On the 29th January 2017, Angels for the Innocent, joined GreenWorldTV & IAPWA (International Aid for the Protection and Welfare of Animals) on a mercy mission to Romania.
The reason for the trip was to film the plight of the Romanian street dogs and to bring their terrible suffering to a wider global audience. What we witnessed shocked everyone in the team and heightened the urgency of why the country desperately needs support and new legislation to protect its animals.
In Romania today there are around 64,000 feral dogs in Bucharest alone. The dog population arose as a result of systematization, a policy imposed during the Communist regime that ruled Romania for decades. Systematization forced people to move into apartment blocks and abandon their dogs.
Torture and Mutilation
During our trip, we visited a charitable vet practice Dog Rescue Romania headed up by husband and wife vets Garofita and Rudi Hofman. It was clear that the couple devoted their life to providing free vet care for as many of the Bucharest street dogs as possible. They stand by their word that no dog is ever released back onto the streets and if it cannot be treated and adopted, it would be cared for in their own sanctuary.
We witnessed dogs with heart-breaking injuries, paralysis and medical conditions. Two men burst in with a dog who had been tragically run over and the vets fought for over an hour to save the dog before he died on their table.
Nothing was to prepare us for what was to come next and shortly after a female German Shepherd was rushed into the practice with some of the worst injuries ever seen – a victim of the most harrowing and extreme torture. The gentle old street dog had been beaten, partially dismembered and sexually abused with a knife. Even her teeth had been cruelly extracted. The vets fought hard and did everything they could to treat her and to pull her out of her critical condition.
The lady who found the dog, passed through every day to feed the strays and told AFI’s Director Anneka on film that she had found three dead puppies in the same place as the mutilated shepherd that week, one cut in half, another’s with its skull caved in and the third disembowelled. When she fell upon the German Shepherd, which she felt had been ‘carefully placed’, as if left their for her to find, she immediately took it as a sign that someone was trying to signal to her to stop feeding the street dogs.
When questioned to whether she felt the police would intervene, she said that she was not hopeful as in Romania there are no animal welfare laws upheld to protect stray dogs. Despite the evidently dangerous attacker and the risk he could pose to children and women, she still felt that the Romanian police were unable to act.
The dog has been named ‘Spirit’ and is on her way to a complete recovery thanks to vets Dog Rescue Romania. The dog will travel to the UK later in the year and be rehomed.
Call to Action
Once AFI and IAPWA had returned to the UK we wanted to take immediate action to prevent more dogs having to suffer horrendous torture as in the case of the mutilated dog and we are planning to create a petition to ask for changes in legislation, alongside Romanian lobbying organisations and charities in order to improve the welfare of street dogs and the prosecution of individual engaged in abuse and cruelty.
AFI & IAPWA will be looking to:
- Reinforcement and strengthening of animal protection legislation for dogs
- Enforcement of penalties for crimes committed against dogs
- Improvement in standards of animal welfare provided to dogs in pounds
- A collaborative neutering campaign to reduce the number of strays suffering
Spirit has not been an isolated case of torture and mutilation in Romania and dogs have been reported regularly as victims of horrific mutilation. Dog Rescue Romania, the vets treating Sprit have said that it is a regular occurrence to see dogs tied up and tortured.
IAPWA & AFI intends to approach the Prime Minister of Romania, Sorin Grindeanu and the Mayor of Bucharest Gabriela Firea to ask for support for this issues and to discuss changes to protect the strays. A neutering scheme will also be discussed to significantly reduce the number of strays, thus preventing their suffering, alongside education initiatives to create long term change.