According to the city government, a staggering 64,000 feral dogs live on Bucharest’s streets, giving the metro area, population 2.3 million, more than twice as many street dogs per capita as Detroit, its closest US rival. Last week, a stray dog debate that had previously been more about public health, animal welfare and Bucharest’s image took a tragic, urgent turn, when a 4-year-old boy died after being mauled by a dog pack. Following an understandable public outcry, Bucharestians will vote on October 6 on whether or not to allow euthanasia for the city’s entire stray dog population.
The origin of the overflow:
The reasons for this glut are connected both to Romania’s former communist government and to the chaos caused by its removal. In the early 1980s, Nicolae Ceaușescu caused havoc in Bucharest when he bulldozed a large chunk of the city center in order to rebuild it along more monumental lines. As well as destroying some of the city’s most beautiful areas, this move forced 40,000 residents to be rehoused elsewhere. Many of these people moved to modern developments on the outskirts that did not allow pets, causing a flood of dogs onto the streets. With Ceaușescu’s grand plan slow to shape, the half-built shells of this wrecked area gave feral dogs a place to thrive.