By Bogdan Cristel
I love dogs. I grew up with them around me all the time and I remember always having one with me when I played in my grandpa’s yard as a child.
Our dogs, just like thousands of others in Bucharest, were kept in the family garden. But everything changed in the city after former Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu began a project to erase old houses with backyards and replace them with huge high-rise blocks.
As a result of the mass demolitions, many dogs were turned out on the streets and the number of strays increased year after year. Some 60,000 dogs roam the capital according to local authorities.
Thousands of people are victim to their bites and when in September 2013 a child was mauled to death, Romania’s government went into action. Parliament overwhelmingly backed a new law allowing local authorities to euthanize dogs caught in public spaces if a home could not be found for them within two weeks.
When I decided to cover this story, I tried to show both sides. That meant joining both the dogcatchers’ teams as they went about their work, and also documenting the efforts of various NGOs as they tried to save the animals.