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6 Oct, 2007 08:52

Shocking animal cruelty in Russian capital

Moscow residents are stunned as a gang of teenage girls deliberately sets their dogs against other animals in the south-west of the city. The locals have united with animal campaigners and drawn up a petition to stop animal cruelty.

Brutal and distressing, but apparently for a gang of girls in Moscow this is the latest in entertainment. Pictures of wounded dogs and puppies appeared on the internet and are said to be the results of so-called dog fighting, but in fact they show one dog lying helpless while the other is encouraged to attack.

People living in south-west Moscow believe a group of four girls are responsible for the attacks, encouraging their pets to attack homeless strays or even chasing dogs being walked by their owners by approaching them from behind.

Neighbours say the girls own various dogs, starving them and beating them to make them more aggressive.

“One day we learnt that a dog had been strangled on the sixth floor. We all think the young lady killed it,” a girl who lives nearby said.

“I think she has more than three or four dogs. I haven’t really heard of her chasing dogs but I see that sometimes she walks one dog and then another one,” another neighbour added.

The girls themselves have refused to comment. ‘Do not knock – there is no one home!’ says the note left on the front door of the flat where the alleged ring leader of the girls is said to live. But one can definitely hear some dogs barking behind that door.

Vera Udovichenko who lives in the same area, knows how scary the dogs can be. About two weeks ago she was out with her Dalmatian Yunko when she noticed a few girls with their dogs to the side of her.

“The girls seemed to be holding the dog and when we passed by they told their dog to attack Yunko, and then the fight began,” Vera Udovichenko recalls.

Vera says the attack lasted about fifteen minutes. Yunko was bitten on his ear and on both his legs and had to be taken to the local vets for treatment. He may now be wary of other dogs, but Vera is just happy he survived the ordeal.

Another neighbour was not so lucky. Her dog was killed in a similar chasing game.

In April, seventeen-year-old Violetta Viktorova, the alleged ringleader of the girls, was taken to court and made to pay $US 800 for moral damage. No other punishment was given because of lack of evidence.

Psychiatrists say there could be many reasons behind the girl’s actions.

“First is a desire to show their power over all the living creatures and to experience sadistic pleasure from their suffering. Usually the people are very timid in their families, so they try to compensate for their weakness and vulnerability,” psychiatrist Mikhail Vinogradov notes.

Residents and animal rights campaigners have drawn up a petition with more than 300 signatures and are organising a public demonstration, in the hope that something can be done to stop the gang before another dog falls victim to their games.