Romania's Animal Police,
ANSVSA's market stunt to counter their image loss
Romania, globally criticised for its policy on Animal Rights, accused as non-compliant with international agreements, ignorant of international directives and ill-consistent with EU values, Romanian authorities have consistently defended such accusations.
They point to the existence of Animal Welfare Laws which prescribe for prosecutions for animal abuse and conditions within animal shelters. They claim humane conditions in support of their ‘eradication’ of hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions of stray animals under recently introduced Law 258/2013.
Their latest initiative is to create an Animal Police and to facilitate this, have appointed a former animal welfare charity NGO coordinator to oversee the introduction and management of this new initiative.
Responsible government or cosmetic facade?
Codrut Feher (FNPA) presents some revealing and damning insights into the true morality and strategy of Romanian authorities.
This is an essential article for those who wish to see the true reality of Romania's animal welfare programs.
October 12, 2014 - Since the introduction of Romania's 'Killing Law', their Law 258/2013 also known as 'Law Ionut' (the law that legitimises the slaughter of all homeless dogs after a '2 week pre-slaughter-period' spent in one of Romania's death camps, if they have not been adopted or have perished before) Romania's cruel government has been plagued with allegations of corruption and maladministration and has attracted very harsh international criticism.
Their 'Slaughter Law' has dramatically negatively affected Romania's image economically, politically and on many other different levels.
Romania's public dog 'shelters' have always been nothing less than extermination camps of the worst kind run by untrained, poorly educated, underpaid and cruel shelter workers, and for the majority of the animals who had the misfortune to enter such a hell hole and who didn't get adopted, the only way out was, and still is, DEATH.
AFTER the introduction of Romania's Animal Welfare Law 9/2008 (which entered into force in 2004, and was amended and supplemented in 2008) which was a condition for Romania's entry in the EU, and which prohibited euthanasia in the absence of clear medical criteria, and BEFORE the introduction of the Romanian Slaughter Law 258/2013, many public shelters, or publicly financed shelters run by dog-catching companies, simply let the animals die of thirst and/or hunger, or of the consequences of diseases and injuries (often inflicted during the catching) left without veterinary care. Those who died of one of these causes were deemed to have died of 'natural causes'.
In the past, "euthanasia" in fact meant: poisoning, strangulation, being burnt alive, beaten to death or injected with magnesium sulphate. Today, "euthanasia" often means starving to death, freezing to death, or being left to die of the consequences of diseases, of injuries inflicted during the catching, or of unprofessional sterilizations left without veterinary care.
A report by investigative journalists from RISE Project, released on 24th of July, 2014, confirms that the reality inside Romanian public shelters is shocking, with more than half the animals dying of 'natural causes'.
The report states that, according to the city hall of Ploiesti (50 km from Bucharest), more than half of the 2.445 stray dogs captured last year (2013) from the streets died from ‘natural causes’ inside the public pound, while 297 were euthanised. A further 639 dogs out of a total of 1.516 dogs died of ‘natural causes’ this year – which brings the death rate at 42-56%.
However, the local mayor assured the journalists that the dogs would eat well as the institution has an "agreement with various hypermarkets and slaughterhouse to supply by-products that are not intended for human consumption". The mayor further assured that the shelter fully complies with the legal requirements.
In Galati, from the 502 captured strays, 184 died last year - all of 'natural causes'. In the local pound in Tulcea, 1.057 of 1,059 captured strays were euthanised in 2013. This year, the municipality show consistency in activity: from 444 dogs captured, 419 were euthanized during the period from January till April 2014.
The report released by Rise Project, followed only days after Vier Pfoten released a shocking video on the horrible shelter conditions in Romania's public shelters which made headlines in the Romanian and international news.
Indeed, between March and May 2014, a team of Vier Pfoten investigators visited and assessed 43 public shelters in Romania -- from around 81 currently registered with the Romanian vet authorities. The results of the investigation are shocking: dog cadavers lying among living dogs, a mixture of food and waste, including urine and excrement, on the floor of the dog cages.
Unsurprisingly, one day after the release of this report, on 25th of July, 2014, the Romanian government finally announced the implementation of their 'Animal Police', which had been discussed since quite a few years now and whose creation was also part of the contract that Victor Ponta signed with FPAM on 21st of December, 2011.
The Romanian Animal Police was said to be operational by October, 2014, but today - 12th of October, 2014 - there is still nothing of it to be seen.
In fact, the project 'Animal Police' remained in a drawer from December 2011 until November 2013 when, according to Codrut Feher, discussions about it were initiated at ANSVSA. November 2013 was also the time when they were discussing and creating the Methodological Norms.
After the EU-delegation visited Romania for the second time on January 28th, 2014 - but this time without announcing their visit - and found shocking conditions in public shelters with dogs being left without food and water, Polish MEP Janusz Wojciechowski called on the Romanian authorities to put a monitoring system in place (please see the first video on this page) to avoid that shelter animals were left at the mercy of uncaring, scrupulous people, and that shelter conditions be improved.
In early February 2014, a delegation of representatives of European organisations met with representatives of ANSVSA, the National Romanian Veterinary Authority, in Bucharest. During this meeting, the authorities announced the creation of the Animal Police that would also deal with the situation of stray dogs in shelters.
By end of February 2014, Kuki Barbuceanu -- until then project coordinator at Vier Pfoten and who was instrumental in creating the Methodological Norms for Law 258/2013 (The Slaughter Law) -- was employed by ANSVSA as a 'counselor' and appointed head of the future Animal Police.
According to an article published in the Romanian news on 25th of July, 2014, the Animal Police has now finally been authorized by the government and was expected to be operational in 60 days, meaning by October, 2014.
The article states:
"As of October, any complaint of ill-treatment of an animal will be resolved by the new department of veterinary departments in the country.
"The animal police's role, besides animal status tracking, will be to punish authorities or NGOs if they breach the animal welfare laws," said Vladimir Mănăstireanu President ANSVSA."
DSVSA or Animal Police,
it's the same Mary with another hat
First thing to know, is that ANSVSA stands for 'Autoritatea Nationala Sanitara Veterinara si pentru Siguranta Alimentelor' and which is the 'National Sanitary-Veterinary and Food Safety Authority '.
Sub-Divisions of ANSVSA are the DSVSA (or in short DVS) and which is the County Sanitary-Veterinary and Food Safety Directorat.
Each county has its own DVS and ANSVSA is responsible for the activities of all DVS (their local county sub-divisions). They all belong to ANSVSA, and they control and supervise all that has to do with animals, from slaughterhouses, till circuses, till shelters - public and private.
By clicking on the map of the different local DVS below, the interactive map of ANSVSA will open in new tab.
And a new sub-division of ANSVSA will be the Animal Police. So, basically, ANSVSA stands OVER all of them - including the Animal Police. And some of those who worked for the DSVs, and did nothing for 10 years, will now work for the Animal Police - IF it will then become operational one day!
And according to the law for the organization of ANSVSA, ANSVSA is directly subordinated to the Prime Minister!
And according to the law for the organization of ANSVSA, ANSVSA is directly subordinated to the Prime Minister!
The original document, in Romanian language, was originally published at: http://www.ansvsa.ro/documente/admin/Proiect%20Ordin%20ROF%20pentru%20site_42567ro.pdf
In an TV-interview for 'Brasov's Voices',
Codrut Feher (FNPA) shares his thoughts on the Animal Police
In an TV-interview for 'Brasov's Voices' on 21st of August, 2014, Codrut Feher, from the 'National Federation for Animal Protection' FNPA, talks about his experiences with ANSVSA, the DSV and shares his thoughts and concerns about the Animal Police.
Below, we have translated the interview from Romanian into English for your convenience. In the translation:
- "R" stands for the Reporter, Mircea Valeanu,
- "CF" for Codrut Feher,
- "AP" for Animal Police,
- "ANSVSA" for the National Sanitary-Veterinary and Food Safety Authority,
- and "DVS" stands for their local county sub-divisions
R - Good to see you again, Ladies and Gentlemen, I am Mircea Valean and you are watching 'Brasov’s Voices'.
The Government has now given green light to the creation of Animal Police (AP). This institution will function in the frame of DSVSA's in the entire country. What this institution will bring, we will discuss with my guest Mr Codrut Feher from FNPA. Welcome in our studio, Mr Feher.
CF – Thank you for having me.
R – How did you receive these news?
CF – I reacted with indifference because I knew for long time already about this initiative. Since this idea became public, around November 2013, and like the majority of people who were happy about it, I was also happy. But, in time, this illusion that something might change has vanished, thus these news that the AP will be created, leaves me totally cold and I even feel ready for sarcasm when I hear about AP in the DSVSA version, from Brasov or any other towns in the country.
R – In this case, shall I believe that it is not a positive initiative, from your point of view?
CF – No, it is a good initiative from the part of the government, but …well, from the beginning, the government and ANSVSA, brought this idea on the “market“ in order to counter the image deficit they got after passing the mass euthanasia law. Then they came up with this idea that they must do something: "OK we kill the dogs, but still we have to do something about the trespassing of the law for the protection of animals, to take tough measures, and so on".
We already had a discussion on this theme when we collaborated to the authoring of the Methodological Norms for the law for the management of stray dogs, and we said: "Listen, one of the aspects which you have to be concerned with is the wellbeing of these animals you want to kill, animals you were incapable to protect in any way in the last 10 years, so basically you did nothing for them" and a Director from ANSVSA, named Duicu, assured me that they do many things, but nothing happened.
The idea is as follows: this initiative came in order the counter the effect on the image they had, it created, let's say some sort of enthusiasm in the population, regardless if they love or not the animals, and regardless of their civility.
Most of the people thought that if AP will be in place things will radically, change drastically... that this institution will be some sort of messianic institution, which will save the animals, will be tough, will do everything the other institutions did not do, but, during the following months, this project was frozen until the beginning of 2014. Nothing happened at the beginning of this year, all DVSs and also ANSVSA, have silently refused to apply any sanctions regarding the wellbeing of animals, and when they received complaints, they explained that the AP is not yet functional.
This attitude is almost grotesque, because until they had the AP, the had the laws and the responsibility to uphold the laws long before the so called Animal Police. So, if they did not do anything, did not apply sanctions... what can make me believe that the moment they will change the name of one department in DVS, which was called “Animal Welfare” which they already have, with the name "Animal Police" the way they act (function) will not change, because we talk about the same employees?
And I give you an example: in Brasov, we have Constantin Vladila, who, for years, for all complaints we made, closed his eyes, frankly making a mockery out of all the complaints and the shear reality on the ground, and now, he will be part of AP. What will happen with this man? Will he have another conscience?
And this situation is in all DVSs in the entire country. When regarding the situation of stray dogs, there are huge pressures from the town halls (from the mayors), they cannot do anything, then what can I expect from AP? It will be the same Mary with another hat!
R - Let’s see which role this institution should have? What exactly should the AP do, Mr. Feher?
CF - Well they should... OK, let see… In the West, there is a brand, an extraordinary brand…OK, let’s say this: In Romania we had many experiments, and fraud… they came up with the AP as an NGO. You know that there was an NGO named Animal Police, right?
R - Right, and there was quite a scandal with this one.
CF – Yes, it was a scandal. They did not have the right to use this title, they created this AP In Brasov, from the dog catching public service, and then it became the dog catching service again. They made one in Bucharest Public service AP in the frame (inside) of Local Police Sector 1.
Everybody likes this title because it is a brand which jumps in the eyes. In western societies, it is associated with extremely determined people who save animals and give fines to those who trespass the norms for the protection of animals, and in Romania, the use of this title has encouraged the tendency of fooling people. So, until now we had an AP which was something completely different of what their name said.
Definitively, this name came like a publicity stunt, like a brand... ANSVSA managed to remain in some sort of light for months, because they proposed this service. People even swallowed the fact that the laws have not been applied for months, because sometime in the future the AP will be created, and thus ANSVSA will redeem all its sins.
So, from my point of view, the use of this new “brand” and initiative only tried to wash ANSVSA prestige, to raise their image, to clean their image and to give an illusory hope to many people. So, again, AP, except the fact that it has this name, the name of an extraordinary brand, they will do what the DVS must do anyways: sanction and verify how the norms of the well being and protection of animals are being applied.
Those who do not know, might believe that AP comes with a new set of regulations. This is not true. It is only about another institution. The laws and the sanctions already exist, the institution which have to apply them already exist. So the DVS existed, the Police existed, they have all the tools. What stopped them from using them?
R - But they did not have that department.
CF - Yes, they did not have that department. And what forced them not to apply them? They had all the tools. So they could not function without this title? Without this new brand?
Thus, it is nothing new under the sun but this title, and the new bureaucracy, which for me is boring… The apparition of a new police, a new directorate… without proper effects. I do not know why I should expect something good?
And yes, one more detail for those who watch us, in order to give more credibility to this AP, they thought from the beginning to put at its helms, a well-known Vier Pfoten member, whom I know very well and also have good relation with and is known by many people.
R - One of your allies, Kuki Barbuceanu.
CF – Yes, Kuki Barbuceanu, who was involved for years in this matter, he was recruited, so to speak and introduced in the ANSVSA… which passed the contest for this job, in order for him to become the head of this AP. So basically this man sits there for months... how should I say, floating on two waters, without having a fix position. He is a sort of counsellor, and the ANSVSA walks him around like displaying a bear, and when somebody asks something about Animal Police they point towards Kuki and the AP: "We will soon have AP!”
Meanwhile, I am getting bored by this tune and I see that in the territory horrible things happen and no measures are being taken. Hence, why should I expect something good?
R - Do you believe that it would have been better if this AP function independently of ANSVSA?
CF - This is a more complex discussion. In the West, where there is a democratic culture (mentality) and the NGO have a more important role in the society, or their merits are being recognized, there is some sort of duality. There are NGOs who have the mandate to make a first evaluation and to collaborate with the Police which comes immediately and gives out the sanctions. This would have been a reasonable model. As long as we deal as a state institution, which from the standpoint of the topic of our discussion, is on a lamentable position.
Recently, I asked ANSVSA some information of public interest - we are still waiting to receive them – to see how many sanctions they issued since their beginning... what did they do in this aspect (animal protection)… so, people keep waiting that something is done, nothing has been done on this issue. It is also about mentality, and at the end also about callousness, frankly, so as long as the law gives sanctions for years and years, and you, as Authority do nothing about it in 10 years since the animal protection law is in force and one can count on the fingers of one hand how many sanctions have been issued in the entire country, under the circumstances where we know how we treat animals. This speaks for itself.
R - If we would take an example from the U.S. or any other countries, this AP has employees with a certain uniform, so they have a certain prestige and authority. Is this the way things should be in our country, too?
CF - Yes.
R - You know that an ANSVSA inspector does not have such an uniform but probably only a badge.
CF - Yes, but an ANSVSA inspectors do not necessarily miss an uniform, they miss the will to do something. Again, we were so many times in some situation when the DVS came with the Police, or the Police came first in uniform, with anything you want, but did nothing.
It is not necessarily about prestige, it is about the way this situation mirrors itself in the Romanian mentality. The way the authorities understand to apply the law. This is the situation… it is not about the uniform, it is not about how you look. If you say that you can do nothing because the mayor comes after you, what can we expect? What can an uniform do?
R - Now that there will be this especially created department, don’t you think that they will dedicate themselves to these problems about animal protection?
CF - Mr. Valean, I know many situations and modus operandi of most of DSV's, not only the one in Brasov which is pathetic from my point of view. I know how DSV from Arad to Braila to Constanta operate, where people are the same. They are not at all dedicated!
It is not only about the dogs, it is also about other animals. The problem of the horses from Letea... you know what happened then, it was something totally grotesque. The Director of DVS Tulcea protected that horrible action of animal torture, which was completely illegal. Nothing happened to that director of DVS Tulcea. What could these people do, eventually?
But we will continue and we can only hope that a state institution – and we will have this discussion with the management of ANSVSA – because we sent them some very tough petitions, we will tell them that with or without the AP, we hope that under the pressure of the civil society they will apply the law. We will teach them to respect the law. We will take them to justice everytime they will not follow the law and we will teach them to do it eventually.
But this does not come naturally. I met ONE man, in the entire country, a man whose name I will not give you, nor the DVS where he works because he is in danger. ONE single sanitary-veterinary inspector in this entire country who does his job. It is THE only one. And I can not tell you where he is because he might be fired. So he is competent, and he goes, and when he sees that the law is not applied, he closes down and he says: "I do not know why they do not apply the law!" He gives a fine and closes down, then another fine and closes down again. This does not happen in other parts. So here he comes the Director of DVS Ramnicu-Valcea and in front of irrefutable evidence, taped, where that shelter is a ruin, a horrible stable and says. "We did not see this thing” and then he says: "oh, those pathetic thieves, they steal! I told them this and that…"
So, these are our dialogues with DVSs, and ANSVSA tells us : “What can we do if mayors put pressure on us? What to do if mayors call Dragnea and Dragnea calls Ponta, and Ponta calls Manastireanu? What can we do? Dance?"
So, this is the situation. I do not know how this could change? And I say it again, I believe in the change for the better in people, because we do not lack laws nor institutions. Again, without AP, we had the Romanian Police, and DVS. Not all countries have Animal Police. They have some forms of DVS or whatever names they have, but those people apply the law, regardless of their names, they apply the law.
The problem is not about institutions and law, because we have plenty, but the people. The people. Bad quality people. By example this AP does not hire new people, they do not bring new blood in. They basically move that hat from one head to another, from the 'well being of animals', that during the last 10 years did nothing on someone else’s head, or pushed the hat a bid backward. So this is it.
R - I can not see any optimism in you…
CF – It is a good initiative but I am afraid it might be an 'escrocherie' (which is French for scam, swindle, piece of roguery).
R - Based on the fact that Mr. Kuki Barbuceanu is or will be the head of this Police, doesn’t this give you more hope?
CF – Yes, at the beginning I was even very enthusiastic…"WOW, fantastic, we will collaborate…" But tell me, how will he do all of this by himself, because the conditions do not change , the mayor will continue to pressure (on the DVSs) and Romanians attitude and mentality will be the same, regarding a contravention, the fines for cruelty to animals…how can this extraordinary change be made?
Yes, it is one step... but, why am I pessimist? Because I was very optimistic when I saw this change, but I saw that they did not have the will to make this change, and they just wasted time, I saw that they publicly acknowledged that they can not make a fundamental change in the way they manage this topic regarding animal protection, then what shall I expect?
So those who expect an extraordinary revolution, a shift in the animal protection in Romania are mistaken. As long as in the justice system… well I want to tell you that we had cases in the penal area, because there are sanctions for infractions which for years have been not implemented, I do not know why. There is evidence, but people try to get out of situations, to find excuses not to apply even a penal fine. I do not talk about jail time, it is too much for our mentality. But at least a penal fine, and we had horrible experiences in Penal Courts but we also had good ones. We have discovered a judge, I do not say in which Tribunal, who, regardless what the prosecutor said or not, he looked at the evidence and at what was proved in front of him.
So, I have big hopes in the Justice to have some results. But still, by example, just to let you see how far absurdity can go, we had a case with a dog who was beaten until he was killed by his owner. The neighbors saw it, they witnessed this horrible spectacle, they called us, we called the police, we undug the dog from where he was buried, we sent the cadaver to DVS, which in this case, not being biased, gave a correct necropsy certificate , the dog had wound and a posttraumatic hematoma, quite big, and the final conclusion of the judge was that, even after we presented him all the evidence, that even if the dog had a post traumatic hematoma we could not prove that the hematoma was provoked by a trauma. This was the decision of the court. So it is like a Kafka situation. Pure absurdity.
Well, when we encounter this kind of situations, what else could we expect? Again, we hope that this experiment (AP) will be finalized, because if it were not, then the people would say that everything happens because there is no AP. Now that they will have an AP, lets see what will happen. If we will see Mr. Fratila Constantin in an uniform going here and there...
R (he cuts of Codrut) - when we say Police, we think about sanctions, fines... maybe even the title will give more credibility to the institution?
CF - We will see. I understand that the official title will be the Sanitary Veterinary Animal Police. I do not understand why they made it so complicated, but we will see. My opinion is that this Police should have been part of the Ministry of Public Administration, which could have been even easier to create, because the MAI can create all sorts of police, and because they have more personnel to choose from, because they already have a police training which is necessary in some situations, some are tough, while these new people who are mostly used to work in offices, can not transform themselves over night in 'policemen/women'.
Also, local DVS always came with the pretext that they do not have enough personnel, being county offices, they have 2-3 employees for well being of animals, 2-3 food inspectors, and they always said that they do not have enough time to do everything.
R - and this AP will have quite a few areas of activity, like zoos, dogs shelters, circuses...
CF - Yes, yes, yes... by example when circuses come to town, we also send reports to DVS, like if a tiger is not kept in the required conditions, the DVS Brasov comes and says that everything is OK... But, the DVS from another town which I talked about but did not name, goes there and fines the circus right away. So, everything is like relativity. It depends from which angle one situation is looked upon, and also of the people. DVS Brasov goes to inspect the circuses, but instead of giving a fine because they did not get an authorization before, they give it them right away on the spot. In other parts of the country it is different, but very rare of course.
Well, I do not know what to say, but even from the logistic standpoint, there are way too few people for one county. Everything is based on the law for the protection of animals, which the Police itself can apply, and only the Police can give sanctions and fines and recommend prosecution, but every time we have been confronted with this kind of cases the Policemen said that they have no knowledge, and to better get the DVS involved, although if the law attributed to the Police the power to give fines and sanctions, they should have done it.
Now, they can say: "AH, it is not our role anymore you have to call the AP ...!"
I think it will be a very bizarre situation. It is not very clear how AP can be a functional service, and I think that even those people who created it still did not get a very clear image of how they will organize this activity, and what they did so far is to offer to the people, some kind of big Bang (he said BOMB, like bombshell... breaking news) but they will work with the same people already in DVS, who did nothing until now.
R - Anyways Mr Feher, we will see what will happen from October on when it is supposed to start its activity, and we thank you very much for coming here to talk to us.
Romania's Animal Protection Laws, as well as the Methodological Norms for Law 258/2013 - the Slaughter Law - are of purely cosmetic nature given that there is nil enactment of any animal welfare laws and now indeed even governmental department declared ignorance of law applicability.
Cosmetic posturing for external political consumption has declared an Animal Police, which is declared but inactive and populated by politically naive puppets whose inactive presence endorses the cosmetic posturing.
Since February 2014 we have a government paid scapegoat who effectively does nothing, but with an incredibly strong future possibility... of being constrained to do nothing!