The way the City Hall of 6th District broke the Protocol is completely unexplainable, giving the fact that FOUR PAWS invested money from donations, a lot of effort and time in this project, which was requested by the City Hall. FOUR PAWS so far has neutered over 3,000 dogs in the 6th District. We filed a complaint to the police and we will open a legal action against ASPA. The main accusations: killing and cruelty against animals, theft, sequestration of private goods and vandalism."
More detailed reporting relating to the dispute can be found on Occupy For Animals.
On the 24th March 2014, rescuers arrived at the doorstep of Bragadiru public dog shelter. With ASPA's reputation firmly in the gutter and no law to justify their barbaric actions, the dogs were given back to the rescuers. In the interim, no apologies have been issued for the death of the harmless, vulnerable animals. Moreover, no investigation into the brutal conduct of the dog catchers has been announced.
Gabriel Paun, Director of Campaigns at FOUR PAWS bravely said,
"The dog catchers killed some, they injured others. We'll do our best to rescue those who survived the massacre again, and we hope to find loving families for them".
Undeterred by the current harassment they have been subjected to, Four Paws valiantly issued a petition asking Prime Minister Victor Ponta to squash all the laws that allow the mass killing of dogs.
Original Footage of the Raid on Four Paws
With thanks to Mr BL.