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Stray dogs & cats to be killed ‘humanely’ in Russian animal shelters under controversial new measures proposed by ruling party MPs

Stray dogs & cats to be killed ‘humanely’ in Russian animal shelters under controversial new measures proposed by ruling party MPs
Rescued animals that cannot be re-homed could be euthanized by Russian authorities under rules put forward by government MPs that would make it easier for local officials to free up shelter space and crack down on packs of strays.

A new bill proposed by lawmakers from the United Russia party would give regional administrations more power to independently decide whether to put down homeless animals. Procedures would have to be “carried out by veterinary experts in a humane manner to ensure a quick and painless death,” the draft law maintains.

At present, legislation allows officials to capture, sterilize and vaccinate stray cats and dogs, before releasing them back into the wild. This, lawmakers say, prevents the animals from reproducing, but doesn’t stop them posing a threat to people. A spate of complaints about packs of stray animals terrorizing communities across the country has led to calls for a change in the law. The MPs sponsoring the new measures argue that, on the streets, “dogs unite in groups, which poses a threat to the population, as they become more aggressive.”

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However, the policy has been met with anger from animal rights groups. “We will fight and will do everything in our power to reject it,” Svetlana Safronova, director of the international charity Giving Hope, said. 

“It is bad,” she argued, “because, firstly, it violates the most important law in our country – the Constitution… secondly, it violates the federal law on the responsible treatment of animals, which stipulates that it is prohibited to kill animals [unless in limited circumstances] in our country.”

Safronova claims that criticisms of the current methods of containing strays, including sterilization and releasing them back onto the streets, are unfounded. “We have data from the State Statistics Committee that in those regions [where this approach] has been introduced – it works,” she argued. “Both the number of bites and the number of homeless animals have been halved.”

In December, Tatyana Loskutnikova, a beautician from the Siberian city of Ulan-Ude was left fighting for her life after a pack of wild dogs attacked her, mauling her face and biting her limbs down to the bone. Locals who rushed to her rescue said that her face was “damaged beyond recognition,” with even her eyelids gnawed off. Police shot 10 stray dogs in the aftermath of the attack.

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