KYIV, Ukraine—Hosting the Euro 2012 European soccer championship put a spotlight on several problems in Ukraine—not the least of which was its stray dogs.
There is no official information on how many stray dogs there are in Kyiv, but before Euro 2012 different experts put the number at anywhere between 20,000 and 200,000 animals. Regardless of the actual number, stray dogs have been a longstanding issue in the Ukrainian capital and across the country.
There are just four shelters in Kyiv. Each holds around 1,500 animals, and each is at capacity.
For years municipalities had ignored the problem. Then in the months leading up to Euro 2012, they quickly tried to solve it—and did.
Today, there are considerably fewer dogs in the city, and in fact, the problem has nearly disappeared.
“The Ukrainian government and a number city municipalities, including Kyiv, are certainly moving in the right direction to resolve the problem,” says Jennie Rudd, campaign director for Naturewatch, a nonprofit, animal welfare organization.
The main issue is over how Kyiv solved the longstanding problem when for years it had failed.
“It is important to note that whatever the strategy, it must be a long-term project. There is no quick fix to any stray dog problem if it is to be resolved in a humane manner,” says Rudd.
In 2006, Ukraine adopted a law prohibiting killing stray animals. A program to control the number of stray dogs was then developed involving capturing, neutering, then re-releasing the strays.
Deputy director of the city’s Animal Identification Centre Svetlana Vasilyeva says under the program, around 11,000 stray animals have been sterilized since 2007.
The strategy, however, has flaws.
In 2009, for example, a pack of stray dogs mauled to death State National Television cameraman Ivan Voloshin. According to media reports at the time, Voloshin was attacked by around 40 dogs; some were wearing red collars—the mark for sterilized dogs.
Asia Serpinskaya, director of a stray animal shelter in one of Kyiv’s suburbs says the situation has suddenly changed a lot.
“There are only 2,000 stray dogs left in Kyiv,” said Serpinskaya. “There were at least 30,000 before the Euro 2012 had started.”
At the same time, she is not happy with what she’s heard about the methods.
“Municipal shelters for stray animals catch dogs on the street, keep them for several days, and then kill those dogs in [an] inhuman way. There are also people who don’t like dogs. They also killed and poisoned those dogs and are proud about that and put information about doing this on dog hunter websites. It is terrible,” says Serpinskaya.
“Dead dogs can’t say how they were treated and killed,” she says.
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