09/12/2013 01:35 EDT | Updated 09/13/2013 06:29 EDT

Romania Stray Dog Slaughter Approved Amid Protests From Animal Activists

Bucharest, ROMANIA: An employee of the Animal Survey Administration tries to catch a stray dog by a lasso in front of a block of flats in Bucharest, 03 February 2006. Local authorities (Bucharest Mayor and Chief of Animal Survey Administration) took the decision to start the campaign of the stray dogs gathering after a Japanese businessman died because of a wound made by a dog bite 29 January 2006. AFP PHOTO DANIEL MIHAILESCU (Photo credit should read DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images)

The Romanian government has given the green-light to the mass killing of tens and thousands of stray dogs in the country's capital, The Associated Press reports.

The move comes after a 4-year-old boy was attacked and killed while playing outside a park with his older brother. In 2011, a woman was mauled to death by a pack of strays.

The law allows the state to round up the city's estimated 60,000 strays and have them put down. Despite hundreds of protesters urging parliamentarians to vote against it, the law was overwhelmingly approved -- by a vote of 266 to 23.

"We want a civilized capital, we don't want a jungle," Adina Suiu, a hairdresser in Bucharest told AP. "When I walk around my neighborhood, I am always looking over my shoulder. If we don't stop them now, we will be taken over by dogs."

Gabriel Paun, director for animal rights group 4Pfoten, told BBC News, a nation-wide sterilization strategy is necessary to control the burgeoning dog population.

"In the last few years we've castrated 100,000 dogs in Romania altogether, 10,600 of them in Bucharest," he said. "But it's not enough, this is a voluntary private project -- we need them to do the same thing at national level."

According to rescue group Any Dog, the cost of killing a street dog may be considerably higher than sterilizing it.

The city of some two million people shares its public spaces with an estimated 40,000 to 60,000 stray dogs -- a number that has ballooned since the fall of communism in 1989.

A Bucharest hospital spokesman told The Associated Press 9,760 people have been treated for dog bites in the first eight months of this year.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story suggested a boy was killed by dogs in a park. He was, in fact, near a park.

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