Steven Seagal is known mainly for starring in some of the most mediocre action movies of the late 1980s and early ’90s. While he may never have sunk to the level of Dolph Lundgren or Jean-Claude Van Damme, a marathon of any random three Seagal films would probably have enough cheese in it to pose a serious risk of cholesterol poisoning to its audience.
If Seagal hasn’t really brought the art of cinema to its zenith, he has at least been better for the animal kingdom. He has been a vocal animal rights activist for years. In 2003 he called upon the government of Thailand to pass legislation against torture of baby elephants. He also has spoken against wearing fur as well as animal cruelty in many venues.
Now, Seagal has added a member to his extended family by adopting a 7-month-old puppy in Bucharest, Romania. The dog won’t be going home to live with Seagal and become part of his Hollywood entourage. Rather, Seagal is doing a “long-distance” adoption, which means the dog stays in the shelter in Bucharest, and Seagal will pay 60 lei ($18) per month for his upkeep.
Okay, maybe he’s not really going all-out for the dogs on this one. Even dog bloggers can afford more than $18 a month. And right now, there are a lot of dogs in Bucharest who need help. In September, the government passed legislation allowing for mass extermination of the city’s stray dogs. The new law was inspired when Ionut, a 4-year-old boy, was killed and eaten by a dog while he and his brother were playing in a city park.
There are estimated to be about 65,000 feral dogs wandering the streets in Bucharest, and the death of Ionut has channeled a lot of long-simmering resentment among the citizens. There have been protests with angry parents waving signs saying “We’re not dog food!” German magazine Spiegel Online quotes Iulian Leca, a Romanian journalist, on the topic: “The street dogs have long since conquered Romania’s cities. At night, especially, it is they and not the police who control the streets.”
According to the new law, any dog who’s in a shelter for 14 days without being adopted will be euthanized. So, Seagal’s long-distance adoption will at least allow the puppy to live, even if he’s not destined to become the next Spuds Mackenzie or Benji. And it does get the issue of Bucharest’s euthanasia campaign some headlines that animal rights groups have been trying desperately to get.
In a statement to the press, Seagal did acknowledge that publicity is his ultimate goal with the adoption: “I am doing the best I can to bring awareness … so that we can make sure these accidents and tragedies don’t happen again,” he said.
For more information on the situation for dogs in Romania, check out the Hope for Romanian Strays Facebook page.