The international animal welfare organisation VIER PFOTEN/FOUR PAWS has announced that the Bucharest Court of Appeal has accepted the validity of the legal complaint they presented, and consequently suspended the application norms of the ‘killing law’ hastily approved in September last year after the death of a boy allegedly mauled by stray dogs in Bucharest. This law, approved by the Romanian Parliament, allows the killing of healthy dogs for overpopulation control. With immediate effect in Romania, the ‘killing law’ has no applicable norms, and so there is no longer any legal framework for the capture and killing of stray dogs.


Stray dogs - Romania, 2013

Stray dogs - Romania, 2013

The Court of Appeal will now discuss the content of the complaint, which contains references to many aspects of the norms, from the ways in which dogs can be killed to the opening times of public shelters. If the Court decides that the killing of healthy dogs contravenes the country’s overarching legislation, a review of the guidelines – and possibly of the law – will be necessary.


Since January 2014, VIER PFOTEN/FOUR PAWS has been challenging the methodological norms, claiming that there are several aspects to it that contradict laws of higher force.


The law that allows the killing of healthy dogs came into force in October 2013, and its implementation norms followed in December. Soon after that, the mass killing started. Many thousands of stray dogs have been killed already.


On 9 April, a letter was sent by the AnimalWelfareAndTrade director, Adolfo Sansolini, to the Ambassador of Romania to the United Kingdom, Mr Ion Jinga, to protest against the treatment of dogs in Romania since the approval of the new law. The Ambassador replied that the Romanian law was in line with those already in place in other countries, and that the Romanian authorities were keen to cooperate with international animal welfare NGOs as their preferred solution, rather than killing the animals.


Sadly, reports over the past few months from organisations such as VIER PFOTEN/FOUR PAWS and Save The Dogs have repeatedly shown a very different reality: thousands of healthy dogs have been killed, while activities to develop responsible ownership and prevent abandonment are at best still at an embryonic state.


In April 2014, the European Policy Office of VIER PFOTEN/FOUR PAWS organised in Brussels an Expert workshop on stray animals in Europe, whose conclusions contained a direct criticism of the way Romania is treating its dogs:

“The happenings in Romania have been criticised heavily by all participants. The way stray dogs are treated at the moment in Romania stands in clear conflict to the Rule of Law and is infringing our European values.”


Hopefully, the pronouncement of the Bucharest Court of Appeal will open a new chapter in this sad story, and proper activities to promote responsible ownership and prevent abandonment could be adopted by the Romanian authorities, as an alternative to the killing of healthy animals.


You can read more on the Court of Appeal decision on the VIER PFOTEN/FOUR PAWS European Policy Office website.