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Balkan animal cruelty in focus

In this March 23, 2006, file picture a Romanian animal rights activist hugs an adopted stray dog during a protest in Bucharest Romania.Animal protection groups say they plan to protest Friday, April 30, 2010, against the Romanian government's proposal to euthanize thousands of stray dogs after 11,000 people were bitten in the capital last year.There are between 40,000 and 100,000 stray dogs in Bucharest.(AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Balkan animal cruelty in focus

A litter of puppies wrapped in a blanket and set on fire. A dog roaming the streets with its jaw hacked off. Cats found at the bottom of an apartment block, spines snapped.

It's part of a catalog of cruelty in recent months that has gone barely noticed in Romania.

The struggling EU country has seen a spate of brutal attacks against animals following the deadly mauling of a 4-year-old boy in August by one of Bucharest's tens of thousands of street dogs. Police and animal welfare officials say the attacks were fueled by relentless and "hysterical" media coverage of the case.

The Four Paws animal welfare group registered 15 cases of people savagely attacking animals in the six weeks after the boy's death, compared to six cases of similar cruelty in the previous nine months. (AP)