The Intergroup has written three letters to the President of Romania. In their first letter dated 6.8.2013, the Intergroup wrote, among others:
"In 2011 a large majority of the European Parliament adopted the by Daciana Octavia Sârbu, Adina-Ioana Vălean, Elisabeth Jeggle, Raül Romeva i Rueda, Janusz Wojciechowskion dog population management in the European Union which calls on Member States to adopt comprehensive dog population management strategies which include measures such as dog control and anti-cruelty laws, support for veterinary procedures including rabies vaccination and sterilisation as necessary to control the number of unwanted dogs, and the promotion of responsible pet ownership.
A large majority of Romanian MEPs have also signed this declaration. Your call for a systematic mass killing of strays goes against the will of the democratically elected Romanian MEPs. This is something which we consider as profoundly undemocratic and unacceptable in the European Union.
The Members of the Animal Welfare Intergroup undersigning this letter call on you not to promote the legalisation of systematic mass euthanasia of stray dogs. This will cause a horrible and useless massacre of dogs which goes against the values and objectives of the Treaty on the functioning of the European Union."
*It is with great sadness and concern that Members of the European Parliament Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals address their second letter to you after their first appeal of last week was ignored.
We acknowledge and respect the Romanian Parliament’s adoption of a law which will allow local authorities to apply euthanasia of dogs that have stayed more than 14 days in a shelter.
The Romanian authorities will have now the duty and responsibility to enforce the law in a civilised and non-cruel way but given the sheer number of stray dogs in Bucharest and the whole of the country we have serious doubts that it will be possible.
We are concerned that it will end in a brutal massacre of dogs and would therefore like inquire if there exists already a strategy on how to apply the euthanasia campaign. If yes, we would like to have the details. Will it include as well dogs that have already been neutered? When and how will it be enforced? We hope that you will be able to provide us this information.
The very large stray dog populations in Romania are the result of bad management practices. Since many years NGOs have called to invest in systematic neutering campaigns and in education programmes for responsible dog ownership. This has been generally ignored and has resulted in the current situation.
The Members of the European Parliament are flooded with messages from concerned people throughout the world who urge us for help in order to avoid a massacre of the Romanian stray dogs.
We call on you and all competent authorities to ensure that uncontrolled killings of stray dogs will be avoided. Even though the European Union has little to say when it comes to companion animals it would be a shame before the international community to admit that cruel mass slaughters of dogs can still happen in the European Union of the 21st century.
"EP Animal Welfare Intergroup Members regret that no reply has been given so far to our correspondence of last month which would be very helpful for clarifications.
The recently adopted law amending and supplementing the Government Emergency Ordinance no. 155/2001 on the approval of a stray dogs management program stipulates a range of conditions and standards relating to the capture, transport, housing, identification, vaccination, sterilisation, registration, adoption and euthanasia of strays.
If the decision to euthanize a dog is taken, it must be carried out by veterinary personnel and in accordance with established and accepted practices. The law also specifies that the process of euthanasia must be quick and painless. It also confirms that shelters with the capacity and resources may continue to house strays for an indefinite period of time, and the animals may be returned to their owners (if they are identified) or adopted at any time.
These requirements don’t differ very much from what is practiced in other EU Member States but there remain concerns whether the law is enforceable as such under the given conditions.
– Will the municipalities have the sufficient means to respect all requirements of the law? – Will it be possible to apply still neutering and release campaigns?
We assume that a lot will depend on the decisions taken by the municipalities. It seems that several mayors of Romanian cities have already stated publicly that they will avoid the euthanasia of strays, if at all possible. The Mayor of Bucharest expressed his commitment to urgently increase the capacity of dog shelters and to actively encourage adoption by promoting more education and a culture of adoption. We hope that these commitments will be held and that those authorities that will apply euthanasia campaigns will be obliged to operate within the strict confines of the law.
For the correct enforcement of the law it will be unavoidable to carry out inspections and to apply deterrent penalties for all those who infringe it. We hope that this will be foreseen to avoid cruelty to the dogs as much as possible.
We hope as well that the actions taken will be part of a comprehensive and humane, long-term population strategy.
As a member of the OIE, Romania is also responsible for implementing OIE recommendations. The OIE rules foresee that the killing of stray dogs should not be the only method of controlling the population and if killing is the last option, then it has to be done in a humane way along with other measures. This is also highlighted in Commissioner Tonio Borg’s letter to the Romanian Minister for Health.
We are aware that a lot of unsubstantiated ‘evidence’ of perpetrated cruelties has been circulating during the last weeks and that it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between reliable information and invented horrors.
It remains though the fact that Romania, as several other EU Member States, has massive problems with stray dog populations and that everything has to be done to promote and implement humane management measures for strays as it was expressed in the European Parliament’s written declaration 26/2011 on dog population management in the European Union.
We urge you not to push for the euthanasia option, and to encourage the Mayors to choose the best solution for their municipality which avoids animal cruelty and takes dogs off the streets.
In your role as President you can act as mediator and work towards reducing the current polarization in Romanian society which exists around the issue of dogs, especially by promoting a responsible model of dog ownership in order to encourage a long-term solution to the issue of stray dogs in Romania.
Please rest assured of our solidarity for the handling of this difficult situation."
EU Commissioner Tonio Borg writes to the Romanian Minister of Health
The European Commission replies to complaints regarding the welfare and and management of homeless dogs in Romania
As the European Commission has received many complaints about the welfare and management of stray dogs in Romania, it decided to respond in form of an official communication, published in the Official Journal of the European Union, on 23.11.2013. You can read their response below.
Mr Wojciechowski said: "The new Law has not solved the problem - it has exacerbated it!"
On December 4, 2013, a delegation of the European Parliament went to Romania and had some meetings with Romanian officials ANSVSA- Sanitary-Veterinary and Food Safety National Authority and the Mayor of Bucharest. The delegation members were assured that the law on dog management was a law on "adoption, not on "euthanasia" and the citizens had access to public shelters which were totally transparent and complying with the law
On January 28, 2013, the delegation returned to Romania in order to inform themselves on the situation directly on site by visiting as well dog shelters of the city halls.
The Delegation found that there was a major discrepancy between what the authorities had told them during their first visit and what they found on site during their second visit.
On 12th of February, 2014, the Vice-Chairman of the AGRI Committee and Vice-Chairman of the Animal Welfare Intergroup, MEP Janusz WOJCIECHOWSKI (ECR) together with the Vice-Chairman of the Animal Welfare Intergroup MEP Andrea ZANONI (ALDE) hosted a press conference in relation to their recent visit to Romania.
MEPs addressed concerns regarding the situation of stray dogs in light of the recently adopted Stray Dogs Euthanasia Law by the Parliament of Romania aimed at culling the stray population, and presented their reflections and conclusions and put forward plans, recommendations and possible initiatives in search of a solution on how to address the issue.
"Romania is not the right destination choice for tourists as Romania is now below any civilization standard" Mr Janusz Wojciechowski, President of the European Parliament's Intergroup on Animal Welfare
The 'Legal Letter' from 23rd of January, 2014
On 23 January, 2014, 211 European organizations co-signed a letter to the European Commission, drafted by the legal team of the European Communications Team, urging the Commission to finally intervene in the cruel treatment of dogs in Romania.
The letter demonstrates clearly that the European Commission has the legal competence – and a legal duty - to intervene. According to independent legal research, the EU Commission has legal competence to intervene in the ongoing cruelties directed at Romania’s surplus dog population. The legal competence is not based on animal welfare (ARTICLE 13) ALONE, but IN PARTICULAR ON public health (ARTICLE 168).
Romania’s rabies eradication program is co-financed by the EU. The “control of the population of dogs” was explicitly listed among the measures agreed to be implemented under the program. In fact, in Romania, Article 1 of the recently-adopted Methodological Norms (enabling the culling of the dogs in practice) clarifies as follows:
“The purpose of the present norms is to reduce the number of stray dogs,…, to reduce the occurrence of rabies and other zoonoses, to reduce the risk to human health”.
This applies notably to the Regional Operational Program, as co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund. Under the Regional Operational Program alone, as co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund, the amount of 3,7 billion euros have been granted to Romania during the period 2007-2013. The total amount invested by the EU into Romania under Cohesion Policy 2007 – 2013 is understood to be approximately 20 billion euros.
To date, the Commission has stated that it is “not aware of misuse of EU funds in relation to the killing of dogs in Romania”. The Commission has also stated that “according to the information received from the managing authority of the 2007-2013 regional program, none of the projects selected for financing include specific objectives related to stray dogs”.
BUT, in view of the millions of euros of public funds that the local authorities in Romania are spending on the Catch & Kill program, how does the Commission explain the origins of the funds?
What measures has the Commission taken in order to ascertain that EU funds granted to local administrations are not, directly or indirectly, being used for dog-related purposes under the pretext of, for instance, enhancing public health, public safety, tourism or employment?
Luxembourgian MEP, Claude Turmes (Dèi Grèng) who appeared on national Luxembourgian TV RTL, in an excellent video-report made by RTL-reporter, Violetta Calderelli, agreed with the European Communications Team's claim that the Romanian stray animal eradication program falls under EU-competence, but that it cannot be that the millions of EU-funds that Romania receives each year to eradicate rabies, would be used to fund such an inhumane and ineffective stray animal population strategy. Mr Turmes agreed also, that the Commission should freeze this funding until Romania enacts a humane, cost-effective stray animal control strategy in accordance with international best practice.
1. Does the Commission agree that it has legal competence to intervene in the issue of Romanian dogs based on EU legislation on Public Health? (If not, why not?)
2. Does Romania’s Rabies Eradication Programme mention dog population control among the measures to be carried out?
3. Does the Commission agree that Romania’s Rabies Eradication Programme should urgently be clarified by way of an explicit condition as follows: Romania must implement long-term measures at the national level for the management of the dog population in accordance with international best practice. In other words, the current “Catch & Kill” policy should be replaced by more efficient and humane measures. (If not, why not?)
4. Does the Commission continue to exclude the possibility that EU funds are, directly or indirectly, being used to finance the multi-million euro “Catch & Kill” dog management business in Romania via local administration budgets? (If so, on what grounds?)
In addition, a petition signed by 27.819 people, was submitted for official registration to the EU Parliament's Committee on Petition, and was declared admissible on 23 December 2014.