| Center for Animal Welfare Legal Protection |
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The Problem of Homeless Animals
– Economic Problem
2. Breach of the RF Constitution and federal legislation in the bill “On Keeping Domestic Animals in the City of Moscow”.
3. Our proposals regarding the modifications to be made in the draft law “On keeping domestic animals in the City iof Moscow ".
Appendix I. Program of Homeless Animals Sterilization, with Subsequent Release of Animals in their Former Habitats, Contradicting the RF Constitution and Federal Legislation.
Appendix II. Brief survey of world experience in the solution to the problem of homeless animals
Appendix III. Our proposals regarding the amending of the Bill “On Keeping Domestic Animals in the City of Moscow”.
Appendix IV. Article in the paper “Argumenty I Fakty” (‘Arguments and Facts’) “Where the Dog Money Has Gone” by Svetlana Kolchik
Appendix V. Comments and responses of organizations regarding the adverse impact of neglected animals.
Appendix VI. Russian and foreign published data on the adverse impact of neglected dogs on the wild fauna
Appendix VII. Collective letter by the dwellers of Moscow Central Administrative District to our organization proving that human rights of Moscow dwellers are infringed upon as a result of permanent habitation of neglected dogs on the territory of the city
these measures that made it possible to solve this problem in industrialized countries and led to the disappearance of homeless animals. Domestic animals, too, are governed by economic laws: they also have value in use. If the value in use of any commodity drops, it means the commodity is over-produced, when the supply of the commodity is higher than the demand for it, the unclaimed commodity is inevitably disposed of. Cats and dogs are living goods of a special kind, bred by man to meet his needs, but requiring humane handling. It is the new-born cats and dogs not being in demand as economic category that constitutes the main reason for being homeless and for cruel treatment.
Instead of seeking to stop the flow of animals flooding the streets through legislative measures in the area of economy (taxation of pet owners engaged in breeding and keeping non-sterilized animals, etc., see Appendix III), Moscow authorities chose to frame a “biological concept of disposing of“ unclaimed cats and dogs, whereby surplus animals become legitimate dwellers of the streets and virtually all of them are doomed to agonizing death: the period during which the state authorities protect the life of a neglected cat in Moscow streets ranges from a few days to several months, and of a neglected dog – 1-2 years (the state has decided that such “humaneness” to the animals will do, although their biological ñðîê is 15-20 years). It should be noted that such plight awaits not only animals in the streets, sterilized or not, but also those that were lucky to be accommodated at private or municipal animal shelters: because the shelters get filled to capacity quickly, the animals are kept in awful conditions there. There is no demand for animals leaving the shelters. Nobody carries out scheduled and controlled euthanasia of animals in the shelters. Instead, animals simply die of infections. Thus, animals shelters work for the disposal of animals! People who set up shelters for homeless animals (in their flats!), thereby hoping to solve the problem, also become doomed: there are thousands of such shelters in Moscow at present.
The process of reproduction-consumption of domestic animals turned out to be outside the mechanisms of legislative economic regulation, therefore, domestic animals as a category of goods legislatively be come “abandoned”. Legitimizing the outcasts of domestic animals (disposal in the streets) contradicts, above all, humaneness towards animals, specially homeless cats, most of which are literally exterminated by neglected dogs. The dogs, being predators alien to our natural ecosystem, are introduced in the habitat of wild fauna and destroy it.
The above concept is put into effect with the taxpayers’ budgetary money, the taxpayers in most cases being inconvenienced by neglected dogs: this transpires not only from the objective data of of Moscow Center of the Federal Oversight Agency for Sanitary-and-Epidemiological Situation – the growing number of people bitten by stray dogs, but also from the statistics of petitions forwarded by city-dwellers to prefectures, demanding to get rif of the dogs. It should be pointed out that more often than not facilities designed to withdraw the dogs are not made available to citizens. In our view, it is obvious that the introduction of the said concept is in conflict with the Constitution of the RF and with the federal legislation.
However, the demand for and supply of the goods are not aligned spontaneously. In all civilized countries, it is the state that must provide legislative measures aligning the supply of and demand for particular goods (suffice it to read the materials of UN General Assemblies and world meetings under the aegis of the UNO and resolutions of such meetings). In the case of cats and dogs, such measures have long been known and applied successfully. The fundamental measure is restriction of breeding of cats and dogs by their owners through differentiated taxation of keeping cats and dogs, which creates economic incentives for sterilization (castration) to be carried out by pet owners. If a person is engaged in purpose-oriented breeding, he should realize that it is much cheaper to keep a sterilized cat or dog.
"In most states of the U.S.A, there are animal birth-control laws. Under such laws, the dog owners must either sterilize their pets or acquire a special (paid) permit for keeping the dog as is, and a mating permit. The policy of issuing permits is actively supported by animal-welfare organizations as it is regarded as one of the main methods of preventing the arrival of stray dogs. (“Kommersant-Vlast” journal No 8, dated 28.02.2005)
Even in some CIS countries, e.g. in Kiev, the owner of a sterilized cat or dog pays only 50% of the pet tax.
* - in this document, the notions ”neglected” and “homeless” have the same meaning.
* contradicts the RF Constitution and federal legislation (see Appendix I);
* contradicts Program stated goals as it does not make it possible to control the numbers of homeless animals, nor is it humane towards homeless animals: neither to cats, nor to dogs (see Appendix I, clause 4);
* is in conflict with vital interests of citizens-Muscovites, since it suggests permanent presence of the ever-growing packs of stray dogs anywhere in the city, including places of work, amenities and recreation, education and upbringing the citizens, in the yards and streets, in areas intended for use by medical institutions and reserved for transportas, well as in the forest-park zone of the city, which, in most cases, infringes on the right of citizens to protection of their health life, to a healthy environment, and dooms wild animals, representing fauna of the pristine natural ecosystem in Moscow natural complexes, to total annihilation;
* inconveniences the citizens for budgetary funds, because to most taxpayers homeless animals, sterilized or not, cause discomforts of varying degree, yet the people are forced to pay for sterilization and return of homeless animals in the streets;
* contradicts foreign experience of dealing with the homeless animals problem in industrialized countries (U.S.A., Britain, Germany) with similar types of natural forest-park ecosystem and urban ecosystem, and with comparable indices of cat and dog numbers and rates of breeding (see Appendix II). Besides, public statements in media made by the authors and proponents of the Program about the alleged success in the West (in the UK, in particular) of TNR (trapping/neutering/release) programs, similar to the Moscow Program constitute a put-up job and flagrant falsification of facts. There are published data, indicating that in the West (e.g. in the UK and USA) TNR programs are carried out in respect of cats only, there being no data that in the said countries or other economically advanced states dog-targeted TNR programs, similar to the Moscow Program, are carried out. (As exemplified by environmental laws of the UK, all stray dogs in these countries are trapped and placed in animal shelters, where their subsequent destiny is determined, but the dogs are never released in their former habitats.) Thus, references to the western experience of carrying out cat-targeted TNR programs to validate and lobby the adoption of dog-targeted TNR programs constitute definitely an environmental fraud, since ecological consequences to the population and fauna in the case of cat-targeted TNR and dog-targeted TNR programs are simply incomparable and require absolutely different measures scale-wise to protect the population and fauna from possible harm. As far as dog-targeted TNR programs are concerned, there are no effective measures to protect the population or fauna (the most illustrative example is Moscow!); for this reason, dog-targeted TNR programs are not carried out anywhere in advanced countries at present. The hazard and damage to the population and fauna resulting from cat-targeted TNR programs are infinitely lower, and therefore are popular in industrialized countries, and even this safe version provokes part of the population to take an active anti-program stance (mainly, because cats are active exterminators of birds).
This Program was approved pursuant to Decree of the First Deputy Premier of Moscow Government No 403-RZP dated July 19, 2001 "On Additional Measures towards Organizing and Implementing the Work to Control the Numbers of Neglected Animals through Sterilization in Moscow” (Appendix 2 “Regulations for Trapping, Transportation, Sterilization, Keeping, Recording and Registration of Neglected and Stray Cats and Dogs in Moscow”) (hereinafter-Decree 403) and Moscow Government Decree No 819-PP dated October 1, 2002 “On Establishing a System for Management and Financing of a Package of Measures towards Improved Keeping , Use and Protection of Animals in the City of Moscow" (hereinafter – Decree 819).
The aforesaid Decrees are not superseded by the Bill (which becomes clear from article 25 of the Bill), but, on the contrary, they supplement the Bill by determining the “procedure of controlling the numbers and trapping of domestic animals", reference to which is made in article 6, clause r of the Bill.
Some data indicate that nearly one hundred million budget rubles was spent on preliminary studies towards the introduction of the Program, however, no reports of the results were obtained (see Appendix IV, article in “A&F”).
- finalize the Bill so it should provide for economic measures as basic mechanisms of effective reduction of the domestic animals birth-rate through differentiated taxation of cat and dog owners (see Appendix III);
- delete from the Bill everything relating to animal guardianship and animal guardians as contradicting federal legislation;
- introduce in the Bill (article 25) a clause, abrogating Decree of the First Deputy Prermier of Moscow Government No 403-RZP dated July 19, 2001 "On Additional Measures towards Organizing and Implementing the Work to Control the Numbers of Neglected Animals through Sterilization in Moscow” (including Appendix 2 “Regulations for Trapping, Transportation, Sterilization, Keeping, Recording and Registration of Neglected and Stray Cats and Dogs in Moscow”) and Moscow Government Decree No 819-PP dated October 1, 2002 “On Establishing a System for Management and Financing of a Package of Measures towards Improved Keeping , Use and Protection of Animals in the City of Moscow" for these documents do not comply with the RF Constitution, federal legislation and are in conflict with their stated goals (see Appendix I).
"Moscow Red Data Book", published in 2001 and covering 6 rare species of animals and birds (hedge-hog, ermine, weasel, lepus, brown hare, woodcock) “chasing by stray dogs” is unequivocally given as one of the constraints, leading to declining numbers of these animals, and in respect of 4 species of them “solution of the homeless animals problem” was spelled out as measures to forestall total annihilation of the said species on the territory of Moscow. It follows from the memorandum of the authors of “Moscow Red Data Book” submitted to the Moscow Government Department of Nature Management and Environmental Protection in January of 2005 and from the protocol of the meeting held at the office of Moscow Minister (head of the said department) Mr. L.A. Bochin “On the subject of maintaining “Moscow Red Data Book” dated 26.01.2005, as well as from the letter addressed to our organization from the Moscow Red Data Book Commission (dated August 18, 2005), it follows, that virtually all mammals and land-nesting birds of Moscow natural complexes, including those entered in Moscow Red Data Book, have come under a most severe extermination-and-marauding pressure of stray dogs. This situation is fraught with the disappearance of many representatives of the wildlife of our pristine natural landscape ecosystem. The position of wild animals keeps deteriorating because the numbers of stray dogs are growing and their aggressiveness towards wild animals increases at a galloping rate. That wild animals are annihilated in Moscow natural complexes is also attested to by testimonials of nature-conservation and ecological organizations made available to us (see Appendix V) and by published russian and foreign data on the adverse impact of stray dogs on the wild fauna (see Appendix VI).
This information enables one to conclude that decisions to go ahead with the Program violate:
(à) RF Law “On Wildlife”, where article 24 makes provisions for the following: “Actions that may result in death, reduction of numbers or disturbance of habitats of wildlife species entered in Red Data Books are inadmissible.";
(b) RF Law “On Environmental Protection”, whose article 3 reads: "Economic or other activity of the RF public authorities, of public authorities of the RF entities, having an impact on the environment, must be carries out on the basis of the following principles: ... priority of conserving natural ecosystems, natural landscapes and natural complexes; conservation of biodiversity, banning economic and other activity the impact of which on the environment is unpredictable as well as banning projects that are likely to result in degradation of natural ecosystems, modification and (or) destruction of the gene pool of plants, animals and other organisms, depletion of natural resources and other adverse changes in environment ", and in article 60 the following is pointed out: "1. To protect and keep of rare and endangered plants, animals and other organisms the Red Data Book of the RF and Red Data Books of the RF entities shall be established. It is prohibited to engage in an activity, leading to reduction of the numbers of such plants, animals and other organisms, and aggravating their habitats."
(c) Edict of the RF President “On the Main Provisions of Regional Policy in the RF” No 803 dated June 3, 1996, where clause 4.4 reads "In the sphere of securing ecological safety and environmental protection against the backdrop of promoting market relations on the federal and regional levels, the principal areas of regional policy shall be: environmentally-safe development of industry, agriculture, energy, transport and public utilities; rational use of natural resources, making provisions for natural development of ecosystems, conservation and rehabilitation of unique natural complexes, improvement of management in the fields of environmental protection and nature management ".
*(2) Article 42 of the RF Constitution reads: "Anybody is entitled to an auspicious environment ...".
In the RF Law “On Environmental Protection” in article 3 among the basic principles of environmental protection, provisions are made for “honoring the right of an individual to an auspicious environment; provision of favorable conditions for human vital activity; protection, reproduction and rational use of natural resources as necessary conditions for ensuring an auspicious environment and ecological safety, responsibility of public authorities of the RF and RF entities for ensuring an auspicious environment and ecological safety in the appropriate territories ".
According to article 1 of the RF Law “On Environmental Protection": “auspicious environment is an environment, whose quality provides for sustainable functioning of natural ecosystems natural and natural-anthropogenic features".
In the same article the following definitions are given: “natural environment is an aggregate of the components of natural environment, of natural and natural-anthropogenic features”; "Components of natural environment- … wildlife, …”; “natural feature – natural ecosystem, natural landscape and component parts thereof, retaining their natural relations”; “natural ecosystem is an objectively existing part of natural environment that has spatial-territorial boundaries ...".
In article 1 of the RF Law “On Wildlife” provides this definition: "biodiversity of wildlife is diversity of wildlife objects within the framework of a single species, between species and in ecosystems ".
The aforesaid definitions enable us to conclude that in case of extermination (total or partial) of the species of wild animals representatives of wildlife of a natural ecosystem, al the more so those entered in the Red Data Book of an RF entity, the quality of environment apparently does not ensure a sustainable functioning of natural ecosystems and natural features as there occurs degradation of their integral component, i.e. wildlife, by virtue of loss of its biodiversity. Consequently, the rights of citizens to an auspicious environment as provided for by article 42 of the RF Constitution are infringed upon.
*(3) Article 41 of the RF Constitution reads: “Any person is entitled to health protection...".
Article 17 of the RF Law “Fundamentals of RF health protection legislation” states: "Citizens of the RF have an indefeasible right to health protection. This right is ensured by environmental protection, provision of auspicious working and living conditions, facilities for recreation, youth upbringing and training ...".
In clauses 1 and 2 above, it was demonstrated that as a result of implementing the Program in Moscow there occurs degradation of natural environment as totality of Moscow natural complexes due to the loss of wildlife biodiversity – an integral component of that environment. Consequently, because of Program implementation provisions cannot be made for proper protection of natural environment, which infringes upon the rights of citizens to health protection stipulated in article 41 of the RF Constitution and in article 17 of the RF Law “Fundamentals of RF health protection legislation”.
Article 2 of the RF Law “Fundamentals of RF health protection legislation” states that the "basic principles of health protection are: (1) observance of citizens’ rights in the area of health protection and provision of state guarantees associated with these rights; (2) priority of preventive measures in the field of health protection; ... (5) liability of public authorities, enterprises and organizations for ensuring such rights.”
At the same time, the data of the Moscow Center of Federal Sanitary Supervision & Disease Control (for 1991-2003, 2004-2005 years) indicate there has been a direct relationship over the last few years between the growing numbers of neglected dogs noted since Program commencement and the number of individuals bitten by such animals. Besides, there are data of numerous petitions addressed by citizens to the prefectures of Moscow administrative districts, demanding the removal of the packs of stray dogs from the yards, places of recreation, compounds of children’s and educational institutions, , in areas intended for use by medical institutions and reserved for transportas, because such animals inconvenience people in a variety of. Reference to the large number of such petitions is made in the letter of the Moscow Center of Federal Sanitary Supervision & Disease Control addressed to Moscow Mayor Yu.M.Luzhkov dated 27.05.04 In particular, Moscow chief medical sanitation officer N.N. Filatov says in this letter:
"The main reason for the growing number of neglected animals has been practical application of “Regulations for Trapping, Transportation, Sterilization, Keeping, Recording and Registration of Neglected and Stray Cats and Dogs in Moscow”, approved by decree of the First Deputy Premier of Moscow Government No 403-RZP dated 19.07.2001 ãîäà ¹ 403-ÐÇÏ "On Additional Measures towards Organizing and Implementing the Work to Control the Numbers of Neglected Animals through Sterilization in Moscow”.
Giving effect to the “Regulations for Trapping, Transportation, Sterilization, Keeping, Recording and Registration of Neglected and Stray Cats and Dogs in Moscow” has resulted in a paradoxical situation, where trapped and sterilized animals are returned to their former habitats.
Pursuant to the said “Regulations...", as from the year 2001, the priority method of controlling the numbers of neglected animals in Moscow has been the trapping and sterilization of female individuals and putting them back to their former habitat. ... Analysis of the data on the people that suffered from animal bites indicates that the application of the said method of controlling the numbers of animals has compounded the situation in the city and has led to more people being bitten by neglected animals.
In view of the inauspicious epidemic and epizootic situation, the high rate of people bitten by animals, the numerous complaints of the population about unsatisfactory animal keeping practices and control of animal numbers in the city, it is imperative that:
- The policy of controlling the numbers of neglected animals be reconsidered..."
The aforesaid data indicate that implementation of the Program obviously runs afoul of the principle of priority and preventive measures in the field of human health protection, stated in article 2 of the RF Law “Fundamentals of RF health protection legislation”.
Hence, we are faced with an infringement of people’s rights to health protection stipulated by federal legislation.
*(4) Clause 1, article 7 of the RF Law “On Protection of Consumers’ Rights” states:
"1. A consumer is entitled to have goods (job, service) safe to his life, health, environment, without causing harm to consumer’s property ".
Consumers of the budget-financed city Program shall be citizens-Muscovites, the work (service) being all work items performed within the framework of the Program, its end living product being neglected dogs inhabiting city streets unattended.
It is also obvious that it is impossible to guarantee that the said neglected dogs will be safe to human life and health, environment, part of which is wildlife and its representatives – wild animals. It is equally impossible to guarantee that no harm will be caused to the property of individuals, including pets that have the owner. Consequently, in all aforesaid cases, the rights of citizens-consumers are infringed upon.
Clause 2, article 4 of the RF Law “On Protection of Consumers’ Rights” reads: "In the absence of formulated terms relating to quality of the goods (work, service) in the text of the contract, the seller (contractor) shall hand over the goods (perform work, render a service), suiting the purposes for which the said goods (work, service) are intended."
From Decree 403 ("3.1 The purpose of castration (sterilization) is to curb the growing numbers of neglected and stray animals as well to improve the epizootic and epidemic situation in the city through mass vaccination and dehelminthization of animals; 3.2 Castration (sterilization) is the most humane method of reducing the numbers of neglected and stray animals"), and from Decree 819 (“The purpose of castration (sterilization) is to reduce the numbers of ownerless animals as well as to improve the epizootic and epidemic situation in the city through mass vaccination and dehelminthization of animals.") it follows that the primary goal of the Program is “to curb the growing numbers" or “to reduce the numbers" of neglected animals.
However, it is common knowledge to both the Russian and foreign zoologists that the sterilization method is likely to curb the size of the animal population only in case no less than 80% of all multiplying females are sterilized during a short period of time, including those that have owners. The posterity of the latter females may, with a high degree of probability, be regarded as street inhabitants. Failing this condition, sterilization is incapable of curbing the numbers of neglected animals, because, according to the laws of population ecology, magnitude of the population is self-restorable. A confirmation of this may be found, for example in the paper by S.A. Dudnikov “Cats and Dogs: a View from the Standpoint of Epizootology”, in which paper it is stated that “only in case the population is reduced by 80% and more in a matter of a year, is self-restorability for next year lost" (Report theses, S.A. Dudnikov All-Russian Scientific Research Animal Protection Institute, Vladimir, Russia; placed in Collected works of the theoretical and applied research conference “Animals in the City”, published jointly by Severtsov Institute of Animal Ecology and Evolution, RAS, and Moscow Timiryazev Agricultural Academy). At the same time, the number of females capable of multiplying should include not only neglected females, but pet females giving birth to litter at their master’s, such litter also eventually inhabiting the city streets. This is also portrayed in the data of foreign researchers. None of the aforesaid Government decrees spells out the need for sterilizing up to 80% per annum of the existing number of multiplying dogs. It follows from this that the Program of sterilization currently implemented within the framework of the aforesaid Government decrees is fundamentally incapable of attaining the principal goal of all goals formulated in the Program: to curb the number of neglected dogs, which is confirmed by the experience of implementing the Program in Moscow: the official estimates today produce a figure of around 100,000 neglected dogs, although in 1997 there were 20-25,000 individuals ("Recording the number of homeless dogs in Moscow ", A.D. Poyarkov, et al., Severtsov Institute of Animal Ecology and Evolution, RAS, MSU Department of Biology, GIS Laboratory of Goszemcadasts’emka Institute, “Sirin” Fund, Moscow).
From Decree 403 ("1.5 Neglected and stray animals are an integral part of the urban ecological environment and are protected by public authorities of Moscow; 1.6 The fundamental principle of treatment of animals is the attitude to them as conscious and alive creatures, capable of experiencing fear and pain; 1.7 Regulation of the number of neglected and stray animals (cats and dogs) should be based on biological regularities and social-and-moral aspects, and meet the requirements of humaneness and up-to-date technologies, ruling out the murdering and cruel treatment of animals; 1.8 The main recognized method of regulating the number of neglected and stray animals is castration (sterilization) of females with subsequent return to their former habitat;"), the neglected animals "being under the protection of Moscow public authorities".
However, according to the data of our organization, based on letters and statements of individuals taking care of neglected cats, on results of recent survey of homeless cats in Moscow conducted by VTSIOM, and also on observations and investigations of experts of our organization published in "VETERINARY PATHOLOGY” journal No 2(17), in 2003-2004, the number of neglected cats in Moscow declined sharply, because neglected cats, just like wild animals in the forest-park zone, have come under a most severe voracious pressure of neglected dogs (extermination of neglected cats by stray dogs is noted in the statements coming from individuals (see Collective petition from the dwellers of Moscow Central Administrative District and others letters), as well as from Russian scientists, e.g. in the papers “Ecological Types of Stray Dogs” by A.D. Poyarkov et al., Severtsov Institute of Problem of Ecology and Evolution, RAS, Moscow, and “Hares in the City” by A.V. Berezin, Omsk State Teacher-Training University, Omsk, Russia, and in materials of foreign researchers: according to the Journal "Animal People", Merritt Clifton, 2001 and "Feral Dogs", Jeffrey S. Green, Philip S. Gipson, 1994). Part of neglected cats died because they were deprived of access to the only place where they could find shelter from frosts and dogs - basements of apartment houses - or were walled up, once in the basements, and were then unable to get out: pursuant to Decree of the RF State Committee for construction and housing-utilities complex No 170 dated 27.09.2003, that approved “Codes and Regulations for the Maintenance of Available Housing”, where clause "3.4 Maintenance of basements and technical cellars” and sub-clause 3.4.1 say that "An organization liable for the maintenance of available housing is to provide for protection of areas against penetration therein of animals, namely: rodents, cats and dogs"; for this reason, the housing-communal and security services have blocked the basements of apartment house, barring access for cats from the streets by walling up air holes and ventiducts from the basements outside. According to our data, homeless cats are exterminated on a regular basis by other means, more often than not by poisoning, especially on the territory of enterprises, medical institutions, etc. Virtually, there was no sterilization carried out under the Program. It follows from this that:
- the Program for neglected cats does not meet the "requirements of humaneness and up-to-date technologies, riling out the murdering and cruel treatment of animals ";
- neglected cats, as far as the Program is concerned, are not “protected by Moscow public authorities, at all” (neglected cats are even deprived of the right to stay in basements – the only warm shelters in the city, where the cats can survive in winter and hide from the dogs);
- therefore in the case of neglected cats, sterilization is not “the main metod of regulating their numbers” during Program implementation.
From Decree 819 ("2.1 Organizations, regardless of the form of ownership, shall not be allowed to control on their own the number of animals inhabiting its territory or dwelling beside its territory; 2.2 The contractor shall not be entitled to accept applications from the dwellers or organizations direct.") and on the strength of the four years of Program implementation in Moscow (according to numerous statements of individuals) it follows that the Program fails to meet the up-to-date requirements of convenience to the consumer as it does not enable the citizens (or organizations) to take advantage of the Program and regulate the numbers of neglected dogs without delay, withdrawing the dogs from the environment, e.g. demanding the removal of the packs of stray dogs from the yards, places of recreation, compounds of medical institutions, children’s and educational institutions, whenever the dogs cause inconveniences of varying degree (except aggressive and sick dogs, although it is very difficult to prove the fact of aggression in practice!). Besides, there are ruling documents, from which it follows unambiguously that executing a request to trap even aggressive dogs that bit dozens of humans depends on whether or not there exists an animal shelter in the administrative district, where that aggressive dog is, and on the availability of vacancies for dogs, which is equivalent to the dependence of citizens’ constitutional rights on the place of residence (in contravention of Art. 19, Part2 of the RF Constitution and of Art. 17, Part 2 of the RF Law “Fundamentals of RF Legislation on Protection of Citizens’ health”). However, the applications of individuals and organizations, requesting to remove the dogs are countered by the Program, in which provisions are made for trapping, sterilization and return of sterilized neglected dogs, which in most cases violates the rights of individuals to health protection and auspicious environment. In the absence of appropriate services, individuals and organizations are faced with a stalemate situation and are forced to exercise and defend their constitutional rights on their own by responding adequately to the objectively existing cause of inconveniences i.e. the neglected dogs and solving the problem by various methods, far from humane, sometimes with signs of cruel treatment of the animals. Hence, the inadequacy of the Program to consumers’ requirements gives rise to an objective reason for cruel treatment of the animals that are really a nuisance to individuals. Besides, because the market has been monopolized by the State Unitary Enterprise “Wild Animals Trapping Service” and there is no healthy competition in this sphere, even within the framework of the Program, quite a few neglected dogs are treated with cruelty and die in the course of trapping, in the course of or after sterilization and providing a temporary shelter. This indicates that adoption of the Program has failed to extend the neglected dogs’ lives, nor has it resulted in humane treatment of the dogs.
It follows from the foregoing that the Program is in conflict with its proclaimed goals. It is also indicative of citizens-consumers’ rights being infringed upon.
Clause 1, article 10 of the RF Law “On Protection of Consumers’ Rights" reads: "It is the duty of the manufacturer (contractor, seller) to provide to the consumer true information on the goods (works, services), enabling the consumer to make the right choice..."
Therefore, the citizens-consumers are entitled to crucial information on the activities performed under the Program, in particular:
- information essential to people’s own security: daily operational information on the number of packs of neglected dogs, on the degree of danger they present (probability of being attacked by dogs) and on the number of persons bitten by dogs, with a breakdown by Moscow districts and making it available to the citizens (which is a necessary condition of exercising by citizens their rights to protection of life, health and to an auspicious environment, as stipulated by the RF Constitution (article 42) and the RF Law “Fundamentals of RF health protection legislation” (articles 17 and 19);
- information on humane attitude toward neglected dogs (cats): on the average guaranteed life-span on Moscow streets of an average statistical neglected dog (cat) and on the number neglected dogs (cats) dying for various reasons in Moscow streets;
- information on environmental protection against neglected dogs and other animals: on the number of animals species (including neglected cats) being exterminated by neglected dogs on the territory of Moscow and on the rate and dynamics of such extermination;
- information on effectiveness of the Program: on the rate of reducing the numbers of neglected dogs in Moscow guaranteed by the Program (e.g. it is guaranteed that “in a year the number of neglected dogs will be halved”, etc.)
This information must be made available to the consumer to be able to make “the right choice” of a most effective program in case there should evolve alternative programs. At present, the unavailability of the aforesaid information about the Program makes it a no-alternative exclusive option as there are no parameters with which to compare effectiveness of various similar programs.
*(5) Aricle 41 Part 3 of the RF Constitution reads: "The hiding by officials of facts and circumstances, threatening the life and health entails responsibility under the federal legislation".
Article 237 of the RF Criminal Code stipulates responsibility for hiding information about circumstances threatening people’s life or health.
"The hiding of information is failure to make it available to persons entitled to have it or in need of having such information, when communication of information was mandatory from a legal standpoint or was necessary for controlling events, facts or phenomena threatening the life or health of the people or the environment.
Distortion of information is communication of incomplete or untrue data, official forecasts and estimates with regard to facts, events or phenomena endangering the objects under protection." (clauses 5 and 6 of the comment to article 237 from the book "Comment to the RF Criminal Code" ed. by V.M. Lebedev and Yu.I. Skuratov, Norma, Moscow, 2002)
In our opinion, the hiding and/or distortion of information, resulting in harm caused to human health (this is indicated by the statistics of the Moscow Center of Gossanepuidnadzor on the number of humans bitten by stray dogs as well as by the fatal case that occurred through the fault of stray dogs on January 14 in Signalnyi Proezd of Moscow) and the environment (data on extermination of wild fauna, including the Moscow Red Data Book species protected by law in Moscow natural complexes) has been failure to communicate to the persons authorized to approve the aforesaid Decrees of Moscow Government, on the strength of which the Program began to be implemented in Moscow, the true and unbiased information about the adverse aspects of Program adoption in Moscow and/or communicate incomplete or untrue data, official forecasts and estimates, among these:
- that the Program does not meet its proclaimed goals, because:
(à) it makes it impossible to curb (reduce) the numbers of neglected animals (dogs and cats), since it makes no provisions for sterilization of 80% of all multiplying female cats and dogs (including the owners’ and those neglected), whose posterity is doomed to inhabit city streets;
(b) it contradicts the principles of animal protection as it not humane toward neglected cats or neglected dogs, since both die in the streets in numbers (neglected cats are exterminated by dogs or die for other reasons, more often than not because they have no access to the basements of apartment houses: federal legislation forbids cats to stay in the basements, whereas the dogs are treated with cruelty, because they inconvenience the citizens, and the citizens, because the authorities fail to take action, are forced to annihilate dogs in a bid to exercise their right to health protection and to an auspicious environment, i.e. unconfined habitation of neglected dogs becomes an objective reason for cruel treatment of the dogs);
- that neglected dogs are dangerous to people’s health and life as well as to the wild fauna of Moscow natural complexes;
- that the Program currently under way dies not permit withdrawal from the environment and reduction of neglected dog numbers in response to people’s requests since the Program provides for permanent habitation of neglected dogs in the yards and in the streets, at places of work, recreation and youngsters’ upbringing, which violates the citizens’ right to life and health protection and to an auspicious environment, stipulated by the RF Constitution and federal legislation;
- that in the Program (clauses 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4 of Decree 403 (of the "Regulation...") there are lines: "and return under the quardianship of local dwellers and organizations") meaning that non-substantiated unpaid labor load toward the “guardianship” over somebody else’s (municipal, city, federal) property, i.e. neglected dogs and cats is shifted on citizens, and is to be financed from personal money of such citizens, without those citizens being asked to agree and carry out such work and without detailing the rights and duties of such ”guardianship”, (including the adverse impact on social development of the city, being the cause of impoverishment of numerous women-pensioners, who are forced to turn their flats into home shelters for neglected cats and dogs, affects the ecology of housing, leads to social conflicts, etc.);
In our view, responsibility for hiding and/or distortion of information rests with those organizations and persons who were drafting Decrees 403 and 819 of Moscow Government, and, among other things, were responsible for scientific motivation of Program adoption. We feel that preliminary investigations and experiments carried out for the budget money of the non-profit institution “Charity Fund for Animal Aid SIRIN” as part of the city program “animals in the City” (according to information taken from the article by Svetlana Kolchik “Where has the Dog Money Gone?” published in the paper “Argumenty i Fakty” No 2 for 1998, see Appendix IV), which were taken as scientific basis for Program adoption in Moscow, had to do with matters pertaining to various properties of the neglected dogs sub-population (this becomes clear freom the subject-matter of the aforesaid paper “Records of Neglected Moscow Dogs”, in which the “SIURIN” Fund took part). However, unexplored remained a whole range of key issues, among them appraisal of the adverse impact of Program adoption on human health, environment (including extermination of neglected cats by neglected dogs), on biodiversity of natural complexes and on social development. As a result, it was impossible to establish numerous contradictions of the Program in respect of the RF Constitution and federal legislation. Besides, it was crucial to take into account that Moscow natural complexes are of an isolated (island) nature, and this entails a special responsibility for introduction of large numbers of neglected dogs – alien predators to fauna representatives of a pristine natural landscape ecosystem. Why, on the one hand, wild animal, chased by neglected dogs, are unable to flee outside Moscow (Moscow Ring Road is an insurmountable obstacle to wild animals); on the other hand, as we know from ecology, the above types of natural ecosystems, once degraded, are not restorable ("an ecosystem that lost part of its components, cannot regain its original state", Yu.V.Novikov, Ecology, Environment and Man, FAIR-PRESS, Moscow, 2003), which compounds inflicted, virtually irreversible damage.
It is also important that the Program runs afoul of the world practice of dealing with the homeless cats and dogs problem in the most industrialized countries, such as the U.S.A., Britain and Germany, because:
(à) it totally ignores the introduction of economic measures aimed at curbing the breeding and preventing overproduction of cats and dogs that belong to owners (purchasing a patent for keeping non-sterilized animals, purchasing a mating license, taxation, etc), which constitutes a general policy in solving the homeless animals problem and a most effective mechanism of preventing further growth of animal numbers in these countries;
(b) it ignores the fact that the principal budget (i.e. taxpayer)-financed method of dealing with homeless animals virtually worldwide has been withdrawal of animals from the streets and accommodating them in animal shelters, whereas additional (optional) humanitarian programs to sterilize homeless animals and put them back in the streets, paid from the donations of animal-welfare organizations do take place in some countries and regions, yet these are implemented strictly taking into account [peculiarities of the local fauna and nature of the urban ecosystem (e.g. in the UK and in the United States, such programs are arranged for homeless cats only, in India – for wild pariah dogs, etc.) so that animals returned after sterilization could cause no harm to humans or other animals. Besides, public statements in media made by the authors and proponents of the Program about the alleged success in the West (in the UK, in particular) of TNR (trapping/neutering/release) programs, similar to the Moscow Program constitute a put-up job and flagrant falsification of facts. There are published data, indicating that in the West (e.g. in the UK and USA) TNR programs are carried out in respect of cats only, there being no data that in the said countries or other economically advanced states dog-targeted TNR programs, similar to the Moscow Program, are carried out. (As exemplified by environmental laws of the UK, all stray dogs in these countries are trapped and placed in animal shelters, where their subsequent destiny is determined, but the dogs are never released in their former habitats.) Thus, references to the western experience of carrying out cat-targeted TNR programs to validate and lobby the adoption of dog-targeted TNR programs constitute definitely an environmental fraud, since ecological consequences to the population and fauna in the case of cat-targeted TNR and dog-targeted TNR programs are simply incomparable and require absolutely different measures scale-wise to protect the population and fauna from possible harm. As far as dog-targeted TNR programs are concerned, there are no effective measures to protect the population or fauna (the most illustrative example is Moscow!); for this reason, dog-targeted TNR programs are not carried out anywhere in advanced countries at present. The hazard and damage to the population and fauna resulting from cat-targeted TNR programs are infinitely lower, and therefore are popular in industrialized countries, and even this safe version provokes part of the population to take an active anti-program stance (mainly, because cats are active exterminators of birds);
(c) despite the high death-rate of homeless cats and dogs, especially cats, living in the streets, the Program finds it humane for homeless cats and dogs to inhabit the streets of a megapolis. This contravenes international documents, in particular, the “European Convention on Pet Animals” adopted by the Council of Europe in 1987 and “Universal Declaration for the Welfare of Animals” proclaimed by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) as a standard for all nations and peoples, where, in particular, there are the following lines: “Veterinary surgeons and other skilled specialists must be able to kill humanely pets (abandoned by owners) that cannot be handed over to a different owner or in case it is impossible to provide proper living conditions or care for the pets". In these documents, it is recognized that a more humane approach is to apply skilled euthanasia to unclaimed cats and dogs rather than leave the animals in the streets as homeless creatures and doom them to a high risk of cruel death.
In our opinion, hiding or distorting true information about the actual state of affairs in implementing the Program has made it possible to approve the Program in Moscow and finance it from the budgetary funds, which creates prerequisites for unlawful acts that may be characterized in terms of article 292 "Ñëóæåáíûé ïîäëîã" of the RF Criminal Code (including “entering of known false information in official documents”, “making a known faked falsified document, containing information, íå ñîîòâåòñòâóþùèå äåéñòâèòåëüíîñòè or actual state of affairs ", clause 2 of the comment to article 292 from the book “Comment to the RF Criminal Code” ed. by V.M. Lebedev and Yu. I. Skuratov, Norma, Moscow, 2002).
*(6) Homeless animals in the context of the RF Civil Code (hereinafter CC).
Moscow as an entity of the Russian Federation is entitled to treat the presence of homeless animals in the street in the context of the CC only, which code does not say that homeless animals may be deprived of support, thus legitimizing their permanent stay in the street.
"For as long as the pet owner is searched for, the animals may be left with the person who found them to take care of or use, or be surrendered to a different person to look after them or use, providing he has the appropriate conditions for pet keeping" (art. 230 of the CC, part 2).
"A person who detained homeless animals and a person to whom the animals were handed over for keeping must keep the animals properly" (art. 230 of the CC, part 3).
"Should the person refuse to acquire ownership of the animals he keeps, they shall become the property of municipality and shall be used in accordance with a procedure determined by the local government" (art. 231 of the CC, part 1).
As can be soon from these quotation, the CC states in so many words that it is the support of neglected animals that is a crucial, distinctive and integral element of treating the animals.
While legitimizing permanent free stay of neglected dogs in city streets within the framework of the Program, in addition to the articles already listed, article 209 of the CC, part 2 is also violated; this article reads: "The owner is entitled, at his discretion, to take any action in respect of the property he owns, that do not contradict the law and other legal acts that do not infringe upon other people’s rights and interests protected by law". Pursuant to this article, the owner of homeless animals, whether a private individual, federal, city or municipal organizations or public authorities, has no right to keep homeless dogs in â ñâîáîäíîì âûãóëå and jeopardize the lives of humans and other domestic animals, thereby violating civil rights.
1. Developed countries have a more successful experience. They have systems of number regulation and maintenance of domestic animals uniting municipal services (Animal Control) and NGOs. The countries of EU, United States and Canada are characterized by a considerable number of pet animals (dogs and cats) maintained in the owners’ houses and apartments. Western specialists believe that pet overpopulation is determined by some very high rates of breeding of homeless animals. The pet overpopulation is due to the incompatibility of supply and demand and, "extra" animals find themselves in the street. The homelessness of animals is regarded as a negative feature, and, among other things, on humanness grounds, hence, an optimum situation would be the one of minimum numbers or absolute absence of homeless cats and dogs.
The major form of handling neglected and homeless animals in western countries is no-release capture with the animals to be in shelters (The shelters act as centers of collection of "extra" animals from the owners and centers of handing over animals to their new owners). After a mandatory period of stay in the shelter, during which the cats and dogs are to be handed over to their new owners or to public shelters for further maintenance, the animals that were not claimed are to be drugged to sleep. The lethal injection (euthanasia) is regarded as an inevitable measure because shelters, fulfilling municipal programs ( the so-called "open-admission shelters”) are to have sufficient carrying capacity and be always ready for the admission of new animals. The biggest animal protection organizations (The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA); HSUS and PETA in the United States believe that it is more humane to put an animal away rather than to cast it loose and doom for early and cruel death. In fact, along with "open admission shelters", there are shelters belonging to organizations which do not believe in putting healthy animals away. Those are "limited-admission shelters”, which terminate admission in case there are no vacancies. They have an important but an auxiliary role to play in animal population control.
In order to reduce the numbers of homeless animals and thereby decrease the number of lethal injections in the shelters, an important preventive measure is to encourage pet owners to ensure cessation of breeding. This is attained via reduced taxes on neutered animals, massive education campaigns of animal protectors and free neutering of the animals belonging to poor people. Only licensed breeders are entitled to have non-neutered animals, and those breeders have to pay appropriate taxes for the right to engage in this activity. Along with that, measures are also taken to counteract uncontrolled free-ranging of dogs. When the proportion of neutered pet dogs reaches 70 – 80% of the total number, the number of captured animals begins to decline considerably. That permitted some cities to bring the number of lethal injections to a minimum, supply virtually becoming equal to demand. A positive dynamics associated with mass neutering of pet animals is recorded in various countries. In fact, in the United States, over the last 30 years, the number of lethal injections in the shelters has declined fourfold. In Great Britain, about half of captured dogs are lost pet dogs that are returned to their owners within a week. Most of the others are handed over to new owners and only 10 – 15% of the captured animals are put away.
The only pattern of handling homeless dogs in developed countries is no-release capture, whereas in respect of homeless cats a different approach is used. Some UK and US cities use the "trap /neuter/release " strategy (TNR). This policy is financed by charity funds in addition to municipal capture and is only applied with respect to some isolated "colonies" (family groups) of homeless cats dwelling on the outskirts, in enterprise areas, university campuses, etc. The "colonies" should have responsible guardians to ensure the monitoring of the cats and veterinary care. Animal protectors ensure concurrent neutering of all the cats in the "colony", and unless some new animals are admitted, the numbers gradually decline. This policy is not applied to dogs as they are more "problem" animals, that do not form compact isolated "colonies".
It is thought that a decline of the number of homeless dogs and cats occasionally brings about penetration into peripheral districts of cities of wild animals claiming the same forage resource (i.e., food waste). In fact, in some regions of the United States those are coyotes and the common raccoon; in England, foxes; and in some regions of Germany, these are also raccoons. However, the number of those animals the scale of the problems they cause are much lower compared with the populations of feral dogs and cats. In addition, the emergence of such animals is determined by specific conditions of the environment. For instance, in England, foxes were attracted by sparse low-rise housing with a large number of hedges, lawns, shrubs and accessible domestic garbage in frail plastic bags. Inconsiderate actions also encourage the penetration of animals, including supplemental feeding of foxes by some citizens in England or an artificial introduction of a species that does not have any natural enemies (as American raccoons in the FRG). Applicable to wild animals are normal hunting methods for number reduction, limitation of access to forage, etc.
Partial utilization of the ÑNR strategy for homeless dogs in Europe is done by charity organizations in some cities of Southern Italy; and local experiments, in Bulgaria and Greece. But firstly, those subtropical regions are on the boundary of the historically evolved range of the so-called pariah dogs (see below) and secondly, capture continues to be used there jointly concurrently with CNR (no-return removal from the environment) and there are shelters.
2. Southern developing countries. TNR as the main method of handling homeless dogs is used in some human settlements of India, Turkey, Thailand, Indonesia and Egypt. The territories of Asia Minor, Middle East, India, South-East Asia, North Africa belong to the range of geographical distribution of dogs known as pariah dogs. Those are wild dogs dwelling near humans that must have emerged with the advent of urban civilization in those regions.
Their high numbers (up to several hundred thousand in some big settlements) are promoted by: warm climate; large amounts of food waste; supplemental feeding by humans, the diversity of the locality, which is an intricate low-rise housing with street bazaars, large slums, numerous fences, inner yards and wastelands. Under such conditions, ecological niches also remain for other species, e.g., homeless cats, rodents, etc. But the status of dogs and cats does not quite meet the concept of "homeless". There are actually no pet dogs and cats there (they only occur in Europeanized districts). Hence, the problem of animal "overpopulation" has been “taken out into the street". Populations depend on the available forage in the presence of intra- and interspecies competition (the latter being weakened by a mosaic pattern of the environment).
In that region, the dogs are regarded as a source of danger, above all, because they spread rabies. Other disadvantages, including bites, are only considered in most Europeanized districts, where the TNR strategy is not welcome and not used. To suppress or prevent rabies outbreaks, dogs are shot and poisoned on a massive scale, or occasionally mass capture with lethal injections is practiced. In this case, however, the numbers are rapidly recovered until the next shooting or poisoning. Actually, the organizers do not set themselves the task of eliminating street dogs, their only specific objective being suppression of a local rabies outbreak.
As an alternative measure of rabies control, Indian animal protectors have proposed the TNR procedure for dogs. In this case, their purpose is not elimination of dog homelessness as there are very few pet dogs there. The objective is stabilization of the population and rabies vaccination. During the last 10 years, some rapid and cheap technologies have been used in some Indian cities in the absence of a prolonged post-operative control. Dogs remain outdoors, their mass mortality being caused by "natural" factors. In the city of Jaipur, the dog population was reported to be stabilized, its number may have been somewhat reduced. That happened when the number of neutered dogs reportedly (non-confirmed evidence) reached about 70% of the population. In other bigger cities, final stabilization has not been attained: huge populations make it impossible to attain the required proportion of neutered animals. In this case, no-release removal and putting away of "problem" (aggressive, etc.) dogs is funded by the municipalities. There are no municipality-owned shelters there. The practice of killing dogs in a district where there is an outbreak of rabies still exists.
3. In Russia, pariah dogs are not common, because this country has different nature and climate conditions, a different urban environment pattern and a historically-developed culture of animal maintenance of its own. Like in Europe and the United States, the majority of dogs and cats and in our cities are pet animals. Whereas in South Asia, the bulk of the urban dog population are out in the streets, in Russia they are maintained at home. Homeless dogs in Russian cities are abandoned pets or their offspring. In Russia, there are no "purebred lines of homeless dogs" existing for centuries. A large number of homeless dogs there is an index of declining responsibility of the owners and incompetence of the authorities. Whereas in South Asia, dense populations of pariah dogs have been in existence for centuries, in Russia, a sharp increase in the numbers of homeless dogs is only recorded during the last 10 - 15 years. Our cities have not been adjusted to a non-conflict presence of neglected dogs, including interspecies relations: the urban and rural environment in Russia is by far less mosaic compared with the South. Dogs can penetrate almost anywhere. There are relatively few shelters for animals that are potential competitors or prey to dogs (except synathropic rodents). As a result, when homeless dogs are numerous they kill cats on a massive scale in high-rise housing blocks and domestic animals in forest parks and suburbs.
Analysis of a set of facts reveals that the optimum for Russia is a version of western approach envisaging an active professional impact on homeless animal populations by no-return capture, a network of shelters, a network of open admission shelters and supplemental TNR application (e.g., cat "colonies", small groups of dogs in enclosed enterprises), but the major factor for population reduction could only be prevention from pet breeding.
How birth control does good to dogs, cats and veterinaries.
"Where homeless dogs are abundant, alley cats are normally in small numbers. They live on the roofs and lead a nocturnal mode of life because there are dogs outdoors during the daytime and hence, the cats are ousted by the dogs with respect to forage sources. Likewise, dogs affect the homeless cat population by killing homeless cats, particularly kittens."
Prepared by Vladimir Rybalko, biologist
Appendix III. Our proposals regarding the solution of the homeless animals problem in Russia.
What they wrote about the program “Animals in the city”, on the basis of which the neutering of stray dogs with subsequent release to their former habitats began. Appendix VII.
Our proposals regarding the solution of the homeless animals problem in Russia.Our Organization in its appeal to the RF President V.V. Putin dated October 4, 2004 proposed that a three-tier system of measures aimed at solving the homeless animals problem is introduced in Russia. In this document we propose the following:
What they wrote about the program “Animals in the city”, on the basis of which the neutering of stray dogs with subsequent release to their former habitats began.
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