Sofia is still full with stray dogs that can be seen at every corner. However, we think of those only when they become aggressive due to our negligence and attack somebody. Then the society seemingly unites, trying to find a solution to the problem with evil stray dogs that endanger our peace. Thus time goes by till the next accident, the problem deepens and practically there is no sensible and effective solution. The issue arose once again recently, after another person was attacked by dogs and died from his wounds. Yavor Gechev from the Four Paws international animal welfare organization says more on whether there is any light at the end of the tunnel.
“The light is still too far, although visible. People in charge usually wake up after such serious accidents and start to look for working solutions. In this case Sofia Municipality reacted quite adequately. Mayor Yordanka Fandakova and NGOs negotiated the creation of a crisis response center that will gather once weekly and will be headed by her personally. All big NGOs, engaged with the stray dogs issue will take part in it too, along with authorities. Issues will be discussed and directly solved there. Thus the NGOs will have the chance to require the equal implementation of the Animal Welfare Act everywhere. The lack of control and the total anarchy in the business with pets is the reason for the increasing number of stray animals.”
According to Yavor Gechev Sofia’s citizens will be able to see the results from this joint activity very soon. The neutered and de-wormed animals will now be marked with a microchip and a plastic ear tag that will be spotted from a distance. There will also be an ID number, showing who has neutered the animal, with a possibility for sanctioning if the job is not properly done.
“A huge shelter for stray dogs should start working in three months, which will allow the gradual withdrawal of the animals, rejected by the society. The animal welfare organizations will be able to work with them, to socialize them and offer them for adoption. There should also be control over people, who adopt. We hope that the problem will be under control within 6 months and the stray dog population will be significantly reduced over the next 2-3 years. However, the solution of each social problem depends on us, people and when we see some animal abuse, we should alarm the authorities in charge. Official data says that each year more than 4,000 animals are thrown in the streets, while other organizations have estimated a number of up to 15,000. Strict control on owners is the only way to stop this and we, NGOs should support the actions of the respective bodies.”
There have been talks at the parliament over the past few months that the methods for dealing with stray dogs should be changed. The Ataka party suggested the animals captured to be euthanized. This attitude caused the reaction of many people outside Bulgaria. Some 10,000 emails have been received only in the German embassy in Sofia, expressing concern about the destiny of stray dogs. That is why the embassy and the Goethe Institute organized a meeting, subjected German-Bulgarian Cooperation for Animal Welfare. All concrete reasons for the growth of the population of stray dogs were pointed out at it, along with the most effective ways for solving the problem and the concrete help from Germany.
English version: Zhivko Stanchev