Bucharest's stray dog problem has nothing to do with Nicolae Ceausescu

Nicolae Ceausescu suddenly realises that he will be blamed for all of Romania's problems until the end of time

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.

17 thoughts on “Bucharest's stray dog problem has nothing to do with Nicolae Ceausescu

  1. Stray dogs represent a most usual phenomenon in the former domains of the Ottoman Empire. It is an issue that for Bucharest dates since the days the city developed as larger market town in the second part of the c17th. If you want to see stray dogs as in Romania’s capital, then go to Tirana, Skopje, Ankara, Erzurum, Arbil, Kastoria etc. and you can thus map the former califate of the Istanbul sultans. It is part of the natural urban fabric of this part of the world and it will take a century or even more to change, but I very much doubt that.


    1. >If you want to see stray dogs as in Romania’s capital, then go to Tirana, Skopje
      I’ve spent many weeks in these two cities and don’t recall ever having seen a stray dog.


    2. I don’t remember seeing stray dogs in Ankara or Istanbul; or in other cities in the Balkans. I don’t remember seeing any stray dog in Chisinau, either.
      If there were some, must have been very discrete; never heard them barking either.
      Only in cities in India (especially Patna, Bihar state) I think I saw more stray dogs than in Bucuresti. It was the only time when I found their presence to be somehow comforting; very strange; but maybe because I was terrorized by the stray monkeys and than the stray dogs were the only familiar thing around? For a second I wondered why people don’t do something about these evil monkeys.


  2. The Ceausescu theory is the one I was always told. Sounded plausible to me at the time, and I guess still does. You point out that the lifespan of a dog is about 13 years and Ceausescu hasn’t been around for over 20 years so yes, obviously you can’t blame him for the dogs we see today but it certainly doesn’t prove his housing policies couldn’t have been a factor in the beginnings of the dog problem which now, through no fault of N.C., no one seems capable of doing anything about save for kicking the can down the road a little further…


    1. His policies were a factor, but that the problem persists to this day is to do with the failure of governments to deal with it for the past 21 years.

      Ceausescu/Communists/Russians/Turks etc are used as a crutch too often to pass the blame for Romania’s current failings onto those who ran the country in the past.


      1. I think Hungarians are nice people 🙂

        Not sure if my generation gives a sh** on whom Transylvania belongs to, they have a lot of other problems at their hand.

        The Hungarian issue remains a thing of the past, suitable for rotten politicians.

        You know, there was a guy a few days ago who put up a show, in the end hanging a mocking of Avram Iancu somewhere in a city in Transylvania. Personally I couldn’t care less. I asked my friends and they couldn’t care less either. Politicians should stop blaming things on the Hungarians…


  3. This article proves only one thing: Bucharest is a boring and dismal hell-hole, and beating this stupid “stray dogs issue” to death, and of course throwing in the requisite Ceausescu reference, is the only way to drum up some new blog fodder.


    1. “This article proves only one thing: Bucharest is a boring and dismal hell-hole, and beating this stupid “stray dogs issue” to death, and of course throwing in the requisite Ceausescu reference, is the only way to drum up some new blog fodder.”

      Ouch. Someone is having a bad day.
      And yes, it is agreed: Ceausescu may have played a part in creating the dog problem but it is the past two decades of authorities who are the ones to blame for not doing anything about it. Ironically, I actually wish they WERE beating this “stupid” issue to death. But unfortunately they seem to be ignoring it to at least one woman’s recent death.
      And that’s not what I would consider to be “fodder.”


  4. I went away and did the math. I came up with a larger population due to breeding. Sure there was the reduction factor due to vehicular impact and dogs mauling each other in the city shelters, but I still came up with the fact that a species that breeds, has an ample food supply and faces no major threat to keep the population in check will… multiply (see, math!). As far as Ceausescu goes, it is always easier to blame a dead dictator than to take personal responsibility.


  5. why isn’t anybody focused on finding a solution? only complain and blame ceausescu or other factors… i find this irrelevant really.. what matters is to get rid of those dogs one way or another, they really don’t belong there..


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