St. Petersburg G8 Summit meet brings war against street dogs
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2006:
ST. PETERSBURG–Tight security
precautions for the G8 Summit to be held in St.
Petersburg, Russia, July 15-17, include
“exterminating street animals with utmost
cruelty,” Baltic Care of Animals members Elena
Bobrova, Marina Ermakova, Svetlana Los, and
Tatiana Goritcheva alleged in a June 2 joint
statement relayed to western media by North Kent
Animal Welfare founder Mark Johnson, of Britain.
The BCA members’ joint statement echoed
and amplified exposés by St. Petersburg
journalists Yelena Andreyeva and Galina
Stolyarova, published on December 2, 2005 by
the St. Petersburg Times and on May 5, 2006 by
The extermination effort is administered
by the waste disposal firm SPETSTRANS, the BCA
members stated. “Spetstrans staff kill street
animals on the spot using dithylinum (succinyl
choline), a powerful curare type poison,” which
“paralyzes the respiratory system, so the animal
dies slowly and silently of asphyxiation,
experiencing great suffering and agony, which
may last up to an hour.”
Paralytic drugs are not listed by the
American Veterinary Medical Association’s 2003
Report on Euthanasia (the most recent edition) as
an acceptable method of killing animals. A
variety of references on killing laboratory
animals, published for the guidance of
laboratory technicians and Institutional Animal
Care & Use Committees in accordance with the U.S.
Animal Welfare Act, agree that succinyl choline
is acceptably used as a killing agent only if the
animal is already under deep general anesthesia.
“The corpses of animals are then taken to
the Municipal Veterinary Center at 2nd
Zhernovskaya Street,” said the BCA menbers.
“Here,” they alleged, “animals still alive will
be burned alive. Spetstrans employees are stingy
with their poison,” the BCA members charged,
“so they will not expend it on puppies, instead
cracking their heads open against a wall or
cutting their throats. They catch cats with
baited hooks, and then pull their entrails out.
The city’s animal rights activists have
photographs and eyewitness accounts to prove
this,” the BCA statement claimed.
The practice of catching small carnivores
with baited hooks is commonly used in “denning”
by USDA Wildlife Services trappers, in which the
object is to draw a hidden litter out of a hole
to ensure that all are killed.
“Animal rights activists in September
2005 finally convinced city hall to adopt a
policy on stray animals that replaces
extermination with sterilization, pounds, and
returning animals to their former habitats after
social adaptation,” the BCA members recounted.
“But the policy exists on paper only. According
to an action plan finalized on January 16, 2006,
extermination of homeless animals will continue
until mid-July,” after the G8 Summit.
“The city has earmarked 2,237,000 rubles,
approximately $83,000, more this year for animal
extermination, but not a penny will be available
for sterilization,” the BCA members charged.
“Although City Hall adopted a
sterilization plan for stray animals in September
2005, no funding has yet been allocated,”
“The last massive extermination
campaign,” the BCA members recalled, “was waged
in the run-up to St. Petersburg’s 300th
anniversary in 2003, when poisoned bait was
scattered in the neighborhoods where vagrant
animals had been spotted. At the moment,” the
BCA members noted, “there is an emergency rat
extermination campaign underway in St.
Petersburg, also killing many cats and dogs,
both strays and pets.”
Wrote Andreyeva, “According to Yury
Andreyev, St. Petersburg’s chief veterinary
surgeon, of a total of 250,000 dogs in the city,
10,000 are homeless. Others put the homeless
count as high as 20,000.”
BCA member Bobrova estimated that St.
Petersburg kills 4,000 to 6,000 dogs per year.
“By killing stray animals,” the BCA members
contend, “City Hall violates Article 245 of the
Penal Code, Articles 137, 230 and 231 of the
Civil Code, the Federal Fauna Act, and even the
municipal directive of January 15, 1998 Re:
Controlling and Keeping Homeless Animals in St.
The activists said they and others had
repeatedly cited the relevant laws in “appeals to
the President of Russia, the Governor of St.
Petersburg, and the Prosecutor General’s Office,
but all complaints and petitions always bounce
back to a lower authority, so all replies come
from the Veterinary Authority or the Improvement
Committee,” who are responsible for the killing.
Baltic Care of Animals provides free dog and cat
sterilization through several cooperating
veterinarians, “but then the exterminators come
and butcher animals who have already been
sterilized,” the four women said.
Bobrova told Andreyeva that BCA
veterinarian Yury Mikityuk “has sterilized 200
strays, and the organization itself has carried
out 100 sterilization operations every month for
the past three years,” but more than half of the
sterilized dogs were later killed by animal
“From July through September 2005,” the
four BCA members’ joint statement added, “a
non-governmental organization called the Society
for the Revival of Mercy collected upward of
20,000 petition signatures demanding that animal
control employees act in accordance with the law.
The authorities simply ignored the petition.”
The BCA members provided detailed
descriptions of massacres of sterilized,
vaccinated, and identification-tagged dogs
allegedly conducted by SPETSTRANS at Makarov
Naval Engineering Academy on February 11, 2006,
and a subway station on February 18, 2006. The
BCA members also furnished a copy of coverage of
the latter by the St. Petersburg newspaper Smena.
“In Russia there is no history of
legislation protecting animals,” summarized
Stolyarova. “A federal law passed by the State
Duma in 1999 was vetoed by ex-president Boris
Yeltsin on the grounds that the document ‘was
lacking a subject.’ The Moscow City Duma has
been debating the issue for three years without
any tangible results.
“Igor Rimmer, deputy head of the
Judicial Commission of the St. Petersburg
Legislative Assembly, has recommended studying
the western experience of special police task
forces dealing with crimes committed against
animals,” Stolyarova added. “According to
statistics collected by the Moscow-based Serbsky
Institute for Forensic Psychiatry, 85 percent of
prisoners serving terms for murders and other
severe crimes were reported as having tortured
“At present,” finished Stolyarova,
“there are no state-run shelters for lost or
stray animals in St. Petersburg. The several
small shelters funded by local charities are
unable to deal with the scale of the problem.”
“There is not a single animal pound in
St. Petersburg, a city of five million,”
affirmed the BCA members. “We have fear that a
pound City Hall has promised to open at Bolshoi
Smolensky Prospekt will operate as an
“The Veterinary Authority is
unapologetic,” the BC members alleged. “The
head, Yuri Andreev, “was quoted in the
Sankt-Peterburgskie Vedomosti newspaper on
February 15 as saying, “Veterinary medicine is
not for animals; it’s for people.”