Mayor’s past as stray dog eradication activist haunts him after fatal attack

Mayor’s past as stray dog eradication activist haunts him after fatal attack

The case of Ana Oroș Daraban, the woman killed on Saturday by dogs in the Lacul Morii area in the sixth district of the city of Bucharest, has once again shocked public opinion, just as it did ten years ago when Ionuț Anghel, a four-year-old boy, was mauled by dogs in the Lacul Tei Park.

Ten years ago, the young NGO militant Ciprian Ciucu firmly proclaimed, in an editorial published on Contributors: „I can no longer bear to live in a city with children torn apart by dogs. I’m afraid. I have some ideas”. And among the ideas, the young Ciucu identifies the source of the problem of the large number of stray dogs in Bucharest at the time and possible solutions.

„What we want from local elected officials. Eradication of all stray dogs in Bucharest. No doublespeak, no mendacity, no delays. We want them to protect us and our children from the danger lurking in the streets.

„What we want from local elected officials. Eradication of all stray dogs in Bucharest. No doublespeak, no mendacity, no delays. We want them to protect us and our children from the danger that lurks in the streets.

How to get what we want. We are all putting pressure on Bucharest’s city halls to commit to eradicating stray dogs as soon as possible,” Ciucu wrote ten years ago.

The key word in Mr Ciucu’s text is commitment. Yes, someone has to take responsibility for solving the dog problem, and that is indeed the municipalities. They are the executive and legislature of a municipality. They can do what they want.

In the meantime, for various reasons, the number of dogs has increased again on the streets of the capital. It does not matter whether they are strays, left loose on the streets or found on various private properties. They are out there endangering people’s safety, sometimes even their lives. Ciprian Ciucu is no longer an activist, but was elected mayor of Sector 6 on the PNL list more than two years ago.

He would have had the opportunity to put into practice all the ideas he set out ten years ago to finally solve the dog problem in sector six. The danger in the Lacul Morii area had been pointed out last year by Ana Oroș Daraban herself, when she was attacked by packs of dogs in the Lacul Morii area. The victim then sent several addresses to the city hall. So it can’t be said that the municipality didn’t know.

Only this time no one took responsibility. After Saturday’s tragedy, Mayor Ciprian Ciucu reacted like a shrewd politician, blaming other authorities for not doing their job, especially the Authority for the Supervision and Protection of Animals (ASPA), which operates under the Bucharest City Hall. In other words, he pointed the finger at mayor of Bucharest Nicușor Dan.

  • As an aside, five days have passed since the tragedy and the Mayor of the Capital, Nicușor Dan, has had nothing to say, even though ASPA, the authority in charge of collecting dogs from the streets, is under his authority. He has at least one serious accusation to clear up: why ASPA has been diverted from its original purpose, de-professionalised and reduced to 13 dog wardens, well below its capacity. Nicușor Dan is also part of the problem, except…

…..Except for the fact that Nicușor Dan is not the mayor of sector six. As the NGO militant Ciprian Ciucu said ten years ago, we want local elected officials to eradicate stray dogs, without double talk, without delay, and above all to take responsibility for their eradication.

Mayor Ciucu has changed District Six for the better since he was elected mayor. Progress is visible, the sector is finally neater, cleaner and out of the disrepair left by the last disastrous administrations. But when it comes to dogs, Mayor Ciucu has been caught off guard by a tragedy, which is inevitable when the number of dogs let loose on the streets is again critical. Statistically speaking, it’s only a matter of time before another person will be torn to pieces by dogs if the indolence of the sector mayors continues (a problem that is otherwise almost generalized in the whole country).

An ambitious politician with long-term plans for the mayor’s office or even higher, Ciucu quickly understood that he had to find other culprits for the tragedy. Many were shocked by the lack of empathy in his recent public outings. Ciucu never began by expressing condolences, regrets or empathy with the victim’s family, but with justifications and vehemently passing blame.

This is how his first posting four days ago on the tragedy begins: „I don’t want to wash my hands! I have never shirked responsibility, even less so now, with the tragic death, in horrific circumstances, of Ana Oroș Daraban. I met Ana right on Lacul Morii, towards the island. She was out for a run. She also took part in the clean-up, we cleaned the area together. We talked about future projects, how far and how we will go with the future park. The terrible news made me dizzy, really… I have no words”.

Something more human to say would have been: „My condolences to the family who are going through a terrible time, I will do everything as mayor to ensure that these tragedies unworthy of a civilized city are never repeated, I am sorry and regret it”.

In fact, he said it somewhat anguished, finally, after days of trying to convince citizens that the problem of stray dogs was none of his business, that he had no powers and that the law did not help him, even though ASPA had proved the opposite. There was nothing to prevent him from setting up his own dog removal service if he found that the authority under the General City Hall was not working properly due to lack of staff.

„I regret enormously what happened and I take it upon myself from now on not to let this happen again in Sector 6! I take the blame for being aware too late of the increase in the number of stray dogs, due to the decrease in ASPA’s capacity in recent years. My condolences to the family, I’m terribly sorry! We will NOT shirk our duties, we will ask for and take on extra ones,” the mayor concluded his Faceboook message.

Where before Ciucu assumed nothing, he ended up assuming everything.

But what should be done? He came up with the solution himself ten years ago. Listen again to the activist Ciucu:

„A budget allocation from the fat budgets of the seven municipalities for dog control services to hire 15 city hall dog catchers and set up 6 temporary shelters with a capacity of 1000 places. The dog catchers will be organized in teams of three (one of whom will also have a car licence) and will be equipped with specialized vans after prior training. They will be equipped with modern means of sedation and will act in a civilized manner, without any fuss or cruelty.

We will thus have 5 teams of dog wardens per sector who will have to catch (let’s say) 10 dogs per day, so 50 per team per week. The work of the 5 teams will add up to 250 dogs per week per sector. In Bucharest we will have 1500 dogs collected weekly from the streets.

These dogs will be kept in shelters for adoption/recovery for 7 days. Adoption will be on the basis of a contract of assumption of responsibility with harsh clauses for the irresponsible and with periodic subsequent control of the conditions of adoption. After a fixed seven days from the date of entry into adoption, failing adoption/recovery the animals will be euthanized. In a civilized way, using the same measures as civilized countries.

At a euthanasia/adoption rate of approx. 1500 dogs per week we get rid of about 6000 per month. In about a year we got rid of this great scourge, shame of Bucharest, of the whole country, a proof of cultural underdevelopment and squalor”.

So what prevented him from putting his ideas into practice after becoming mayor of sector six? As I said, the problem was brought to his attention by the woman who had died in the meantime, mauled to death by dogs.

What should the citizens of sector six and the other sectors be doing now?

The solution also comes from the former mayor Ciucu: Total pressure on the town halls to do their job and enforce the law, to fine dog owners let loose or put to guard unfenced properties, to train the aforementioned detachements, to round up the dogs and make the sectors they run safe for citizens. Cities are for people, not for stray dogs.

Incidentally, Ciucu also announced ten years ago that „I will set up an organisation that will take on the mission described above, plus offer free legal assistance to victims”. Did he set it up? Does the „Ciucu and the dogs” association operate? With what results? Or not? Did he just pile on a tragedy to gain some popularity? Anyway.

Ciucu’s initiative ten years ago to even organize a protest in Bucharest was another very good idea. It’s the only way to make local elected officials more responsible when people take to the streets. „I proposed a march of silence on the day of Ionut Anghel’s funeral in front of the City Hall: no banners, no chants, just us, as many of us as possible dressed in black, with a moment of silence and possibly with candles in hand.”

This is exactly what the citizens of the sixth sector should do now, after the death of Ana Oroș Daraban: protest to make the mayor take responsibility. They should protest against political demagoguery, against empty talk, against running away from responsibility and double talk, when they see how a young politician seeks to bury the dead in someone else’s yard, so as not to damage his career.


Traducere (Ovidiu Harfas)

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