In the past, Romania managed to become (in)famous worldwide thanks to its stray dog problem (among other things, of course). It wasn’t uncommon to have groups of stray dogs roam the streets and even attack pedestrians.
This “fame” was earned at least a couple decades ago so now, after all this time, we’re right to ask the question again. Does Romania still have a stray dog problem?
There are a lot of people who think or worry that Romania might be a country where packs of stray dogs still roam the streets and are ready to attack anybody who crosses their path. So in this article, we’re going to talk about stray dogs in Romania.
Stray dogs: still here?
No matter if we’re talking about dogs in Bucharest, some other major city or smaller towns, the perception of the public seems to be the same: there’s way too many of them wandering the streets, being violent and attacking passers by.
In reality, things are much different (and improving on an yearly basis). Although Romania hasn’t completely managed to deal with its stray dogs, things are much better now than they were decades ago when, in some areas, it was actually dangerous to walk because of these dogs.
I remember that in my home town, there were some regions that everybody knew and avoided, because the dogs took over. It was so bad that even now, so many years after, I am still afraid of going jogging in the largest park in the city because that is where the dogs used to hang out.
But in reality, there are none left. And the same can be said about most parts of Romania, especially the ones that tourists are most likely to visit.
This means that Romania and stray dogs are slowly starting to make peace. In the larger cities, the stray dogs have been reduced to a bare minimum. And most of the smaller cities are in a similar situation: many of the stray dogs have been neutered and tagged, although there are still enough roaming the streets, with some areas being worse than others.
But generally, you should no longer worry about being attacked by stray dogs in Romania.
Many measures have been taken along the years to combat the increasing numbers of strays in the country and most cities have dealt with the problem nicely.
You can still see a stray dog here and there, usually dogs that are fed by either the homeless or people living in the apartment blocks nearby.
Even fewer of the already few strays are actually dangerous: most of them are just miserable because they lack proper housing and care, but are otherwise friendly and happy to see humans around. I haven’t had a stray bark at me or try to attack me in over 10 years – maybe more.
It is true, there is still a lack of education in the country – combined with a lack of funds to properly take care of the poor dogs in Romania – which means that some particular areas have more strays than others.
This usually goes for the poorer neighborhoods or cities where people who no longer afford taking care of their dogs simply throw them out on the streets… which is definitely sad and hopefully improving on an yearly basis.
Many people still don’t afford to have their dogs taken to the vet – or they don’t want to – and end up with too many puppies to handle and eventually release them on the streets. But these practices are also slowing down, fortunately, helping to keep the overall numbers low.
However, the family that moved to Brasov from the US told me in an interview that one of the things that bothered them the most there were stray dogs. So they definitely exist in Brasov, just as they still do in small numbers in other cities.
But in most cases, they are not violent. Sure, they will bark and protect their “Territory” especially if you are walking your dog in their neighborhood, but they are no longer attacking other people.
Because in most occasions, these stray dogs in Romania are not 100% homeless. Many of them have an owner, but are allowed to roam free outside.
I remember when I was young, my family had a dog who spent most of the day outside actually: he was leaving the house in the morning and returning in the afternoon. He usually let us know he’s back by scratching the door to the yard until somebody left him in.
This was considered normal just a few decades ago! I am not sure what was the point of this, to be honest, but this was how things went back then.
However, this practice has mostly died as well since dog catchers are more active in Romania than they were a couple decades ago, and people more educated and caring with their pets.
It’s also worth noting that, for example, a Brazilian who spent a few months in Romania noted that he saw no stray dogs in Bucharest during his stay.
I wouldn’t personally go as far as saying that, but I do agree that compared to my youth, there are almost no strays left around. Sure, seeing one here, one there, roaming the streets, might still be considered too much by most people, but at least the packs that some are worried they might see are generally gone.
During a quick visit to a nearby small town called Vanju Mare (exploring the area around our village house in Oltenia), I saw the largest group of dogs I have seen in many years. Probably 6-7 dogs were just chilling in front of an apartment building, completely ignoring all passers by.
Actually, one of them was so happy to see us that she came over, wiggling her tail and begging for attention. I believe that these were dogs that people in the area fed, so they were friendly… but still without a home. They weren’t tagged and one of them seemed to have puppies, which was even sadder.
But on the other hand, Vanju Mare is far from being considered a place tourists would visit. I haven’t been there before and I would’ve never went there unless we had this village house nearby.
So in the end, most of the areas in Romanian cities are pretty safe when it comes to stray dogs. You will rarely see one and I doubt that there are many chances of seeing the packs that were famous a while ago.
The very poor areas of a city – or its outskirts – as well as smaller towns are most likely to house more of these dogs, but even here they are not aggressive in most occasions, just miserable and sad.
However, as a safety measure, I recommend trying to keep the distance if you see a stray while in Romania: you never know when a friendly-looking one decides to start acting tough! Better be safe than sorry!
But I must say it again: there are big chances that you will see no stray dogs during a shorter stay in Romania, especially if you stick to the central or the more touristic areas of a city.
Now, over to you. Have you been to Romania? Saw any strays or, most importantly, had any problems with them? Share your experiences with our readers below.