Behind every dog’s story is the story of a person. And that is more vivid in Romania than anywhere else in the world. There are so many stray dogs in Romania. In Bucharest, the capital city, you will find groups of dogs on every block.
In a country as poor as Romania, dogs scavenge for food and often attack the chickens of a poor family. So dogs threaten a family’s life, and people hunt, poison and torture them because of it. And yet in 2005 a stray dog in Romania stood guard over a freezing baby girl in the park, even as it alerted passersby that the child was hidden in a plastic bag under a table.
The story of stray dogs is linked to the story of Nicolae Ceausescu, the country’s former dictator who built a personality cult around himself, made horrible economic decisions and drove the country to extreme poverty.
Under Ceausescu houses with gardens were torn down and replaced with small apartments where the people were forced to live. There was no room for their dogs, who were left in the streets and repopulated to where they are today. Ceausescu was killed in 1989 but the dogs remain. Dog food is equal to the cost of luxury food in this poor country. So you see mixed shepherd and lab dogs, or mixed terrier poodles.
In city dog pounds where kennels are overcrowded dogs eat each other to survive. Thousands are killed with rocks, sticks and poison. On the streets dogs are hung or shot.
We hope now that Romania will rediscover its wealth. As part of the European Union they have a chance at doing that. But it is taking very long and we hope that in due time Romania will be sufficiently prosperous to the point that they can enjoy a good life and appreciate the love of dogs in their families once again.