Earlier this week, a 4-year-old boy was killed by stray dogs while playing near a park in Bucharest.
That right there is the only uncontested fact but the Romanian (and to a lesser degree, the foreign) press has gone absolutely batshit crazy over the incident and it’s the biggest story in this country with up to 15 minutes per hour of coverage on the news channels. To me however, it shows what kind of a country Romania is in a nutshell.
Instead of cluttering up the story with a bunch of distracting blue, I’m not going to put links to all of the articles. If you understand Romanian, you can find these yourself but I’ve read dozens of articles on the subject and thought it worthwhile to summarize it in English simply because I know that it’s going to have lasting implications.
The 4-year-old boy, called the “blonde angel” (now) by his family, was not named in legal documents but since the family has been talking to the press, we know his name was Ionut Anghel Cosmin, and he was playing with his 6-year-old brother Andrei on private property in Bucharest’s Sector 2 near Tei Park when they were attacked by stray dogs.
The younger boy was killed, his body later found “in a bush” and the older brother had injuries to his feet/legs (impossible to tell due to vagaries of the Romanian language but probably his legs) but managed to run and find their grandmother, who was supposed to be watching the two young children.
The surviving brother’s response breaks my heart because his first words were, “Grandma, I have something to tell you but please don’t hit me.” He then said, “Ionut is gone, he’s dead. Five dogs were on him and I ran away.” He then adding pitiably that “It’s not my fault, it’s not my fault,” which probably means that he knows it was his fault (in the sense that he provoked the dogs, not that a little kid is at fault for being a little kid, that’s why his stupid fucking grandma was supposed to be watching him).
The grandmother was questioned by police and she was not charged with negligence. Her story was that everything “happened in 5 minutes” and that she had been “following” the kids around from place to place, moving from bench to bench but the kids had slipped out of view. She also added that she “didn’t know the park” very well, stating to the press that child’s death was categorically “not her fault”.
An eyewitness said that the kids had sticks in their hands and had been waving them around just prior to the incident. Other witnesses said that there are lots of stray dogs in the area (and added that they were “relaxed” and calm) so it’s highly likely that the two young kids probably provoked the dogs by hitting them or waving around their sticks. Little kids do things like that, which is why it’s surprising that the grandmother hasn’t been charged with anything because literally everyone else has.
An autopsy was performed on Ionut and it was determined that he had been bitten “hundreds of times”, which led me to the same conclusion as the dead boy’s father, which is that “hundreds of bites” means they were eating the kid, not attacking him. Vivid and colorful descriptions of the dead boy (the Romanian press loves a funeral, by God) say that he was more or less intact although his head was covered in a white cap to cover up the bite marks.
After that, the finger pointing began. The media tried to track down the Sector 2 “mayor”, Neculai Ontanu, and were unable to find him for more than 24 hours. The Sector 2 mayor then “sanctioned” the Sector 2 police chief, Aurel Dobrila for “lack of response” in the case but then added that the Sector 2 government wasn’t responsible because the attack happened on private property.
Some reports say that the children were attacked on property belonging to a firm called Laguna Tei, which is a bankrupt company, but most reports say that the property is owned by a firm called SC Tei SRL. What is for sure is that the firm SC Tei SRL was fined 2000 lei (about 600 dollars) for “not having a plan” in place for patrolling their property. The guard on duty, who hasn’t been named, was fined 300 lei (about 80 bucks) for not doing his job and “not being qualified” to be a security guard.
I cannot even begin to imagine what it would take to be “unqualified” to sit around and be a security guard in this country unless it’s “having a vagina” because every third old, fat, lazy piece of shit man in this country is employed as a guard or “portar” (door/gate man) and all they do is sit around and do absolutely nothing. Even the Romanian police and armed forces have female members but the world of security guards in this country is 100% a male endeavor.
President Basescu, who used to be the (supreme) mayor of Bucharest and who cut his teeth politically by slaughtering thousands of dogs in the capital, then went on TV and said that the government (i.e. Ponta and the USL) should pass an emergency ordinance to authorize mass euthanasia of stray dogs in the capital. Basescu said that all pet owners and “lovers of animals” should keep their pets indoors for a “set period of time” and let the government’s animal hit men flood the streets and round up animals to be killed en masse.
The current supreme mayor of Bucharest, Sorin Oprescu, resisted calls for his dismissal and said he would organize a referendum on the issue, “to do what the citizens want”. There are strict rules in place on how referendums can be organized, including a requirement that a formal announcement must be made at least 20 days in advance, so essentially Oprescu is kicking the can down the road.
According to Oprescu, the referendum will consist of a single question, “Sunteti de acord cu masura radicala?” which translates to “Do you agree to the government taking extreme measures?” whatever the hell that is supposed to mean.
Oprescu defended his earlier silence on the dog attack by saying he was out of the country for a “medical check-up”, declining to explain why in the fuck he needed to be abroad for medical care, but added that this foreign medical stuff “interrupted his communications” and thus delayed his being informed about the dog attack.
Oprescu then began crying in front of the cameras and said, “Please forgive me! I feel guilty for the death of this child.”
Ponta fired back at Basescu and said that the president loves to profit from national tragedies, unlike Ponta of course, who convened a national day of mourning for a bus crash in Montenegro a couple of months ago. Ponta also said that next Monday Parliament will meet to discuss what to do about the stray dog situation, adding that “it is a serious problem that we can’t forget about anymore,” even though of course it’s been forgotten about for years.
What’s sad is that I’ve already written about the stray dog problem in Romania and how cities like Oradea have humanely resolved their stray dog problem a long time ago so not one part of this tragic death of a child had to happen.
Bucharest officials said that over 1000 people have been bitten by dogs in the capital and 8000 people nationwide this year alone. Everybody seems to agree that there are 64000 stray dogs in Bucharest although considering it took 20 months to tabulate the results of the human census in this country, I have to wonder exactly how accurate those numbers are. The official numbers say that 20000 of those stray dogs have been sterilized.
The case got even weirder when the dogs from the property (including one allegedly with “blood on its nose”) were rounded up and the alleged killer dog had an implanted microchip (bearing number 941000003190543, as the press so helpfully informed us) which allowed the authorities to identify that the dog had been adopted by an animal rescue NGO called “The Kaleidoscope Foundation” in 2008.
What is utterly bizarre is that the Kaleidoscope Foundation’s animal compound is over 10 kilometers (6 miles) away from where the children were attacked and absolutely nobody knows how the dog came to be where it was rounded up. The president of the Kaleidoscope Foundation, Carmen Secareanu, was nowhere to be found for a while but ultimately gave a statement:
The dog was brought to us by an animal lover who then took it back and we don’t know what happened to the animal. We haven’t been keeping track of it for the last five years. I assumed responsibility for that dog in the sense that I got the foundation to spend money so it could be sterilized and implanted with a microchip. But everything after that isn’t our responsibility. Various organizations in Bucharest have returned thousands of animals to the streets. It’s very difficult, in fact, impossible to keep track of every single one of them.
Because of the paperwork associated with the microchip, the press discovered the name of the woman who signed the adoption on behalf of the foundation, Lavinia Mirela Nica, who was a volunteer with the organization. Mrs. Nica gave a startling statement to the press:
Theoretically (by signing the adoption papers), I was supposed to take care of the adopted dog, but in reality I didn’t. That’s because I was signing the papers on behalf of the foundation, not myself personally. If we’re going to blame anyone, it should be the association (Kaleidoscope Foundation) because they were the ones who had responsibility. It was a situation where we had to make a compromise and City Hall knew that, but we had to free up some spaces. I understand that a child was killed but that’s how it goes. It was an accident. My conscience is clear and I will continue to work to save animals.
The line about “City Hall knew” was because the ASPA, the local government agency in charge of the protection and welfare of animals, had originally picked up the dog and sterilized it. The Kaleidoscope Foundation had then agreed to adopt it (to prevent it from being euthanized) and then let it wander around town for the next five years. Apparently this is a well-known tactic where the NGOs agree to sign the papers so the government covers its ass and everything’s done with a wink and a nod, knowing that the dogs won’t be adopted at all but just released back into the streets.
Five other dogs were picked up in addition to the (allegedly) killer dog belonging to the Kaleidoscope Foundation but it’s unclear if they have also have “owners”.
The Sector 2 chief of the ASPA, Isabela Hurjui, was sanctioned as well, even though technically the ASPA had done nothing wrong and had no jurisdiction over the dog as it had been adopted by the Kaleidoscope Foundation. Hundreds of people have been protesting outside the ASPA office, the Sector 2 City Hall, the Bucharest (supreme) City Hall, the Kaleidoscope Foundation and have also folded the issue into the ongoing protests against Rosia Montana.
So in conclusion we’ve got two young children watched by a clueless, mean old lady, who let her grandkids disappear out of sight and get mauled by dogs. She didn’t hear the kids screaming at all (how?) and one grandkid was injured, the other effectively partially eaten.
But sweet old grandma who likes to slap and punch her grandkids gets in no trouble at all. Instead, the politicians start pointing fingers, blaming police chiefs and animal welfare agencies when the attack took place on private property, which was “guarded” but not really. The Bucharest mayor burst into tears and the president wants a bloodbath meanwhile the fake animal “adoptions” by NGOs turn out to be nothing more than catch, sterilize and release programs (to be fair, one NGO called Vier Pfoten, doesn’t do that).
So maybe we’ll get a referendum (dear Mr. Oprescu you fucking dumbass, if you can’t decide what to do, just resign because otherwise why not hold a referendum on every issue?) and maybe the parliament will adopt some stopgap measure but meanwhile the stupid, senseless and idiotic show must go on.
To wit, the final bizarre touch in this case was added when Mircea Sandu, the head of the Romanian Football Federation, generously offered free tickets to the Romania-Hungary match next week to the parents so that they can relax and get their minds off of the incredibly awful and painful death of their child.