Ukrainian government agrees to a six-month moratorium on animal control killing

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  November/December 2011:


KYIV,  KHARKOV“Let us stop the deaths of poor stray dogs
for half a year and build shelters together,”  Ukrainian environment
minister Mykola Zlochevsky told media on November 17,  2011.
“This is a fantastic victory for Ukraine,  its citizens,  and
its animals,”  declared John Ruane,  director of the British
organization Naturewatch.  Ruane had for two years organized an
international campaign in support of Ukrainian animal advocates’
efforts to reform animal control.

“With just six months remaining before the Euro 2012 Football
Champion-ships,” Ruane said,  “Naturewatch has secured agreements
with top Ukrainian government officials to immediately address
cruelty to stray animals.

“For the past two years,”  Ruane said,  “Naturewatch has
exposed mass killings of stray animals” in Kiev,  Kharkov,  Donetsk,
and Lvov,  the four Ukrainian host cities of Euro 2012,   “allegedly
to clean the streets in preparation for the massive influx of foreign
football supporters.  To mark World Animal Day on October 4,  2011,
World Animal Day Ambassadors representing 62 nations, signed a joint
letter calling for an end to the barbaric killing.”  In response,
said Ruane,  “Zlochevsky on November 13 agreed to adopt amendments
to the Ukrainian legislation regarding the treatment of stray
animals,  and acted upon a further Naturewatch request for an
immediate moratorium on the killing of stray animals in each of the
Euro 2012 host cities.”

“It remained unclear how the ban would be enforced,”  noted
Associated Press.  “Ukraine has a large stray dog population,
numbering tens of thousands in big cities.  Building shelters to
house the animals would take months.”  Environment ministry
spokesperson Serhiy Syrovatka “said the government would adopt legal
and other changes to make the moratorium legally binding,  adding
that mayors who disobeyed would face punishment,”  Associated Press
continued.  “The ministry intended to help manage and finance
construction of shelters,  Syrovatka said,  while noting that Ukraine
is financially struggling.  Syrovatka added that dogs who cannot be
housed in shelters would be sterilized and released,  Associated
Press added.

“The minister’s comments appeared to suggest that the
six-month ban was a temporary measure aimed at quelling criticism
before Euro 2012,”  Associated Press noted.  ” It is unclear whether
the ban will remain in force beyond the championship.”

The announcement from Zlochevsky and Ruane came just as PETA
became involved.  “A few days ago our Centre in Kharkov was visited
by representatives of PETA Germany about the capture and killing of
homeless animals before Euro 2012,”  CETA-Life founder Igor Parfenov
told ANIMAL PEOPLE.  “We held a press conference with the director of
the housing department,  chief veterinary surgeon,  chief of
sanitation,”  and the agencies that handle animal control,”  Parfenov
said,  but the press conference recognized problems more than
offering solutions.

Kharkov animal control official Yulia Shapovalova
“acknowledged that 95% of the 550 dogs her facility handles each
month are killed,”  wrote Maria Danilova of Associated Press.
“Another city animal control contractor,  the Kharkov State
Veterinary Academy,  is accused of keeping dogs in cages so small
they can barely move,  with virtually no light coming in.  Captive
dogs are given little food and water,  and must urinate and defecate
in the cages,  said Yelena Ratnikova,  head of the Kharkov
Adopt-a-Pet Center.”

A new Kharkov city shelter is under construction,  Parfenov
told ANIMAL PEOPLE,   but he predicted that it would offer “only a
small number of dogs on display for visitors,”  while killing about
1,500 dogs per month.  Parfenov obtained animal control records
showing that Kharkov killed 11,623 dogs in 2001,  a ratio of 7.8 per
1,000 human residents.  This rose to 21,056 by 2004,  14.6 per 1,000
human residents,  but fell to 9,169,   6.1 per 1,000 human residents,
by 2010.  The 2011 killing pace through October projected a toll of
just over 6,100 for the year.

“Activists in Donetsk and Kharkiv say stray dogs are also
routinely killed by blowgun syringes loaded with dithylinum,  a
paralytic drug banned in Ukraine and the West for animal euthanasia,”
reported Danilova of Associated Press.

Lyudmila Novikova,  director of the Donetsk charity Animal
Protection,  alleged to Danilova that dogs are poisoned by a private
animal control firm called Grinkodon.  “Grinkodon spokesperson Serhiy
Ustimov denied the allegations,”  Danilova wrote.  City dog control
official Oleksandr Reingold told Danilova that his agency kills only
about half a dozen of the 20 dogs picked up each day.

But Ukrainian Association of Animal Protection Organizations
president Asya Serpinska “disputed those figures, saying records from
a Donetsk dog control facility, Animals in the City, showed some 50
dogs were killed there daily–98% of all the dogs handled.  Animals
in the City declined to comment or provide any figures on dog
control,”  Danilova reported.

“Taras Smurniy,  head of a municipal animal control
organization called Animal Shelter,  said Kiev does not kill dogs,”
continued Danilova.  “He said that all 300 dogs picked up over the
past three months were sterilized and released. That statement was
disputed by the Kyiv city administration,  which said that stray dogs
are euthanized when they are seriously ill,  as well as in
unspecified ‘other circumstances.'”  Responding to claims that Kiev
also poisons dogs,  “Kiev city administration head Oleksandr Popov
insisted authorities have never given orders to poison dogs,”
Danilova wrote.  But Danilova received a leaked invoice through SOS
Animals Ukraine founder Tamara Tarnavska,  which “indicates that Kiev
animal control officials last year purchased a large quantity of zinc
phosphate,  a poison that kills dogs by causing internal bleeding,”
Danilova said.

Officials in Lvov acknowledged that at least 70 dogs had been
poisoned there since April 2007,  but blamed private individuals.
“Roman Harmatiy, head of the city-funded animal control agency Lev
said that of the 100 dogs it handles every month,  half are
euthanized and the rest sterilized and released,”  Danilova reported.
“However,  city veterinary official Yuri Mahora questioned that,
saying Lev received no funding for sterilization this year.

Questions were also raised about how dogs are euthanized. According
to Harmatiy,  the facility uses injections of magnesium sulfate,
which causes cardiac and respiratory arrest through muscle paralysis.”
The American Veterinary Medical Association lists magnesium
sulfate as an unacceptable method of killing animals.

The most widely amplified allegation of cruelty to dogs in
preparation for the Euro 2012 football championship,  however,
carried on nearly 3,000 web sites,  came from the eastern Ukraine
city of Lysychansk,  which was never scheduled to host any Euro 2012
events.  Local activists alleged that Lysychansk animal control
agents were shooting dogs and cats in the streets and throwing them,
sometimes still alive,  into a mobile crematorium.

According to Kyiv Weekly,  Tamara Tarnovska on June 1, 2010
took photos of the mobile crematorium in use in Lysychansk and
Mariupol to United European Football Association president Martin
Cullen.  “The same day Ukraine’s Vice Premier Borys Kolesnykov,  who
is in charge of preparations for Euro 2012,  received a letter from
Martin Cullen, who in no uncertain terms distanced himself from the
shameful practice of the Mariupol and Lysychansk city authorities,”
Kyiv Weekly reported.

Kolesnykov apparently had a similar response.  As of
September 27,  2010,  said Kyiv Weekly,  “The mobile crematoriums for
dogs, which cost the cities a notable sum of money,  are no longer
combing the streets.”

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