POLITICS

Stray dogs’ law constitutional, Court says



President Traian Basescu promulgated the law yesterday. Protesters who are against euthanizing stray dogs blocked Calea 13 Septembrie.

The Constitutional Court ruled the stray dogs’ law as constitutional, thus rendering euthanasia legal. Constitutional Court Chairman Augustin Zegrean made the announcement, stating the CC deemed the notification regarding the law unjustified and the law constitutional because the previous decision had been respected.
“We established that Article 1, paragraph 8, which was previously deemed unconstitutional, had been included upon agreement with the CC’s decision. So, euthanasia is no longer left exclusively up to local authorities; the law stipulates under which conditions euthanasia can be applied, as a last and extreme resort”, Zegrean said, as cited by Mediafax.
The Court Chairman had stated even prior to the decision that it is practically the same law on which judges have already ruled, but now MPs have returned with a new notification to prove that “this is the game of the law”. Asked if he supports euthanasia and if he owns a dog, Augustin Zegrean replied ironically: “I have a wolf-dog. He’s been on strike for three days, after he found out what was going on, and he is threatening me”. In turn, CC Judge Petre Lazaroiu remarked that mass euthanasia of stray dogs would traumatize the population, adding that the law which regulated the management of stray dogs could have been better. He also opined the euthanasia of the dogs would not eradicate the effect and that from now on the local and central authorities are in charge of this problem. “We don’t judge based on protests, but regulations”, the judge said before the ruling. Later on, he explained the judges’ arguments were based on the fact the Court did not ban the euthanasia last year either.
President Traian Basescu promulgated yesterday the law on stray dogs, just after the CC ruling. “The Romanian President, Mr. Traian Basescu, signed on Wednesday, September 25, the decree regarding the promulgation of the law for amending and completing the Government Emergency Ordinance no. 155/2001 on the programme to attend the stray dogs,” a released issued by the Presidential Administration reads.
On December 10, the Chamber of Deputies adopted the Stray Dogs’ Law, according to which, if after 14 work days of being kept in shelter, stray dogs are not reclaimed or adopted, they can be euthanized; the process can be postponed by councilors.

A group of 30 MPs from all political parties except UDMR contested the law before the Constitutional Court. They claim that the law will not prevent the spreading and proliferation of stray dogs, but it will traumatize society, as it is “an action that does not respect the Romanians’ fundamental human rights”. According to the contesters, managing stray dogs by euthanasia or permanent incarceration in shelters are disapproved of by the World Health Organization, who has concluded that the only way to control the dog population is sterilization, not “euthanasia programs that are both inefficient and costly”. On September 16, President Traian Basescu stated he would that he would promulgate the law “without any reservations”, but now he is expecting the Constitutional Court’s decision on the matter.
Approximately 150 persons who were protesting at the Constitutional Court headquarters at Parliament Palace blocked Calea 13 Septembrie after constitutional judges ruled the law constitutional. Upon hearing the Constitutional Court’s decision, the demonstrators who were against euthanasia started chanting “Romania, remember this murder is on you!” and blocked traffic as they marched forward on Calea 13 Septembrie towards the entrance to Palatul Parlamentului. Several protestors even laid down on the roadway, blocking circulation on both ways, and road traffic police officers intervened to redirect traffic. Protesters chanted: “CCR are murderers”, “USL and PDL, it’s the same garbage”, “Resign!”, “We’re not leaving until we’ve saved them” and “May you suffer the way stray dogs have”. One of the women protesting felt ill and most of the first-row demonstrators said, with tears in their eyes, that they would march every night until another solution is found. Among the protesters was also Greater Romania Party leader Corneliu Vadim Tudor, chairman of the Animal and Environmental Protection Federation Marius Marinescu and lawyer Paula Iacob.
In retort to the protesters’ slogans, CC judge Petre Lazaroiu said the Court judges were not the ones who made the law, but the MPs. “Criminality is proved, not only alleged”, said Lazaroiu. Vier Pfoten NGO also replied that, through the CC ruling, mass extermination of the stray dogs is getting green light. The NGO argued as well that the decision is ignoring the EC appeal to Romania to respect the international treaties regarding animal protection.

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