For the regular readers of this blog, you might remember some of my previous posts about flea and thrift markets here in Romania. The draw of these places is huge – the vast array of things you can see and find is always guaranteed to be interesting: the sights, the crowds, the smell of freshly cooked langoș and mici, the sellers on their little stalls blasting Romanian music on hi-fi systems from the 90s – it’s brilliant. However, on my most recent visit, there was some ugliness to be seen as well as all the good stuff…
I was, as always, treated to some spectacular displays of jumble stalls filled with miscellaneous items. My personal favourite being a man selling a modest pile of coats, a ladies boot and a brown shoe.
Although the majority of my time spent here was pleasant and interesting, the visit took quite a sad turn when it came to looking at the animal section. Seeing animals in small cages is never nice, even when they are alone in the cage and have space to move…so seeing dogs, rabbits and birds piled on top of each other in small cages was pretty grim to witness. I saw a man buy a rabbit and proceed to put it into a plastic carrier bag to take it home, and later, a bird seller putting the birds into tiny paper bags once they’d been sold – the type of bags you’d get penny sweets in.
The most shocking thing I saw, was a group of puppies that had recently had their ears “cropped”. This procedure is banned in many countries, including Romania – it was shocking to see these poor pups with raggedly stitched up half-ears. When we asked the seller why this had been done – she said, rather defensively, that it was for their own good in order to prevent infection. Even though Romania is slowly improving its animal protection laws, it’s sad that more is not being done; the lack of animal welfare organisations and charities is astounding. Largely, the mentality regarding animal welfare here is quite behind the times and drastically needs to change.
It was quite surprising to find an entire corner of this thrift market dedicated to selling animals of all kinds. Many people were selling puppies, kittens or older pets that they didn’t want anymore. There were also stalls selling fish and all sorts of birds. Groups of puppies, kittens and rabbits were simply sitting on tables waiting to be bought – it was a very strange thing to witness. The animals were all in good condition and weren’t being neglected, which is something, but still…the general scenario was quite sad. This particular day was very hot and sunny; so having the animals sitting out without shelter, for goodness knows how many hours, just seemed wrong.
Something I find incredibly contrasting to England, is the number of stray dogs here in Romania. I was very taken aback when I first witnessed just how many strays there were. On my first full day travelling around the city of Oradea (Nov. 2011), I saw more than 30 stray dogs. It is very sad.
On more than one occasion, I have come across pairs of strays that seem like they are old friends. They follow each other around, keeping each other company and playing together. It fills me with mixed emotions.