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Street dogs issue in Southeast Europe

by Denny Mon Feb 27th, 2006 at 06:37:12 PM EST

Thousands of homeless dogs are wandering around the streets of the biggest cities in most of the countries from Southeast Europe - Bulgaria, Romania, Macedonia, and others. People are afraid of them and consider them to be a threat, especially for the kids. The results of a survey conveyed on the territory of Bulgaria, concerning the significance of the problem of homeless dogs, show that 48% of the respondents agree it is a big problem, another 26.5% find it a small problem. Only 22.3% think it is not a problem at all.  

Almost every week the news present cases of people attacked by a pack of dogs. People hear about the dangers, go out on the street and see such homeless dogs. The sight of these dogs scares them. According to the same survey, more than 50% of the adults in the country think that dogs are "too many" or "many" in the neighborhood (51,4%) as well as in the settlement (57,3%). The ways of dealing with street dogs are many -some ignore them, others beat them, still others only complain and put the blame on the authorities and the legislation. Unfortunately, some of the laws are quite "liberal" when it comes to solving such problems. Bulgarian law , for example, legalizes killing dogs. Under article 71 paragraph 2, euthanasia of dogs is allowed in several cases: if they are ill, dangerous, or suffering terrible pain. But there is one more case and the story goes like this: If a homeless dog is found on the street, it should be picked up and put in an isolator. If nobody asks for that dog for the next two weeks, it should be put to euthanasia.

Recently, the Major of Sofia Boyko Borisov recognized the problem to be very important and probably crucial for the future EU membership of the country. As Mr. Borisov said : "There is only one right and European way of dealing with homeless dogs ─ castration centers and dogs' shelters." He envisioned that in the new law the article talking about killing dogs will be omitted. Now, although the law has been amended, the articles of the dog's euthanasia still hold. According to the Federation for the Welfare of Street Dogs , the so called "spay/neutering return programme" is the best way to deal with the problem. Thus, the already sterilized dogs would not allow for aliens to appear and spread diseases or attack citizens. But the idea has not been adopted yet by the local government. They still endorse the euthanasia methods.

Anyway, the idea of Borisov for castration, if put into use, is in consistence with the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals which considers castration to be indeed the best way to decrease the number of homeless animals. This is also the most humane way for handling the existing problem. Several international organizations are dealing with the issue in the region. The German organization "Artzte fur Tiere" ("Doctors for Animal Welfare") is especially focused on Bulgaria as a prospective member of the EU. The organization insists that a prerequisite for the admission of the country to the EU should be solving that specific problem.

So, I was wondering...what if they achieve their goal? Will Bulgaria manage that problem in such a short period of time? And, how is that issue solved in other, better-developed countries? How can we, animal lovers, help in that process?

In the US, dogs are treated much the same as in Bulgaria. Strays are taken to the public shelter, and if they're not adopted, they are put to sleep. On the other hand, we don't have packs of strays running around either. One thing we do have is a community of vets and others who run private shelters in which unwanted dogs are not euthanized. These shelters take care of these dogs for as long as they can. When one adopts a dog here in Buffalo, you are expected to contribute money to the shelter as a means to keep the enterprise running. Otherwise, you can adopt a dog for free at the public shelter.
by Upstate NY on Mon Feb 27th, 2006 at 08:10:46 PM EST
This practise seems to be useful in places where the problem is already managed to a certain extent or is actually not a problem. But I think here, in Bulgaria, this could only happen if all stray dogs are put to sleep at once. Then maybe their population will be stabilised. Unfortunately, this is quite impossible.
by Denny on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 09:57:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Same treatment here: strays are picked up and euthanised after a short period. There are charitable shelters that will hold them until a home is found but the government run shelters euthanise after two weeks.

Castration isn't sufficient anyway - you need to neuter the females. It only takes one entire male to father a population.

One of the scariest things I've even seen was a pack of dogs hunting a woman and her baby in a suburb of Mexico City, out near the museum. Definitely hunting, through the crowd, trotting, biding their time. She knew she was being hunted. She escaped into the metro, but still scary to watch.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 04:34:50 AM EST
It is really scary! I've never been afraid of dogs myself but when I see those packs of 6-7 dogs, sometimes I feel like walking a little faster...

But still, I find it too drastic and inhumane measure to euthanise dogs. And here, in Bulgaria, it proves not to be successful --new dogs come and take the place of the old ones.

by Denny on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 09:50:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is neutering a solution for dogs? I know it's recommended for cats because of the way their social structure works but is it really the solution for dogs?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 04:36:12 AM EST
It's the practice in Budapest. And there is a network of shelters which means there are almost no stray dogs.

Earlier, dog eithanasia - or worse, selling dogs for animal experiments - was 'normal'. Perhabs one reason this changed was a book written by a popular writer of animal stories, a dog epic, with dog collectors prominent among the evil guys.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 05:16:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was told by someone who has travelled around both Bulgaria and Romania that stray dogs are a really serious problem in Bucharest, capital of Romania.

I don't know how long it will take to solve the problem, but Major of Sofia Boyko Borisov's proposal seems rather sensible to me.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 05:53:51 AM EST
Yes, it seems sensible to me too! Let's just hope it will be implemented soon.

So far, Mr Borisov has done quite a lot for the welfare of the capital so...Go ahead, Boyko!

by Denny on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 10:01:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In America, I think the only laws we have are outlawing puppy mills, and that might be a state-by-state thing.  

However, Chicago and other cities are trying to become "no-kill" cities, which do not euthanize homeless animals, but invest in spay/nueter & release programs.  These have been effective in dramatically decreasing the number of strays.  Although I think we have a bigger problem with cats than dogs.  I've noticed the the adoption process has also become tougher at a lot of shelters so as to screen out people who are likely to abandon their pets.

Still, these are all initiatives of private shelters and animal activists.  They seem to be working, though.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 11:21:23 AM EST
I don't think we have a public shelter here, but we do have several private ones.  Dogs and cats (and trees) have strict protections in Tallahassee.  If someone hurts a cat, they're going to go to jail for a long time.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 02:31:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Same here.

Alhough you can't kick a kitty to death, Cook County Animal Control can euthanize one...

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. -Voltaire

by p------- on Tue Feb 28th, 2006 at 02:54:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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