Add Stray Dogs To List Of Dangers On Kiev’s Streets

KIEV, Ukraine -- Dog may be man’s best friend. But lately in Kyiv, more of them are becoming dangerous enemies. And some believe that municipal corruption and indifference are at the root of the capital city’s growing canine problem – charges denied by a key adviser to Kyiv Mayor Leonid Chernovetsky.

These are dogs from the private Yasnogorodka dog shelter, home to 500 dogs picked up from Kiev’s streets by volunteers. Kiev’s problem with stray and dangerous dogs is growing.

Packs of stray or uncontrolled dogs run loose throughout Kyiv, an estimated 30,000 in all, up from only 6,000 two years ago.

Many of the dogs are harmless as they sleep near metro entrances and look for their next meal. But others are angry, diseased and ready to attack. They are even ready to kill. On June 3, an unleashed German shepherd killed 8-year-old Dasha Lavrova in Solomyanskiy district of Kyiv. A year ago, the same dog bit a 12-year-old boy’s ear, seriously wounding him.

“Earlier there never was a situation like this in Kyiv,” said resident Tetiana Stetsenko. “I am afraid to go to the shop in the evening. Every time when I am bringing a bag with food from the shop, dogs follow me and every time I am afraid they will bite me.’

Animal protectors say that the Kyiv city administration allocated Hr 76 million to sterilize stray dogs or build them shelters, but that the program received only Hr 1.5 million.

“The money for solving the stray dogs problem was used for the 2008 Kyiv mayor election campaign,” said Asia Serpinska, owner of a private dog shelter and director of the non-governmental organization Kyiv Animal Protection Community.

Svitlana Berzina, an adviser to Chernovetsky who is charge of managing the municipal dog sterilizing program, denied the allegation of wrongdoing or that any public money was misspent.

“Taking money from the budget is impossible,” Berzina said. “Distribution of this money is controlled by a special organ, the Control and Revision Administration, which is independent from the Kyiv City Administration. If it discovers misuse of money, it punishes the guilty.”

Berzina said that Hr 76 million is the total cost for dog neutering program for 2008-2011. The Kyiv budget was only to allocate Hr 8 million each year, and did so in 2008. She could not explain the discrepancy between her own and Serpinska’s figures.

The rest of the money was supposed to come from charity donations and income of the municipal enterprises in charge of the program. Three municipal enterprises – Dog Shelter, a center for animal identification and a Kyiv municipal veterinary clinic – are in charge.

“All the animal protection organizations do is criticize the local government. But instead, they should more actively work to collect money for the program,” Berzina said. The mayoral adviser suggested that private veterinary and other pet-related services could be a good way to get extra cash for the municipal organizations.

Olha Drosdova, director of municipal enterprise Dog Shelter in Borodianka, 35 kilometers southwest of Kyiv, said the economic crisis – not corruption – is to blame for why large-scale sterilization has not taken place. “I think the sterilization program won’t be financed to the end of 2009,” Drosdova said. “We receive money only for staff salaries.”

According to the Kyiv City State Administration, only 2,500 dogs were sterilized last year. Since the start of the year, money ran out almost completely – except for staff salaries – and only 485 dogs have been sterilized.

Drosdova agrees that sterilization is a big part of the solution. “To solve the problem, no less than 80 percent of all stray dogs in the city should be sterilized,” she said.

Animal rights organizations would like to sterilize dogs at their own cost in private clinics, but at a cost of Hr 250 per dog, they don’t have the money.

Outside of Ukraine, rounding up stray dogs and euthanizing them if no homes are found is a common practice. “Unfortunately we don’t have regulations on this issue yet. The Environmental Ministry is now working on developing them,” Berzina said. Pet owners are obliged to register dogs at the Center for Animal Identification. But often they don’t, just as they ignore laws requiring leashes and muzzles and just as they ignore cleaning up after their pets.

Meanwhile, dog complaints against the city are rising – sometimes up to 50 a day – and the number of record dog bites hit 747 in the first quarter of 2009, well ahead of the pace in recent years.

A stray dog attacked resident Larysa Budash as she walked along the street eating a sandwich. “When I was going to bite off a sandwich, a dog trying to get a sandwich bit my chin, ” she said.

Animal rights activists fear that more radical measures are going to be used to control dogs, if the city doesn’t solve the problem. “I am afraid that if the sterilization program isn’t re-started soon more radical measures that abuse animal rights would have to be used for problem solution,” said Dina Hura, head of the animal protection organization Let Animals Live. She knows of several cases in which stray dogs have been deliberately poisoned.

On the other hand, “if the problem is left unsolved, the stray-dog population could increase up to 80,000,” Hura said.

Source: Kyiv Post


Buford Nature said…
Can you cite references for the stray dog population numbers you quoted (6,000 and 30,000). 500% is an astonishing 2-yr increase! Thank you.