On Sept 22 2010 FPCC attended with several other NGOs a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee for Public Administration in St Gheorge. The committee, chaired by PDL Deputy Mrs Sulfina Barbu, met to discuss proposed amendments to Law No. 227 from 2002, the law which prescribes Western European standard shelters and humane euthanasia after 14 days if dogs are not rehomed or reclaimed.
This law, while appearing reasonable on paper, has resulted in futile mass killing of dogs in a variety of canine Auschwitzes throughout the country. No funds were provided by central government to finance humane euthanasia. NGOs are normally denied access to killing stations. Millions of Euros have been wasted since 2002 on useless, sporadic "Catch and Kill" campaigns.
The committee met to discuss several proposed amendments. One was the amendment passed unanimously by the Senate two years ago broadly based on "Neuter & Return". Another is "Catch & Kill" as proposed by the Prefect of Ilfov. A third, proposed by a Deputy of the Hungarian party, is to shelter dogs for 60 days before putting them humanely to sleep - a longer and more expensive version of Law.227.Carol Lazar, on behalf of FPCC, explained to the 12 members of the committee who attended, that FPCC's Neuter & Return project in Oradea has reduced the unsupervised dog population in the city to about 15% of the starting level in 2004 and that the cost of Neuter & Return is about one third of the cost of legally catching, killing and disposing of unwanted dogs. He further explained that the problem is not stray dogs as such, but the irresponsibility of owners or keepers, who tolerate and feed dogs, but who do not have them neutered and who do not prevent them from copulating. Such regularly fed "community dogs", for example at factories, petrol stations etc., are reproductively more successful than feral dogs. Catch and Kill campaigns always fail because they are aimed at feral dogs, the wrong target.
No dog control policy can succeed without the active co-operation of the citizens feeding and protecting their own or their community dogs.
Mr Lazar explained that the cost of Neuter & Return is approx. €1.00 per citizen in the first year, falling to 70c per person in the second year and then gradually falling to almost nothing after 10 years.
The committee asked Mr Lazar various questions about our success in Oradea.
We hope that our explanations, together with the statements of Vier Pfoten, Mr Codrut and Carmen Arsene of FNPA (National Federation for the Protection of Animals) and other animal welfare NGOs, will have persuaded the committee that repeating the failed Catch & Kill policies of Bucharest and other cities will be an irresponsible waste of public money and that a national Neuter & Return programme, as piloted in Oradea, is the only way to manage the unwanted dog problem cost-effectively.
Unfortunately a nationwide N&R programme cannot be implemented efficiently or fast by municipalities, which lack the necessary funds, the organisation and the credibility with the animal-protecting public. Unless central government and the EU provide finance and national coordination any achievements of an amended Law No. 227 incorporating Neuter & Return are likely to be piecemeal, sporadic and constantly undermined by the epidemic of dog dumping by irresponsible municipalities into other municipalities. There is still no sign that the Romanian government has the political will or the understanding of dog ecology to get to grips with the problem.