Shortly before Christmas, Animals' Angels visits animal markets in Romania. For the first time in many years we find the markets of Calarasi and Calugareni empty without a single animal being sold. Also, along the streets and in backyards we don't see the usual killing of pigs for the ‚holidays' - and we feel a vague relief. But this soon gives way to disappointment: local veterinarians and policemen explain that the markets are closed due to the African Swine Fever. According to reports from the national veterinary authority, 364,044 pigs have so far been killed throughout Romania to combat the disease and prevent its further spread.
We continue to the north of Romania, the market in Iasi is in full swing. No pigs are sold, but sheep and goats, and this with the usual brutality: they are stacked next and on top of each other with their legs tied together at -3 °C. Their skins are wet from the snow and they tremble with cold. We can cover some of them with blankets to give at least some warmth. Even though many horses that people bring to and from the market with carriages have a blanket over their backs, the traders don't seem to understand our gesture. "The goats will be killed soon anyway, for Christmas", they say. Goat Anja is still being killed on the market grounds.
The outbreak of African swine fever shows that the Romanian authorities can, in fact, coordinate and enforce orders and laws – if they want. Unfortunately, this only seems to work when it comes to health issues, but not for animal welfare.