Football World Cup is over! What will happen with the stray dogs?
Football World Cup is over! What will happen with the stray dogs?
The Football World Cup is over, the football fans are leaving and Russia is returning to everyday life. It was also an exciting time for Russia's stray dogs. The World Cup venues should make a good impression on the football fans, so many street dogs were captured and taken to detention centers. The grinzoo editorial team asked Dr. Körnig - the chairman of the International Animal Protection Association Grenzenlos e.V. based in Schwarmstedt / Lower Saxony in Germany what will happen with the stray dogs and how the animal welfare situation is currently in Russia.
grinzoo: Dear Dr. Körnig! How does the "International Animal Protection Association Grenzenlos" support Russian animals?
Dr. Körnig: The association has set itself the goal of improving the living conditions of animals - especially dogs, including cats - in other European countries. The fundamental credo of all measures is the help for self-help, the goal is a sustainable and permanent improvement of animal welfare. In Russia, the ITV Grenzenlos is active exclusively in the Kaliningrad region. Between 2015 and 2017 there were five castration campaigns in Gusev and the surrounding area and two in Kaliningrad. Another castration project is scheduled for August 2018. In July, a student from the Agricultural College in Gusev will come to Worpswede for a four-week internship in a German veterinary practice. The ITV Grenzenlos hopes to be able to improve the foundation for animal welfare in the Kaliningrad region.
grinzoo: How has the situation for stray dogs changed with the Football World Cup in Russia? And how is life as a (domestic) animal in Russia?
Dr. Körnig: We were very amazed and pleased about the empathy of the Russian people to their dogs. At least those who had their dogs castrated had a predominantly loving relationship with their pets. Whether the Russian street dog basically lives differently than the Turkish or the Romanian, I cannot judge. That depends on the local constellation. There are everywhere people who take care of stray animals and those who reject them and even kill them. Many dogs in the villages are chained up.
A significant role for our engagement in the Kaliningrad region was the commitment of politics and administration not to kill stray animals, not even during the football World Cup. The ITV Grenzenlos had an exchange with the governor of the Kaliningrad region in advance of his actions and concluded a written cooperation agreement with the city of Gusev and also spoke with the German Consul General. At a workshop in August 2017, Natalia Galjas, Chairwoman of the Organization "Right to Life", assured that no stray dogs will be killed in the Kaliningrad region. In addition, an amendment to the National Russian Animal Welfare law is in the works, which also excludes the killing of stray animals. The practice in some World Cup venues is very different. We will have to wait and see what happens after the World Cup.
grinzoo: According to media reports dogs were caught and had to endure the World Cup season in detention centers - what will happen with them?
Dr. Körnig: In the Kaliningrad region, no stray dogs continue to be killed. The situation regarding the animals castrated by the association "right to life", which now live in shelters or public accommodation is unclear. They would have to be brought back to their places of origin at the latest after the World Cup. On the other hand, there is some resistance from the population. We reminded the Governor of his promise in a letter, asking them not to kill and to stick to the line. We currently have no reliable information about the exact status of legislation in Russia - regional and national. We cannot say anything about the actions of other Russian World Cup cities against stray dogs.
grinzoo: On behalf of all animal friends a big thank you for your commitment. What special features mean that even animals with owners are castrated free of charge of your association?
Dr. Körnig: According to our experience and knowledge, especially from Romania, it is extremely important to castrate owned dogs to limit the dog population. Especially in rural areas such as Gusev, these dogs often live like street dogs, but are well cared for and nourished, and so far "more fertile" than street dogs. Frequently on the farms several stray dogs are fed but are neither chipped nor have a passport. One could discuss whether those are stray or owner dogs. We have castrated them for free, because we can reach so a large part of the owners and thus the animals. Moreover, many rural people in the Kaliningrad region have little money available, e.g. a monthly pension of 100 euros. A castration on the usual conditions costs about 70 - 80 euros. If there are more dogs, then it is financially impossible. However, since our actions are supposed to be a push for self-help, we have now proposed to the city administration in Gusev and the Agricultural College a model of castration in cooperation with these institutions and involving the local veterinarians (some of whom we have trained) could be continued on a regular and long-term basis. A smaller contribution to the cost of dog owners is then provided.
Things are different in the city of Kaliningrad: Here it was important for us to castrate as many dogs as possible before the World Cup. If this is to be continued, there must be cooperation between politics / administration and the association "right to life".
It should also be noted that we had asked for food donations instead of a cost contribution for our actions. And there a lot got collected.
grinzoo: How can the situation of stray dogs (or pets) in Russia be sustainably improved?
Dr. Körnig: In Russia as well as in some EU countries animal welfare must be recognized as a public task. It must come to the realization that animals are creatures with the right to life and that large-scale killing actions of stray dogs do not lead to the goal of a permanent limitation of the dog population. For the mediation of these connections also the foreign animal protection have to continue to contribute. Public money for animal welfare needs to be provided in Russia, e.g. for the establishment and operation of a functioning system of animal shelters. There should be established private animal welfare associations in Russia, which have to take over animal welfare tasks. That's pretty much unknown so far. There will be no short-term solutions in Russia as well as in Romania, Bulgaria or Turkey.
grinzoo: Dear Dr. Körnig! Many thanks for the interview and the rest of the team from the International Animal Protection Association Grenzenlos e.V. We wish you much success in promoting animal welfare in Russia. If you want to help, feel free to contact the association with a donation in kind or money!
Photos: Internationaler Tierschutzverein Grenzenlos e.V.
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