Animal Rights Violations Rampant, Victims Protest Via Civic Activism

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine may be making progress in meeting European political and economic standards, but the country is lagging far behind the civilized world in the humane treatment of animals.

Ukrainians can be cruel to stray animals, as in the case of this murdered dog

In fact violations of international and Ukrainian laws are widespread as local governments choose less expensive ways of dealing with stray dog problems.

The violations have stimulated civic activism among pet owners throughout the country.

In Chernihiv, a woman recently filed a criminal complaint against local authorities for what she says was the deliberate killing of her dog.

Storeowner Olena Stolyarova found the remains of her dog Liza in a pit used by the Municipal Motor Transport Department (KAPD) as a mass animal grave.

There are no animal shelters or dog catchers in Chernihiv, so the city administration has tasked the waste removal service with ridding the city of its stray dog population.

Stolyarova said that she found Liza’s remains in April, two days after the dog disappeared.

The head of Chernihiv’s city housing and communal services department, Vadym Antoshin, explained that a rabies epidemic among strays required quarantine measures and the resulting cull.

“In [Stolyarova’s] case the dog was found in a group of stray and sick dogs without a collar,” Antoshin said.

The photos seen by the Post clearly show the carcass of Stolyarova’s dog with a collar and tags around the neck.

An independent test conducted at a Kyiv laboratory of veterinary medicine several days after the dog’s death showed that Stolyarova’s dog was sterilized and died by lethal injection.

A KAPD employee told the Post they use dithylinum for lethal injections.

Dithylinum is prohibited by international standards for the humane treatment of animals because it is known to cause a slow and painful death. The poison was outlawed in Ukraine last year.

“The ground is full of carcasses. I know I can’t save Liza, but I want to stop this in the future, so I decided to take action,” Stolyarova said.

Police are currently examining the case to determine whether it constitutes a crime.

“I think criminal activity can be established,” said the first deputy head of Chernihiv’s Internal Affairs Administration, Ivan Katerynchuk. He also thinks Stolyarova’s initiative is positive.

“I personally know about a number of similar cases, but the owners of these pets have never gone to the police, and the crimes have remained unpunished,” Katerynchuk added.

Inna Bachurina, a member of a Chernihiv animal protection society also approved of Stolyarova’s activism.

“[KADP] violated international standards on the humane treatment of animals and the laws of Ukraine. KADP is first and foremost a garbage removal service. They are not professional dog catchers,” Bachurina said.

“The law requires for animals to be kept in a shelter for seven days. The animal can only be put to sleep only if it is not sterilized and the owner cannot be identified.”

About 2,000 dogs are caught in Chernihiv annually. According to Antoshin, the local budget allocates Hr 200,000 ($40,000) to finance dog catching for the year.

Bachurina said that this amount is more than enough to pay for the sterilization of the entire city’s stray dog population.

“According to our calculations Hr 100 ($20) is more than enough to sterilize one dog. There is enough money to purchase painless medicine to put a dog to sleep. It has become a sort of business for the city administration: they save money buying cheaper medicines. And of course it is easier and cheaper to kill a dog than to keep it in a shelter the city doesn’t even have,” Bachurina said.

National problem

Dog catching services throughout the country are accused of inhumanely killing the stray dogs rather than sterilizing them and putting them in shelters.

The head of the Kyiv-based animal defense society, SOS, Tamara Tarnavska said she receives dozens of letters from across the country every week about cases similar to Stolyarova’s.

“Most cities don’t even have animal shelters, let alone professional dog catching services. In most cases local communal service structures deal with the problem, but these people have no idea about how animals should be treated. I only know of a handful of shelters in Ukraine with the two in Hostomel and Bilohorodka and the one that SOS operates in Pirogovo (Kyiv suburbs),” she said.

A shelter in Odessa can be described as a relative success story. It was set up with support from Germany after a movie about the port city’s strays was shown at an animal rights conference in Brussels.

Odessa’s strays were rounded up and sterilized, and the practice of shooting dogs has become a thing of the past, Tarnavska said.

According to Tarnavska, about 16,000 dogs are killed annually in Kyiv alone, while across Ukraine the number of killed animals is probably in the millions, she said.

The state budget provides Hr 3.5 million ($700,000) for dealing with stray animals – more than enough to cover sterilization and shelter maintenance, Tarnavska said.

“I lived most of my life in Europe and what is going on in Ukraine simply does not fit any norms. No European country systematically kills its homeless animals – they should be sterilized according to international practice. To murder dogs is not only cruel and inhumane, but also ineffective: it won’t lead to the disappearance of stray dogs, but vice-versa, they will continue to breed. When animals are sterilized, their number gradually reduces and they disappear,” explained Tarnavska.

Problems with stray dogs are encountered in countries such as Sri Lanka, Cyprus, India and Greece and are mostly addressed by foreign initiatives.

“A similar tendency for international support started in Ukraine several years ago, while for the local administration it is just one more way to make money,” Tarnavska said.

Source: Kyiv Post


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