Ploiesti is a city in the South-East of Romania, roughly 35-40 miles away from Bucharest, the Romanian capital. This makes Ploiesti highly accessible for visitors from abroad, since it is quite close to the two international airports of Bucharest (Otopeni and Baneasa).
Ploiesti is the 9th most populous Romanian city, and is part of the greater Prahova County. More about Ploiesti here.
The official town hall webpage can be found here.
Ploiesti and strays
Approximate estimates of Ploiesti stray dog numbers I have heard or read in the news: anywhere from 3-4,000, to 7-8,000. However, since there is no registration/census whatsoever of the local stray population, these numbers represent a very rough guess. Furthermore, many owned dogs are allowed to roam freely in the streets, which confuses things even further.
The Ploiesti homeless animal population is divided into:
- approximately 600 animals living in low welfare conditions at the Bucov shelter (see BUCOV POUND IN IMAGES), and
- thousands of strays living in the streets, many entire and continuing to multiply
How did Ploiesti, like any other place in Romania, end up with so many homeless animals?
- The primary reason would be Communism. For roughly half a century, Romania was under strict Communist regime until 1989. During these dark times of Romanian history, Communism attempted to create "glorious" industrial centers. But they needed workers for this, and ideally many people packed as densely as possible around industrial cities. Hence, many cities became highly industrialized, and much of the workforce for these factories were people from the countryside forced to move into the city. "Forced", because Communism had taken their land and cattle, making it pretty much impossible for them to survive in the countryside the old traditional way. Furthermore, many people from the cities were forced to give up their houses and move into "matchbox-sized" apartments in blocks of flats, for economy of space. Initially, all these people owning land and a house, whether from countryside or from the city, had also had a dog. When forced to emigrate into the city, from house with land to tiny apartments, they had to leave their dogs behind. Dogs that proliferated particularly in cities, eating from garbage. Hence, our many strays are a vestige of Communism. Over 20 years after the fall of Communism, dogs still suffer because of it.
- The second highly relevant reason is backward Romanian mindset, total lack of education on the subject, and irresponsibility (and I say this as a Romanian deeply hurt and disappointed by my nation for this). With probably less than 5% neutered pet dogs, many unwanted litters are born. I know and have heard of hundreds of abandoned pup litters on the side of the road, in parks, around garbage collection points. And the story repeats every year, twice a year. Irresponsible owners that do not spay/neuter their animals, allowing them to multiply, and then discarding the puppies everywhere on public domain. In fact, these are considered the "lucky" litter from "good" owners that took the time to dispose of them in a place where they have a chance for survival! Many other litter end up killed by owners, drown, or even left in forests to be hunted and eaten by wild animals. Add, to this, the Pedigree dogs that owners have had enough of and abandon in the streets when dogs age or become ill. Other abandoned dogs belong to locals that emigrated to other countries.
Meet Ada and Kizzy, 2 baby girls from a litter of tiny pups abandoned in a park. All boys were adopted locally, but no one wanted the baby girls, so they grew up in the park. I was among the people taking care of them, and had both of them spayed by Vier Pfoten. Kizzy was ultimately killed by poisoning, while Ada vanished in the macabre Bucov city pound
Please see this Youtube video about 15 puppies dumped in the street- the most common story behind the street dogs of Romania: born to be abandoned
- The last main reason of such great number of strays is Romanian politics on the subject: traditionally in favor of mass dog euthanasia (whether openly or behind closed doors), and disregarding the need for spaying and neutering and for prevention of abandonment. Always looking for short term solutions prior elections, never caring about effective long term solutions. Until a couple of years ago, mass dog euthanasia was the legalized means to control the stray dog population. Furthermore, "euthanasia" is an euphemism for how dog catchers would actually kill dogs. Some years ago, an American friend of mine assisted to traditional Romanian style "euthanasia": dog catchers clubbing to death strays in the streets in front of passers-by. Other "traditional" methods included poisoning, or even injecting dogs and puppies with petrol straight in the heart. Politicians and law enforcement bodies always closed their eyes, tacitly approving and encouraging such extermination methods. And no, such measures never worked, the number of strays never being contained through such barbaric methods on the long run. Because the population kept on abandoning unwanted pups that grew to replenish stray dog numbers in no time. Since 2008, euthanasia has been banned in Romania on paper, yet dogs keep on being killed, still through the most unorthodox methods, behind closed doors. And stray dog numbers continue to stay high.