Petition Closed
Petitioning Council of Europe President of the Council of Europe and 5 others

Mr Nicolae Robu, Mayor of Timisoara: change your stray dog management policy and opt for "neuter & return"


This petition was started by Occupy for Animals on 24th of February, 2013 - for further information on this petition, please visit:



The city of Timisoara has spend 1,139 million euros during the period from 2006-2010 to kill tens of thousands of stray dogs.

But despite the killings and the huge amounts of money spent, the city of Timisoara is again littered with live and dead dogs to the point that end of November 2012, Nicolae Robu, the mayor of Timisoara, timely before the next mayoral elections, announced that his municipality has - finally - planned a mass sterilization of the stray dogs, of which Danyflor - the dog catching company with whom the city hall has signed a contract - estimates the number now at 8,000.

The mayor expects that between 300 and 500 dogs will be sterilized each month. Sterilizations will be done free of charge by specialists at the University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine of Timisoara. The dogs will receive postoperative care; they will be vaccinated; marked with a yellow ear tag and then registered in a database. The dogs will be housed in the publicly financed shelter run by Danyflor until they are adopted, said the mayor.

The mayor also said that those who adopt dogs and later put them back on the streets should expect a severe fine from the local police and that they would not be allowed to adopt a dog in the future again! He said also that starting from next year (2013), the municipality of Timisoara would offer free sterilizations to households with limited financial resources.

So far, everything sounds not too bad... altough there are a few problems and inconsistencies, already in theory!

The public shelter of Timisoara, was always known as a killing pound; a death shelter. A pitiful and miserable prison where the only way out was DEATH.

ALL animals that were caught in the streets and brought to this shelter, died in this shelter. Rarely, very rarely, an animal walked out alive again. They either died of dehydration, starvation, or diseases. and if none of this killed them quickly enough, they were killed by the shelter workers in the most cruel and cheapest ways after a few days, even if the killing methods used, were illegal.

Since the Romanian Constitutional Court declared euthanasia in the absence of clear medical criteria as unconstitutional on 11th of January, 2012, many public shelters, or public financed shelters run by dog-catching companies, simply let the animals die of thirst and/or hunger, or of the consequences of diseases and injuries (often inflicted during the catching) left without veterinary care. We know that in the public shelter of Botosani, to die of one of these causes is considered "to die of natural causes".

This fate is not unique to the stray dogs of Timisoara or of Botosani; in fact it is the common fate of almost all Romanian stray dogs who have the misfortune to enter such a public shelter, or publicly financed animal shelter, of which most are nothing less than illegal extermination camps run by untrained, poorly educated, underpaid and cruel shelter workers.

In the past, "euthanasia" in fact meant: poisoning, strangulation, being burnt alive, beaten to death or injected with magnesium sulphate.

Today, "euthanasia" means starving to death, freezing to death, or being left to die of the consequences of diseases, of injuries inflicted during the catching, or of unprofessional sterilizations left without veterinary care.

While some animal welfare legislation exists on paper there is no effect in the real life. Despite improvements of animal protection legislation, and the euthanasia being prohibited, in fact the stray dog management means the same illegal methods to catch and kill dogs, and the same public camps where the dogs are killed by starving to death ... and the publicly financed shelter of Timisoara, run by Danyflor, seems to be no exception as you will find out if you have a look at our website where you can see the pictures taken by volunteers and local animal protection associations during a visit on February 13, 2013.

The visit was announced and those responsible had the opportunity to improve the situation. Still, even with these "improvements", the conditions in which the volunteers found the dogs that day were heartbreakingly bad.

The poor dogs were all very sick and very weak, some were apathetic; they were only skin and bones and they were not even fighting for food, but for a drop of water. You don't need to be an expert to see that the dogs have been starved for days, some looked as they had not been fed since weeks and they were awaiting their death as a welcome relief.

By signing our petition, the message that you can read below will be instantly sent to the mayor of Timisoara, asking him to return the dogs back to their territory after sterilization, which is also the only right thing to do to ensure the success of his sterilization campaign. Copy of this message will go to the Romanian Constiutional Court, the European Parliament, the EU-Commission, the Council of Europe, and the Intergroup.


Letter to
Council of Europe President of the Council of Europe
European Commission Mr José Manuel Barroso
Constitutional Court of Romania President of the Romanian Constitutional Court
and 3 others
European Parliament Mrs Erminia Mazzoni
European Parliament's Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals Mr Erler
Mayor of Timisoara Mr Nicolae Robu
Subject: your contract with Danyflor and the visit from your local animal protection associations at the Danyflor-shelter during which they have witnessed inhumane, horrible conditions and have found starved, dehydrated and dying animals

Dear Mr Mayor,

we would like to commend you on your decision to conduct mass sterilizations in your city, but - at the same occasion - we have to draw your attention to the fact that your plan includes a number of problems. Please allow us to explain:

a) For the success of your sterilization campaign, it is paramount that you return the dogs back to their territory, and not, like you have intended, to keep them at the Danyflor-shelter until they are adopted, or until they die, whereby the last option seems to be more likely their common fate.

Why is this important?

Because, if the dogs are not returned back to their territory, the reproduction rate will rise directly with the catching rate (in an area where 50% of the dogs are caught and removed from the territory the rest of the 50% will breed in larger numbers due to the fact that they will use the whole food resources available). The empty place after the dogs have been removed, will be occupied by other ones in search of food and shelter.

But if the dog is being returned to his/her territory, he/she will fight off and keep away newer dogs from entering his/her area, including those that are probably not sterilized and thus stop the reproduction in this area. Their number will stabilize in this manner, and reduce, slowly, but surely.

Simple "catch & kill" or "catch & incarcerate" policies have failed in ALL other Romanian cities before. The only cities that have successfully managed and curbed their stray animals population where those that opted for "catch & return", such as Oradea that had a stray animals population of 4,000 dogs in 2006 which has been reduced to 270 dogs in 2011 without putting to death a single animal. Same us Lugoj, where the stray animals population decreased from 2,500 dogs in 2008, to 235 dogs in 2011.

b) "Neuter & Return" is not only the only humane and proven method to successfully curb and control stray animals populations, it has also a few other advantages that we would like to elaborate below:

While animal lovers and NGOs boycott "catch & kill" or "catch & incarcerate & starve to death" policies and so complicate the dog catchers work - for good reasons - they welcome "neuter & return" policies and they even gladly collaborate at the catching of the dogs with the purpose of sterilization which implies a reduction of costs and an increase of the speed of the sterilization process. Technically and logistically speaking, it is impossible for the dog catching services to capture all the stray dogs without the help of the population and the animal protection organizations anyways.

The costs are significantly smaller since the animals will not be housed in public shelters at huge costs, but returned to their territory once they have been vaccinated and sterilized, where people often care for them; some dogs being even semi-owned.

c) Last but not least - and we are sorry that we have to tell you: your plan to house all 8,000 dogs (according to your own estimates) at the Danyflor-shelter that has a capacity of only a few hundred dogs until they are adopted, doesn't sound honest because it is simply illogical.

According to your own words, you estimate that 300-500 dogs can be sterilized per month, who then shall be housed in the shelter run by Danyflor until they are adopted. This would mean that it would take between 16 and 26 months to have all dogs removed from the streets... but that's not where the problem lies.

The problem lies simply in the capacity of the Danyflor-shelter. The present dog pound, has a capacity of 200 dogs, at best 250 dogs in very overcrowded conditions. Considering that Danyflor plans an extension of the shelter in the back and that the new outdoor shelter will perhaps have the same capacity as the actual part, the shelter will then have a capacity of 400-500 dogs which would mean that in one, or one and a half month, the shelter will have reached his full capacity. Where will the other 7,500 dogs that now live on the streets of Timisoara, be housed after their sterilization and until they will be adopted?

How do you want to proceed once the shelter is full after a few weeks? It is impossible to find adopters for so many dogs - old, ugly and ill-looking ones included - especially since the opening hours of the Danyflor-shelter hardly allow people who work to visit since they are only from Monday til Friday, from 12.00-16.00, and, as you know, unemployed people can't afford dogs. How then do you want to make room for new dogs if not by killing them, which wasn't your intention - or was it, Mr Mayor?

We believe that your intentions were only the best and that, timely before the next mayoral elections, you wanted to please everyone: the people in your city who want to have the dogs off the streets, the families with limited financial resources to whom you have offered free sterilizations which is also very commendable, as well as the animal lovers and local animal protection associations in your town who were very pleased to learn that your city would contact mass sterilizations, until they have seen with their own eyes, in what utterly deplorable conditions the animals are being kept at the Danyflor-shelter.

In case that you had no opportunity yet to see the pictures that the volunteers had taken during their visit from 13 February, 2013, we invite you to have a look at our website:

where we have added them all, for everyone to see.

As you can see, the poor dogs were all very sick and very weak, some were apathetic; they were only skin and bones and they were not even fighting for food, but for a drop of water. You don't need to be an expert to see that the dogs have been starved for days, some looked as they had not been fed since weeks and they were awaiting their death as a welcome relief.

Dear Mr Mayor, we believe that you have been ill-advised and betrayed by Danyflor to whom your municipality pays huge sums of money each month (60,000-70,000 RON) to take care of the dogs, but as you can see by yourself, Danyflor does not spend one Romanian Leu on food, not even on water for the poor animals, and lets them slowly die of starvation and dehydration to make room for new dogs that they have caught on the streets of Timisoara.

The money that you pay to Danyflor isn't your money! It's the money of the citizens of Timisoara, it's taxpayer's money and the fact that Danyflor shamelessly takes that money without giving much in return - not even a drop of water to these unfortunate dogs - is nothing less than criminal! As the mayor of your city you are but a public servant, and a cursory look into any dictionary will verify the fact that this means that it is your duty to serve your public; to redress this situation and to make sure that the terms of the contract that you have signed with Danyflor are being respected, and that the dogs are being fed, watered, and generally well cared for during the time they have to spend at their shelter.

Since it wasn't your intention to starve the animals to death at the Danyflor-shelter, and since the shelter cannot house 8,000 dogs, you have no choice but to return them to the territory where you have caught them, which is also the only right thing to do to ensure the success of your sterilization campaign.

Please do not forget that your country has ratified the European Council's Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals, and that your municipality (like all other municipalities in Romania) has therefore a binding obligation to take measures in this field, and that Romania being a member state whose MEPs have signed Declaration 0026/2011 in promoting humane treatment of animals including their population control, is therefore legally bound also by these statutes.

The International Companion Animal Management Coalition (ICAM) has published a guidance on the humane management of dog populations, which will guide and help you to implement an effective and sustainable approach that is proven to be effective. This document can be downloaded at the following link:

Furthermore, we are convinced that your local animal protection associations will gladly help and assist you to implement a humane and effective "neuter & return" policy.

As the next elections are approaching, it might be wise to reconsider that which determines your future, Mr Mayor. Solve your stray animals issue in the humane, civilized and proven manner (catch/neuter/return) and you will see that the stray animals population will stop growing, which will bring you sympathy (and votes) from both animal loving people and from those who don't love them and who want to see them disappear. Make the humane choice and everybody wins.

We thank you for having taken the time to read our letter and we will continue to follow the evolution of the stray animals issue in your city with great interest.

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