We come in peace.
Whatever side of the barricades you find yourself on in the the Bucharest stray dog debate, can we suggest that we all decide to agree on the fact that the stray dog problem – like so many others for which he gets the blame in contemporary Romania – has nothing whatsoever to do with Nicolae Ceausescu.
Time and again the same old story gets rolled out for the benefit of all (especially foreigners who know no different). It goes something like this:
The problem of stray dogs dates from the time of Nicolae Ceausescu, when houses were destroyed and replaced by blocks. Dog owners were reluctant to take their animals into their apartments, and so they abandoned them on the streets of the capital, where they bred.
The story is false on almost every level.
First of all, while thousands of houses were destroyed during the 1970s and 1980s, and their inhabitants then moved into apartments, large numbers of those people who moved in to Bucharest’s new blocks during those years came to the city from elsewhere in Romania, often the countryside. What’s more, by all accounts the stray dog situation was – while not perfect – certainly kept under control by the communist regime, which often resorted to killing strays. (There is is also the fact that food was hard to come by and there was often nothing left to throw the dogs).
Secondly however – and most pertinently – unless you believe the conspiracy theorists Nicolae Ceausescu was shot on Christmas Day, 1989. That’s 21 years ago and counting.
The average life-span of the average dog is 13 years.
You go away and do the maths and then come back and tell us that it is all Ceausescu’s fault.