It seems every time an international sporting event is coming up there are news stories about plans to cull stray animals in host cities and countries. Most recently, Russia has been in the news over concerns that the country killed stray dogs ahead of the soccer World Cup.
Although Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko has said that the country built shelters to hold the stray dogs, there are still concerns about the fate of these dogs. It is estimated that 2 million stray dogs live in the cities hosting the World Cup. Simply putting these dogs in shelters during the World Cup is not a viable solution. If these shelters become overcrowded then it is likely that some of the dogs will be euthanized.
Russia may also be trying to hide their stray dog issue without actually addressing stray dog overpopulation. Culling stray dogs is a short-sighted and ineffective solution. Countries that implement eradication plans ahead of international sporting events are more concerned with appearances than the welfare of the animals.
Additionally, the eradication plans can quickly become expensive. One of the cities that is hosting the World Cup paid a company $560,000 in January to catch and hold stray dogs. While government officials state that holding the dogs is humane, Russian activists say that the dogs are being held for just 10 days and then euthanized. Ahead of the 2014 Olympics, the Russian city of Sochi paid a company $29,000 to kill 1,200 stray dogs and cats with poisoned darts.
Alley Cat Rescue and other animal groups advocate for the use of humane sterilization plans to manage animal populations. Many countries currently implement sterilization plans for stray dogs that are similar to the trap-neuter-return (TNR) method Alley Cat Rescue uses for community cats. Under these programs, stray dogs are given a rabies vaccine and sterilized. Just like in TNR, friendly dogs can be adopted out and unsocialized dogs are returned back outside. These programs help address the public health and appearance concerns that countries may have ahead of international events.
Russia and other host countries should reject eradication plans and instead allocate funds for long-term sterilization programs. Concerned animal lovers should boycott international events where stray animals are killed and demand that humane solutions are used instead.
Alley Cat Rescue is leading in the way in promoting humane and compassionate care for ALL cats.