One of the victims is 28 years old. She was walking to the school where she teaches drawing to children in the primary school. Several people sat and watched how a stray dog attacked and mutilated her.
Half her finger was ripped off, along with her tendon and she needed stitches on her hands and abdomen. Now she can’t draw anymore, she only walks out accompanied by her brother and lives with a constant fear of being fired.
The other woman was walking to the private faculty where she studies. She was attacked by four stray dogs and, according to her testimony, it was her size that helped her not to be knocked down. A large piece of skin was ripped off her calf and her knees were completely shredded apart.
Everyday now, the woman thanks the Lord that she was not accompanied by her child, as usually.
Both stories have a common ground: Bucharest, a European capital city, the place where the streets are filled with stray dogs while the authorities ignore the problem.
Downtown, where the streets are..
Malina Popa, the teacher, told us that the last thing she can remember before the attack was the image of an old lady who held a stick in her hand and yelled at the dog.
That was when the dog attacked her, on Elie Carafoli street in sector 1 of Bucharest. She tried to defend herself and placed her hands around her abdomen. The dog bit her right hand and ripped one of her fingers out. Because she didn’t fight back, the dog continued to bite her entire body. Then, she fell unconscious to the ground and the dog attacked the old lady. A man appeared and chased the dog away.
Using her last strength, Maline crawled to the middle of the street, to recover her finger, then she went in a backyard. Two people, who did not bother to call for an ambulance, watched the whole scene from a balcony.
Ever since, Malina does not get out of the house alone. She gave up showing up in public, out of embarrassment. Even more, she constantly lives with the fear of being fired from the school, because the mutilation may prevent her from doing her job right. All she asks for now is that some day, she would become a “somehow normal person”.
“I’m lucky I weigh around 100 kilograms, otherwise they would have killed me”. That’s how Cristina Badea begins her testimony. Cristina says that the dogs came out of no where and attacked her while she was walking and reading something. She did not provoke them in any way.
The attack lasted for about 30 seconds, she says. Meantime, the dogs bit her knees and calves. She was lucky enough to punch down a dog right as it tried to bit her face. A man witnessed a part of this scene, as he was driving by. “Hold on to your feet! If they knock you down, they’ll kill you”, he said. Then, he left.
After this incident, everyone started giving advices to Crisina. Neighbors, friends and veterinarians, everyone told her that “she must have done something to provoke the attack”.
But they all missed out on some details. The pack of stray dogs was on that street for several years. And every time that dog catcher came on that street, people would throw bottles and jars at them, so that the cute dogs would not disappear.
“It’s a disastrous situation”
Then, the nightmare began. As Cristina Badea arrived at the Matei Bals infectious disease Institute, she saw she cannot drive inside the hospital’s courtyard.
So, she had to go pass a pack of stray dogs, that awaited at the entrance of the hospital where she was seeking for help. She spent several hundreds of euros on the treatment and doesn’t leave the house without her dog repellant device.
”It’s a disastrous situation. And no one will do anything about it. Just think about the huge amount of money that a firm which produces the anti tetanus vaccine could get. Around 70 people are being bit everyday. And the price for a single shot of the vaccine is about 40 euros”, Cristina says.
Stuck on a law
The sheltera are filled with stray dogs. The Administration for Animal Surveillance (ASA) cannot handle the situation since the Parliament ratified the law that strictly forbids stray dogs from being killed.
Both of our two shelters afe filled with 500 dogs and the new law, ratified this year, allows that only the dogs suffering from an incurable disease to be put to death. That’s how we manage to free up some 6 places in a month. Then, we go and catch other dogs”, Simona Panaitescu, the ASA director says.
Yet, Panaitescu doesn’t recall having received a complaint from the people living in the street where Malina was attacked, although she lives nearby herself.
“Unfortunately we are confronted with people who leave their dogs on the streets. And the laws do nothing about these people”, Panaitescu added.
Although ASA has stopped catching dogs for about three months now, the “production” hasn’t dropped. “We see cubs everywhere on the streets. They are being chased away from institutions or from people’s backyards. We used to catch about 1.500 dogs a month before this law was ratified. We killed 80% of them, because only 20% were adopted. Now, the so called animal lovers don’t come to adopt a dog since they know the law keeps them alive”, Panaitescu says.
The director of ASA also says that no one really knows how many dogs are now in the streets of Bucharest because no one was able to count them all.