Sofia street dog population is also down by half

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July/August 2007:
SOFIA–A 10-month municipal sterilization drive has cut the
street dog population of Sofia, the Bulgarian capital city, from
more than 20,000 to just over 11,000, mayor Boyko Borissov and
Bulgarian Academy of Sciences chair Ivan Yuhnovski told the Focus
news agency on July 12, 2007.
The Sofia municipal company Ekoravnovesie sterilized 3862
dogs and euthanized 852 due to illness, injury, or dangerous
temperament, said company director Miroslav Naidenov.
The number of dogs killed was approximately 10% of the totals
killed in 2003 and 2004, according to data sent to ANIMAL PEOPLE by
Sofia activist Alina Lilova in January 2005. “From 1999 though
2002, 45,000 dogs were killed,” Lilova added.
The rapidity of the street dog decline may reflect a marked
increase in traffic. While the human population of Bulgaria is among
the fastest falling in Europe, the population of Sofia has increased
since 2002 from 1.2 million to 1.4 million. Car ownership and use
have increased even faster.


A more sinister possibility may be that although the Sofia
pounds are no longer selling dog and cat fur, fur dealers are still
exploiting the street animal population.
“There is a massive industry based on the systematic killing
of dogs,” claimed Bulgarian SPCA president Yordanka Zrcheva in
December 2005. “There are dog fur factories all over Bulgaria, and
they produce all sorts of items, like fur coats, leather shoes and
bags made from dogs, and so on.”
Agreed Doctors for Animals spokesperson Rumi Becker, “The
so-called fur lords who run the factories are farming the dogs on the
street.”
About one million people among the Bulgarian human population
of about 7.4 million people keep unsterilized female cats and dogs,
Animal Programs Foundation founder Emil Kuzmanov told ANIMAL PEOPLE.
“Pet registration, dog and cat population control, and
supervision of human activity involving animals have been neglected
for nearly 20 years,” Kuzmanov said. “Most of Bulgaria is not served
by animal shelters.”
In 2006, Kuzmanov said, “Two different proposed Animal
Protection Acts were drafted. The essential part of both was
prohibition of killing healthy cats and dogs for population control.
Yet no adequate measures provided for curbing breeding.”
Animal Programs in January 2007 brought the perceived
deficiencies in the legislation to the attention of the European
Union’s Parliamentary Intergroup for Animal Welfare. The
Parliamentary Intergroup “sent six identical letters to all of the
Bulgarian institutions involved in improving and enforcing the law,”
Kuzmanov recounted. The letters recommended improvements which were
not made.
“In June 2007 the authors of the two bills combined them
into one, but still left in the shortcomings,” Kuzmanov said,
citing lack of differential licensing to discourage breeding,
insufficient accountability for dogcatchers, and lack of effective
penalties for noncompliance.

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