Dog cull sets tongues wagging

Most of the articles I write are based around numbers. The reason for this is although I enjoy writing number-based articles it is just much easier to get hold of information in a numerical form than a document that has been written by somebody in their words. Personally I believe this is because many people don’t appreciate that numbers can be just as powerful as words and officials have an in built nervousness and reluctance to issue documents written by their colleagues.

However, I still try to get hold of letters and internal correspondence using Freedom of Information laws but frequently I end up banging my head against a brick wall. On a side issue it would appear the noises coming out of the Ministry of Justice – now that rubber-faced Michael Gove is in charge – mean things are likely to get harder for FoI journalists rather than easier.

Anyhow I had a rare success with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in that I extracted from them a chain of correspondence between the Romanian embassy and Whitehall in relation to the fate of dogs in Bucharest. It would appear that after Nicolas Causescu took charge of the East European nation he shipped many of the residents into grim looking Eastern–block style high rise flats. This meant the locals had nowhere for their dogs, so they abandoned them to the street.

Fast forward 30 odd years and the streets of the Romanian capital are overrun with an estimated 60,000 stray dogs – not somewhere you’d like to go for a weekend break!

When the local Government brought in a culling programme in the wake of a child’s death animal rights supporters started complaining about what was happening. These concerns reached the Foreign Office who then had a word with the Romanians, basically saying “this sort of thing is just not cricket, old boy”.

The Foreign Office let me have some documents [FOI 0451 documents] including a rather amusing letter to the embassy from the mayor of Bucharest, and I used them for this article in the Mail on Sunday.

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