There are a lot of stray dogs in Atyrau. Some form packs, running around the back streets bringing fear to passers-by. Others, on the contrary, remain alone, wagging their tails and trying to be close to people in the hope that a warm hand will pat their head. These dogs are usually the result of them becoming unnecessary and abandoned by their owners on to the streets. These dogs and others await their fait of a poisoned dart.
This year 42 million tenge was allocated from the city budget for shooting stray animals. Several hunters of IP “Zhaiyk”, who won the tender, head to addresses, indicated by city residents in applications to the Telegrams. Hunters destroy around 100 dogs a day and as practise shows some of these are not strays but beloved pets who had the misfortune of being outside the gates at the wrong time and place.
The enthusiasm and lack of distinguishing stray from pet is explained simply, pay by the piece. Hunters earn very well.
Local authorities have taken a tough stance on this,
“If she is a pet, she should be on a leash. If a dog, even if wearing a collar, wanders around it is deemed unowned and subject to shooting, explained the city veterinary department.
What is the situation in other regions of the country? Based on internet research I found a resolution from Maslikhat, West Kazakhstan Territory, on the Approval of Rules for Catching and Destruction of Stray Dogs and Cats dated 2016. This resolution prescribes that strays are not shot on sight but are caught and held in a shelter for three days. A picture is taken of the animal and displayed on social networks. If the animal is not claimed or rehomed then it is euthanised. My friends in Uralsk have stated that whilst the resolution exists it is often not followed and animals are often destroyed on sight. At least however, according to the resolution, animals in this region are provided a second chance. The corresponding decree of the maslikhat in the Atyrau region provides no such chance, a dog without an owner on the street is shot. Its easier and of course cheaper.
There have been long debates between animal rights volunteers and the authorities in Atyrau about methods of reducing the number of stray animals. “We wanted to arrange a rally, but in the akimat we were advised to calm down. We were promised land for a shelter, the project has been funded with personal funds however a year and half has passed and still there is silence”, says a volunteer of the group Meirimdi Zhrek, Alfiya Okasheva. Alfia has rented land and has found shelter for over 70 stray dogs. Places are severely limited however as is funding for care and maintenance. In the 5 years the shelter has been in existence, volunteers have created around 100 smaller shelters.
How about Europe? Different methods exist however the most common trend appears to be catch and place in a shelter for different periods of time. If the animal remains unclaimed it is put to sleep. At the same time owners are required to register their animals and microchips record both animal and owners details. If an animal is abandoned the chip will locate the owner and they are fined. In some countries owners are required to sterilise their animals unless they are registered breeders.
There is a veterinary clinic in every district of Istanbul where stray dogs are sterilised, vaccinated against rabies and released with a tag, some are even given names. On the streets and in parks there are booths for dogs and specially designed cat houses as well as food and water bowls. This is provided from city budgets. Animals are visible everywhere but well looked after and no one is afraid to stroke them, my friend writes from there.
Not all dogs get paradise
The topic of course is not an easy way and even in Turkey everything is hardly idyllic. In Atyrau every year, hundreds of people are bitten and two years ago a 7-year-old boy was severely mauled by a pack of dogs. Doctors only managing to save his life with great difficulty. This is a complicated problem that requires much thought and lessons can be learned by successes seen in other countries/areas.
by Anastasiya Alyushina