Staunton, May 6 – Ten days from now, the Duma is set to pass legislation that the Putin regime supports that will allow regional governments to decide on their own how to deal with the problem of homeless dogs. If it passes as it is likely to, as many as 90 percent of Russia’s 4.7 million homeless dogs may be shot dead in the streets, animal rights activists say.
And that mass murder will not end the problem because more dogs will be released by their owners without having been chipped or sterilized. As a result, in only a few months, the number of homeless dogs will rise to what it is now or even higher and lead to a new slaughter (holod.media/2023/05/06/bezdomnye-sobaki/).
Activists are circulating a petition against the measure, and more than 120,000 people have signed it. But whether that will be enough to block a measure with Kremlin support seems unlikely.
The problem of homeless dogs in Russia is especially severe because there is no legal obligation to register pets, no penalties for releasing them into the streets, a large and unregulated breeders’ marketplace, and no obligatory sterilization. In fact, sterilization in Russia is widely believed to be expensive and harmful to dogs.
A few Russian regions, including Nizhny Novgorod and St. Petersburg have adopted the recommended program of capture, sterilization, vaccination and release and have seen the number of homeless animals fall dramatically. But elsewhere the problem remains large and so deputies are prepared to adopt radical and violent measures.
Only ten percent of all dogs on the street are either ill or violent, but the new measure will not make any distinction between them and all the others. And the number of pounds and animal refuges in Russia is too small to make much of a dent in the numbers of dogs on the streets of Russian cities.
What is needed, activists say, is a wholesale transformation of attitudes. If Russians treated dogs the way Germans do, for example, there wouldn’t be a problem; and there certainly wouldn’t be any call for executing innocent animals whose only “crime” is that people have treated them with no respect.