Ukraine Dogs – Are Ukraine officials killing off stray dogs to rid them as a nuisance? Animal welfare groups accuse authorities in the country of using illegal and inhumane methods of killing them in away that causes a long, agonizing deaths. They say dogs are often poisoned or injected with banned substances as officials rush to clear streets ahead of the Euro 2012 soccer championship next summer.
Their is one story of a stray in a community that the neighbors called Naida, who swallowed a piece of sausage she found on the ground. Soon after, she collapsed. For the next two hours the dog convulsed in agony, barking and howling in a high-pitched voice, saliva and blood dripping from her mouth. “What did they punish you for, my good girl?” an elderly woman said as she wept and doused the dog with water, hoping to relieve some of the pain. Then Naida died.
Euro 2012 organizers deny any involvement in a stray eradication campaign. Full official statistics are hard to come by, but figures and estimates provided to The Associated Press by authorities in the Euro 2012 host cities of Kiev, Donetsk, Kharkiv and Lviv show more than 9,000 dogs have been put to death over the past year. Animal protection groups believe the number is far higher.
“It’s a slaughterhouse,” said Asya Serpinska, head of the Ukrainian Association of Animal Protection Organizations. “We are convinced that there is an unofficial order to purge Euro cities of stray animals so that, God forbid, some stray dog doesn’t bite some foreigner.”
Ukraine has a large stray dog population, estimated at tens of thousands in some cities. The dogs, often running in packs, can be seen on streets, in parks and even children’s playgrounds. Nearly 3,000 people reported being bitten by stray dogs last year in Kiev and about 1,900 in Kharkiv, according to city officials.
On paper, officials have embraced the internationally accepted practice of sterilizing strays, then releasing them into areas where they pose no public threat, placing them in shelters or finding them homes. Sick or aggressive dogs are humanely euthanized. But in reality, activists contend, a stray dog handled by authorities has little chance of survival. The only question, they say, is how much it will suffer before it dies. Shelters are virtually nonexistent, pet adoption unpopular and sterilization costly; most dogs are simply put down, they say.
“It’s capture and kill,” said John Ruane of Naturewatch, a British-based animal welfare group that monitors the situation in Ukraine. “It’s just barbaric.”
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