Euro 2012...a Dangerous Time for Stray Dogs

Ian Somerhalder Foundation

The preparations for the Euro 2012 are in full swing; stadiums are being rebuilt, and the host cities are being "beautified”. The country is preparing itself for the rush of soccer fans and camera crews. Europe looks forward to this sporting event every year, an event presented as an occasion to develop team spirit and fair play.

Unfortunately, in preparation for this event, measures are taken to "clean up" the stray animals that live on the streets. On his trip to the Ukraine last summer, the president of the UEFA (United European Football Association), Michel Platini, criticized the city and stated that all the stray animals destroyed the towns picture view and that he expected the local authorities to take care of the problem. The killing of stray animals was never mentioned as a way to take care of this problem…except that is exactly what happened. 

These stray animals have been, and continue to be, clubbed to death, poisoned, and shot. The public outcries of these acts made there way through Europe, Facebook, and other media sources, and “officially” the killing of stray animals was forbidden. Unfortunately the official word did not change much, and this activity has continued. 

Poison is used in public places, even playgrounds, making it a danger to both stray animals and people who might be in the area. “Dog hunters” use online-forums to discuss effective ways to kill the dogs, and will exchange information on where they can be found. These “dog hunters” are not held accountable for their actions, but that does not change the fact that what they are doing is illegal, inhumane, cruel, and senseless. The only proven effective method to control the overpopulation of strays is what is referred to as “neuter and release". This is when animals are taken off the street and either neutered or spayed, and then set free again. 

Instead of doing this, the government justifies their actions by spreading rumors of rabies epidemics, even though they do not have sufficient evidence to back up these claims. Since November 2011 there have been massive protests against this activity, both online and on the streets of the Ukraine. Due to these protests, Nikolaj Slochevski, the environmental secretary of the Ukraine, has agreed to use more humane measures to solve this problem. Many are skeptical though, because this is a promise he has been making for some time.

Several animal rights groups, like the European Animal and Environmental Society have received permission to run clinics to spay and neuter dogs within individual cities. With over 20,000-30,000 strays in the capital city of Kiev alone, that is only a small help in solving this problem. The spay and neuter campaign has been ongoing since the end of January, and continues until February 19th. Animals that are spayed or neutered wear red collars or get tattoos inside their ear, and it is the hope of many that these animals, along with family pets, will not be poisoned or shot following their treatment, a treatment meant to eliminate exactly that from happening.