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Bucharest
January 23, 2022
POLITICS

Oprescu wants local referendum on euthanizing stray dogs on October 6

CGMB (The General Town Council of Bucharest) may convene today to make a decision in this respect.

The Bucharest Town Hall will organise a local referendum on euthanizing stray dogs. The announcement was made Wednesday evening by the mayor of Bucharest, Sorin Oprescu, at his first public appearance after a four-year-old child died on the company-owned land in the vicinity of Tei Park in the Second District of Bucharest after being bitten by a pack of stray dogs. Oprescu said if citizens of Bucharest vote in favour of the referendum, he will be able to “put pressure” on MPs to adopt a law “in accordance with the people’s wants” on this topic. Asked how he would vote at the referendum, the mayor refused to give a straight answer, simply stating he would vote and make his vote public after the referendum. The mayor of Bucharest said the referendum should be based on the question: “Do you agree with euthanizing stray dogs that are captured in the public spaces of Bucharest and are not claimed before the deadline stipulated by the law? Yes or no?” The mayor of Bucharest says the referendum may be held on the last Sunday of September or the first Sunday of October, and said his suggestion was to be held on October 6.
According to the Referendum Law, “the object and data of the local referendum are established and made public no sooner than 20 days prior to the day on which it takes place” and can only be organised on Sundays.
Furthermore, yesterday Oprescu called a meeting at Town Hall to determine the immediate necessary measures for solving the problem of stray dogs, which was attended by district mayors, group leaders and prefects of Bucharest and Ilfov County. Mayor Oprescu claims he requested that an administrative investigation and an audit on the last ten years be conducted at ASPA (the Animal Supervision and Protection Authority). “I will return with a report for you in seven days. No one wants any more tragedies”, the mayor stated, as cited by Mediafax.
According to Sorin Oprescu, the ordinance that authorises euthanasia to be performed on stray dogs is only applicable to sick dogs. He also said he feels guilty for the death of the four-year-old child attacked by a pack of dogs and so do all those who drafted “this inefficient law”. Oprescu mentioned that the last census showed there are approximately 64.000 stray dogs in Bucharest: “The dog catching rate is 40 dogs a day. It’s very little; we are aiming at 140-200 dogs a day. As of May 2013, none of the aggressive dogs has returned”. The mayor pointed out that 25.000 dogs were sterilised in 2012 in Bucharest and approximately 11.000 this year. Asked if he plans to resign because a child died after being bitten by dogs, Oprescu replied: “Why should I resign? Are you convinced Oprescu is to blame? If it could bring the child back, I would not give it a second thought”. Asked why he took so long to react to the child’s death, the mayor answered he was away on a medical check-up and left the deputy mayor in charge. Regarding President Traian Basescu’s suggestion on solving the problem of stray dogs, he agreed with Basescu.
According to a press release issued by ASPA (the Animal Supervision and Protection Authority), the institution had a budget of RON 18.6 million. Out of the RON 2.8 million expenses incurred over a period of eight months, RON 170.000 were allocated to dog sterilisation, RON 854.000 to work at the Mihailesti shelter and RON 628.000 to wages and related fees.
Liberals and Democrat-Liberals claim a referendum would be useless
Senate Speaker Crin Antonescu stated yesterday that he disagrees with organizing a referendum in Bucharest on the issue of stray dogs, stating that this initiative “has nothing new to tell about the citizens’ will,” being clear that people no longer want dogs on the streets. He said that he does not see the point of a referendum, the latter representing in his opinion only “a delay and pointless expenses.” In his opinion the issue of stray dogs is not a problem of legislation: “There are cities in Romania that, using this legislation, have made significant progress in solving the problem. (…) Even if you want to kill the dogs you still have to catch them. The problem is that you need a plan, a budget, some people that would catch these dogs.” Just like Sorin Oprescu, Antonescu agrees with President Basescu on this issue, namely on the adoption of an emergency government ordinance. “What Traian Basescu proposed is more logical. (…) At least we would choose a path,” the PNL President stated. Moreover, he pointed out that solving the stray dogs issue should have been the top goal of local authorities, before sanitation or beautification. “This tragedy, this child had a horrific death because of people, not because of dogs,” the Liberal added.
PDL Bucharest spokesperson Mihai Atanasoaiei claims in his turn that the referendum proposed by Oprescu is useless, pointing out that PDL will oppose it within the Bucharest General Council (CGMB). According to Atanasoaiei, PDL Bucharest considers that the referendum on stray dogs represents Oprescu’s “utmost cowardice,” Oprescu transferring the responsibility for the decision from his shoulders to the shoulders of Bucharesters. The only solution in his opinion is for the Bucharest Mayor to ask the government to issue an ordinance that would entail the killing of dogs.
PNL MP Gigel Stirbu is of the same opinion, accusing the Bucharest Mayor of having on his hands the blood of the little boy killed by dogs. In his opinion Oprescu should no longer have talked about “master-plans,” and instead should have proven that he cares about the citizens and should not have “thrown the onus on the government or Parliament to find a solution to the problem of stray dogs.”
On the other hand, the Popular Movement Party (PMP) considers that Premier Victor Ponta should from now on assume responsibility for any attack perpetrated by stray dogs since he preferred to “shift” the responsibility to Parliament instead of adopting an emergency ordinance consisting of firm measures.
Parents to protest in Bucharest
The online community of parents has announced a protest within Bucharest’s Romana Square, in the memory of Ionut Anghel, the boy killed by stray dogs early this week, and in support of all persons bitten or attacked by stray dogs, asking the authorities to take immediate and efficient measures to ensure the right to life and safety. “We are asking the authorities for a solution worthy of a European country of the year 2013. (…) We love dogs too, but we love our children more,” a press communiqué reads. The community of parents has extended its condolences to the Anghel family, and on Friday the members of the community will light candles for Ionut and will keep a moment of silence in his memory. “We want a clear, applicable law that would have effects in everyone’s lives,” the aforementioned communiqué reads. The boy killed by stray dogs was buried yesterday in Bucharest.
Surprising gesture from FRF President…
On the other hand, a gesture that was severely criticized by the public opinion and mass-media was the one made by Romanian Football Federation (FRF) President Mircea Sandu, who announced on Wednesday evening during a press conference that he will offer tickets to the Romania vs. Hungary football game to the bereaved family. “Maybe we can offer solace to the father, mother and brother, we will invite them to the game against Hungary,” Sandu stated. Later Sandu apologized to the bereaved family for his “uninspired” gesture, pointing out at the same time that his gesture was not an electoral one.

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