Stray Dogs - Lets look out for them as they are only trying to survive

by Paul White

“If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.” - Mark Twain

Stray dogs

I have always been fascinated by the resilience of local stray dogs that live tough lives on our streets and fields. They are constantly on the move looking for their next meal, whilst at the same time trying to avoid the many dangers that face them. The harshest season by far is the long and extremely cold winter, when the temperature regularly plummets to -20°. If the cold doesn't kill them, then the wolves that come down from the mountains during the night in search of food often do.

Many locals view strays as vermin, even when they have dogs of their own. I have seen dogs hit by cars which have been left on the road to die without even a glance in the rear view mirror. I have personally witnessed such "hit and drive on's" twice. They were both deliberate acts, with the second driver going out of his way, swerving his car violently to make sure he hit the dog. The scream the second dog made will imprint on my memory for the rest of my life. I managed to get this poor animal into the back of my car and we took it to a vet in the local town. But unfortunately the dog's back was broken and the vet had to euthanize this poor soul. The vet was in tears, the cruelty and unfairness of the situation was hard to bear.

I have also witnessed a teenage boy kicking a dog so hard that he broke it's front leg. He did not see me and callously left the dog squirming in pain in the middle of the road, laughing with his friend. I gave chase, but when I caught him he couldn't understand a word I was saying. Laura caught up with us and translated my disbelief and anger caused by his cruel and violent behaviour. He wasn't that bothered really, surprised more than anything that I felt so passionately about a stray dog. We fed the dog over several days but it wouldn't let us get close enough to give any treatment. What leads people to such cruel acts? I am often told that it's a matter of education, but surely it runs deeper than that?

Strays on our streets

If life was not tough enough, unfortunately it will soon become tougher for these poor creatures. Stray dogs face another and more systematic threat of death by new legislation recently passed by the Romanian government. This new law came about after a four year old boy was killed by dogs in Bucharest. As a result dogs will be rounded up and euthanized within two weeks unless claimed by the owner or re-homed. However, we know from several country's experiences that such forms of control do not work in the long term. Only programmes involving sterilization offer effectively reduce the numbers of stray dogs.

Read more: E.U. Parliament - STOP the 'euthanasia' policy for stray animals in Romania!

Foxy 2019

Not everyone will be happy with my next sentiment but I'm really baffled by the large sums of money people spend on pedigree, often genetically unhealthy and 'puppy farmed' dogs, when there are so many healthy stray dogs around requiring loving homes? My friend and companion Foxy found me during one of the harsh winters described above. Only a few weeks old she sat on my doorstep in freezing conditions on the eve of my birthday. I didn't pick her up because I thought the cold would drive her back to mother and siblings. But she wouldn't budge and to my amazement when I opened the door in the morning she was still sat there! I let her in warmed her up and fed her. We then visited all of my neighbours to see if they were missing a puppy. None were, so from that day on Foxy has been by my side.

Are stray dogs aggressive? In my experience, the answer is an emphatic NO. They are just trying to survive, which involves finding food to eat and a shelter to protect themselves from the elements. As long as we don't threaten or scare them, they tend to avoid us.