Stray dogsJune 20, 2012
Over a year ago, I wrote rather tongue in cheek, about the issue of stray dogs in Ukraine.
This subject raised its head again prior to the Euro 2012 football tournament commencing when authorities made attempts to remove the stray dog issue prior to fans and tourists descending in the hundreds of thousands to be met by packs of strays running around.
If of an Eastern European heritage, tourists and fans alike would not give the matter a second thought. It is not only an issue for Ukraine but all the former communist nations both east and west of Ukraine.
There is a neutering programme in some cities, Odessa for instance, but it simply cannot keep up with the reproductive numbers of the strays. Not only is the neutering programme expensive, it also faces the task of thousands of dogs to neuter, and once neutered, the dogs are released back onto the streets, (identidfied by a red collar as being neutered in Odessa), thus not providing any form of immediate remedy to the issue of today.
In fact given the scale of the issue when the neutering programme started and multiply that by the reproduction of so many dogs not yet neutered, it is easy to see a somewhat King Canute scenario of trying to turn back the tide, in so much as the time it takes to neuter a dog, a lot more have been born somewhere in the region.
Recognising that, Odessa then started a Stalin-esque deportation programme of strays. They are rounded up in ad hoc purges and taken out into the middle of nowhere and released. Naturally that is not necessarily the answer either. If there is no food where they are released they will roam until they find it. The food trail and good-willed people who feed the strays scraps on a daily basis, naturally leads back to the cities.
Other cities, and this did get media and civil society attention in the prelude to the EURO 2012 tournament, went on a culling spree. At least until the animal rights and more humane minded citizens found out and caused this solution to stop.
Needless to say, Ukrainian authorities were vilified by such people despite the fact they too have no answers to the immediate problem. Aside from culling these animals, of course, there is no immediate solution, all other options are long term or hit and miss. As I say, very much an attempt to turn back the tide that is destined to fail due to the sheer scale of the ever reproducing problem.
In Sofia, Bulgaria, which has a very similar problem (and it is not alone in the former communist nations now within the EU), society has recognised the fact that the authorities simply cannot cope and have taken matters into their own hands.
Yes indeed, the citizens of Izgrev and Istok regions in Sofia have now taken to simply poisoning the dogs in the streets of Sofia, and one presumes, leaving the authorities with the easier task of simply disposing of the carcasses.
If the Ukrainian authorities or Ukrainian public did that, the European media would be writing graphic stories of how un-European Ukraine and Ukrainians are.