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Romania’s Constitutional Court has rejected objections to a new law, paving the way for thousands of stray dogs to be put down.
Protests by animal rights activists, like those of many others from politicians to actors, were to no avail.
The law, approved by President Basescu, allows for captured dogs to be killed if owners haven’t claimed them within a fortnight.
“We should react rationally. All dogs should be sterilised, even those belonging to somebody,” said one objector among a crowd of around 150 outside the court.
Another woman, who said she had come from Belgium especially for the demonstration, added: “I think it is very wrong, what are you doing here in Romania, killing all the stray dogs and the dogs in the shelters.”
The problem is particularly acute in the capital Bucharest, where tens of thousands of stray dogs roam the streets.
It dates back to communist times. In the 1980s the Ceausescu regime demolished whole districts, replacing houses with blocks of flats. Dogs which were abandoned have since multiplied.
“I think they should be taken somewhere; if not, then they should be put down. They’re dangerous. I’m living in a part of the town which is full of dogs,” said one woman who backs the law.
The law’s supporters were moved by the death of a small boy, attacked by stray dogs on the outskirts of Bucharest in early September.
Opponents argue other Romanian cities have run successful sterilisation programmes, whereas euthanasia has merely been a recipe for corruption, allowing public money to be siphoned off.