Stray Dogs Offered as Pedestrian Role Models
DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images
A stray dog walks along a crosswalk in Bucharest, Romania.
June 21, 2012 -
These dogs were part of the Loews Dog Surfing Competition at Coronado Bay Resort in San Diego on June 16. More than 50 dogs participated as thousands of fans watched the event. Ricochet, a golden retriever, who won in the large dog category.
VIDEO: The Dogs in Action
Dog surfing trainers say the dogs who like the water and the beach are in the sport and that dogs who fear the water are not even trainable.
Do Dogs Really Like to Surf?
The dogs are judged on their confidence, length of ride and fashion, according to judge Teevan McManus.
If dogs are enthusiastic about the sport, are in good health and are monitored very carefully with safety in mind, the Humane Society gives the sport a thumbs up.
Once canines are comfortable on the surfboards they are taken out onto the water and trainers hold the boards while letting the dogs feel the rhythm of the water
Owners should first have their dogs checked out thoroughly by a veterinarian to make sure the pets are healthy enough to withstand the activity, experts say.
Stray dogs seen traversing pedestrian crossings are being used by the Romanian traffic police in a new safety campaign to convince pedestrians to be more careful when crossing the road.
"If they can do it, then everyone can do it -- cross on pedestrian crossings!", says the short TV spot while showing several stray dogs using zebra and pelican crossings.
The dogs were filmed in several Romanian cities.
"They send us an extraordinary message showing that animals can respect important safety rules," Lucian Dinita, Romania's traffic police chief, said.
The example of stray dogs could prove crucial in a country where 360 people died last year because of "pedestrian lack of discipline," according to the police.
More than 1,200 were injured for the same reason.
"I was shocked when I realized how many people died in road accidents just because they did not cross on crosswalks," Semida Duriga, the director of Next Advertising agency, said.
Duriga was the one who conceived the campaign.
"I thought of what you often see in Bucharest: dogs crossing at crosswalks or waiting for traffic lights to turn red for cars before crossing," she added.
"These stray dogs did not get education on traffic safety but they instinctively perceive that to do so is safer," Duriga explained.
A stray dog walks along a crosswalk in Bucharest, Romania.DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP/Getty Images
Some 40,000 homeless canines live in Bucharest alongside a human population of two million, according to authorities and animal rights groups.
Their numbers started proliferating in the 1980s when then communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu had some of Bucharest's oldest residential districts razed and replaced with apartment blocs, causing many owners to part with their pets.
Despite a massive euthanasia campaign between 2001 and 2007, stray dogs remained part of daily life in Romania.
Many are fed and even vaccinated by animal rights groups and dog lovers.
Last year, Romania's constitutional court ruled against a bill allowing local authorities to put down stray dogs.