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17 September 2014

A four-year-old boy mauled to death by dogs in Romania – resulting in the mass slaughter of thousands of stray animals – was actually killed by a pack of dogs belonging to a private company, it has been revealed.

S.C. Tei Residential and its manager have had manslaughter charges filed against them in relation to Ionut Anghel’s death in September 2013

The trial has been postponed until October as the company’s manager failed to produce a lawyer. Both the prosecutor and defendants have agreed to a secret trial, and no statements have been made.

In the official investigation document, it states that the boy entered the private property “without obstacle”, and that the company’s grounds should have been secured enough to keep its dogs exclusively on its property, in accordance with legislation on dog ownership.

After the Ionut’s death, Romania’s President Traian Basescu declared that “humans are above dogs”, and pushed through a controversial law that saw Bucharest’s strays captured and, if they weren’t adopted or homed within two weeks, euthanised.

As a result, some 16,000 strays are thought to have been destroyed by the ASPA (Bucharest Authority for Surveillance and Protection of Animals).

The slaughter triggered worldwide protests from animal rights groups, who have called for the use of more humane measures to deal with the country’s stray dog problem.

The law, passed in January this year, was met by a skeptical public. Many believed that Ionut’s death had been used to manipulate the public into supporting it, so that the city’s longstanding problem with stray dogs could finally be resolved.

The international animal welfare organisation Four Paws branded the move “barbaric”, and challenged the law in court. As a result, the Bucharest Court of Appeal suspended parts of the law in June.

Despite this, the ASPA has admitted 8,000 strays since June, while a further 2,000 are being kept in public pounds.

Gabriel Paun, director of campaigns at Four Paws, said in a statement: “It is outrageous how easily society got cheated and manipulated by emotions. The poor child was not killed by stray dogs, but tens of thousands of dogs have already paid the death penalty to wash away the guilt of the incapable government and its inability to manage the situation.”

Razvan Bancescu, head of ASPA, said earlier this month that the number of people bitten by stray dogs has decreased by 84 per cent in a year.

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