Center for Animal Welfare Legal Protection    
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Autonomous non-profit organization
Center for Animal Welfare Legal Protection

"Extermination under the banner of humaneness"
(" ")

authors: Svetlana Ilyinsky and Yevgeny Ilyinsky
ANO Center for Animal Welfare Legal Protection
published in Russian newspaper "Mir novostei" (" ") of January 04, 2005

      City authorities are telling us that a Program of Humane Reduction of the Numbers of Homeless Animals has been under way in Moscow since 2001. Therefore, the taxpayers' money has been used to sterilize cats and dogs, with subsequent return of the animals back to the streets.
      The last widely advertised "mass sterilization" campaign aimed at homeless animals held in Moscow in the fall of 2004, has, according to our sources, yielded to the city under 100 sterilized stray dogs.
      The rate of homeless dogs sterilization has been even slower over the last two years, while nobody has resorted to different methods of controlling the numbers of dogs. This makes clear whence the enormous number of packs of dogs in our streets. Cats were virtually never included in the said sterilization program.
      Today, gradually we are coming to learn much of what has become an integral part of the aforesaid program and, hence, of what is being paid with your and our money.
      In November, 2004, the team of authors of the Moscow Red Data Book undertook a count of rare animal species. The survey included a number of natural complexes, among them the "Tushinskaya Bowl" and "Serebryanyi Bor" ('Silver Wood'). The survey results indicated this: "Where brown hares and lepuses, ermines, marshotters, weasels and many other species appearing in the Moscow Red Data Book used to be encountered some 2-3 years ago, these animals are nowadays practically extirpated by numerous packs of stray dogs. Besides dogs, no other species of land animal species have been discovered in these areas, let alone small rodents. This is the plight of virtually all Moscow natural complexes that used to be regarded as nature islands in the city, and they conserved biocenoses of a natural ecosystem..." (from a communication by Boris Samoilov, Editor-in-Chief of Moscow Red Data Book, Chief of Laboratory, All-Russian Scientific Research Institute for Nature Conservation).
      Thus, wild animals that many European capital cities pride themselves on, have, through the fault of homeless dogs, been lost to Moscow. This outcome is a direct consequence of the aforesaid policy of Moscow authorities, who have legitimized stay of homeless dogs on city streets and have made it a norm. Such a policy of an "unheard-of situation with dogs" runs afoul of the principles of animal and nature protection.
      Are the federal authorities doing anything about this? Why, extermination of wild animals listed in the Red Data Books of Federation's legal entities constitutes a direct breach of the RF Laws "On the Fauna" (Article 24) and "On Environmental Protection" (Articles 3, 50, 60).
      But the dogs are extremely dangerous to people, too. Over the last few years, there has been an abrupt increase in the number of bites by stray dogs, and the gravity of such bites has grown, as the dogs attack increasingly in packs. In Moscow alone, there have been officially two lethal cases on record, where people died of stray dogs' bites: in April, 2001 the night guard of a construction firm was bitten to death, and in January, 2004, a female worker of a garbage-pressing station died. According to our source, one more woman died for the same reason in 1999. Thus, we are faced with a flagrant violation of the RF Law "Fundamentals of the RF Legislation on Protection of Humans' Health", where Article 2 stipulates priority of preventive measures aimed at protecting the health of the population. In this connection, the RF Gosssanepidnadzor has, on more than one occasion, called for a revision of Moscow policy of dealing with homeless animals.
      The inexplicable humaneness of the authorities towards dogs alone has proved a tragedy to all other animals. Thus, because of stray dogs Moscow homeless cats are on the brink of life and death. In the context of the current Moscow Government program, cats and stray dogs seem to be equally protected, because according to the appropriate decree of Moscow Government, both should be "under the protection of public authorities" and "regulation of their numbers should be based on socio-moral considerations and meet the requirements of humaneness that rule out premeditated murdering and cruel treatment of animals". In actual fact, however, homeless cats "are controlled", dying in agonizing tortures: they are literally extirpated by dogs that have occupied Moscow. It should be noted that unlike fighting dogs, e.g. Staffords and Pit-bulls, that usually kill their prey quickly by strangling, packs of stray dogs hardly ever kill cats at once, without torturing them. At first, having caught the cat, dogs pull it apart, snatching the prey from one another; the cat's insides get smashed and torn to pieces in the process; having lost interest in the victim which is incapable of resisting the dogs any more, the dogs leave the cat still alive, and eventually it may take the poor cat a few hours to die.
      When our organization began to protest openly the policy of stray dogs' unrestricted habitation (including sterilized dogs), the municipal authorities retorted: "What else do you want from us? Ours is the most humane policy in the world: we even do not allow to drug animals to sleep. As for stray dogs tearing apart homeless cats, this is normal, it's the dogs' biology, and such is the cats' lot."
      For all the declared aspiration "to take into account the socio-moral aspects", one of the component parts (and extremely adverse consequence) of this policy is that individuals, including children, get accustomed to scenes of violence among the animals, while people grow more disdainful toward weaker creatures that are in need of help. The apotheosis of such upbringing becomes conviction of children that it is not morals of a human being, but his biological essence that determines the meaning of his life. For example, while watching scenes where dogs tear apart cats, children tend to assimilate the principle of "he is right, who is the stronger one", whereupon setting one group of animals on another group becomes quite normal to them. We witnessed a scene, where being attacked by a stray dog, a cat, seeking a refuge, by miracle managed to jump up a tree; two youngsters, aged 10-12 years, were standing by and one of them uttered distinctly for everyone to hear: "Never mind, doggy, we'll sure find another cat for you...". And that was no joke. Those very boys told us later how they favorite stray dog Rex had been tearing apart kittens. We take the view that the Department of Education should seriously look into the aforesaid practice to make sure it does not contradict the aims of upbringing our children and does not result in the emergence of cruel, immoral individuals with no compassion toward the weak.
      However, we already have quite a few adults, calling themselves "guardians", who feed packs of stray dogs and feel safe sharing the same view, whereby one should put up with biological essence of our reality. When you tell such people that the dogs fed by them at the entrance to their house tear cats apart on a regular basis, they respond by sayng: "So what? All dogs do this and mine are no exception". It looks that such people more value the process of having a relationship with particular animals, and they enjoy the process like visitors of a zoo, who feed animals defying the prohibitive signs and appeals. For various reasons, they cannot keep a dog at home, but when it comes to a public area, - yes, please! Here, one can even build a kennel, not asking anybody's permission. It is a matter for regret that nobody intends to put the dogs on a chain near the kennels, which is a standard practice in a civilized society. The "guardians" are more concerned about their own "proprietor" interest, than about protection of the animals. But then, in all disputes and to all discontented parties, these "guardians" put on a guise of animal welfare protectors, projecting a flawless image of being almost saint, for they rescue the hapless homeless animals. The people really concerned about animal welfare come to the rescue of animals not by feeding stray dogs most of which are at home on the streets (especially in packs), but by taking doomed animals to their homes. Such animals are, above all, cats, for which the time of true ecocide has arrived in Moscow. At present, cats survive on the streets for a few months, at best, although their biological cycle is over 20 years (incidentally, cats live longer than dogs). As a result, people bring to their homes dozens of cats, they spend their savings on the animals, often lose their health, well-paid jobs in the process, they come into conflicts with neighbors and relatives. It is to support such people that we appealed to the UNO with a manifesto.
      In our last appeal to the RF President, where the need for taking action to resolve the problem of homeless animals in Russia was substantiated, we stressed that true guardianship of neglected cats and dogs must be paid, financed from the budget through taxation of pet owners, and must be arranged on a contractual basis governed by tough rules. Guardianship must be centered solely on pets kept at guardians' homes.
      Today, we all realize that not only guardianship of stray dogs on the streets, but street guardianship of homeless cats fails to provide a reliable animal welfare, because guardians of cats are unable to protect them from dogs.
      Solution of the homeless animals problem calls for a package of measures, including the adoption of economic mechanisms, curbing animal breeding and balancing the supply of and demand for cats and dogs: this is the basis of animal well-being. However, at present, nothing is being done about the problem, while people are simply schooled to ignore it: after all, according to documents, homeless cats and dogs have, as from the year 2001, "successfully" been "an integral part of the city ecological environment" and have been maintaining Moscow "biological equilibrium" (as a result of which, for example, the entire dappled deer population has been extirpated by stray dogs in the "Losinyi Ostrov" National Park!).
      The ruinous policy in respect of animals has, for the time being, been adopted in the form of Moscow Government decrees. However, this policy has been planted in the Moscow Law "On Keeping Pets in the City of Moscow", passed by the Moscow City Duma in the first reading. The developing party of this law (and the author of the concept of maintaining biological equilibrium by homeless animals) - Department for Housing and Communal Services promises to submit the Law for the second reading in January, 2005. If such policy is approved in the final version of the Law, this will constitute the last nail driven in the lid of the coffin of Moscow animal welfare.

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