Monday, May 16, 2011

RUSSIA - Moscow between dogs and wolves

In Moscow, biologists who study dogs have noted a trend that has something intriguing, since the behavior of some of these animals would take them back to their wild origins. While living in a megalopolis in the middle of humans, they begin to resemble more and more to their forest cousins, the wolves.

How is this possible? According to animal advocates and environmentalists, the capital would have between 20,000 and 100,000 stray dogs. If their evaluations are imprecise is that there is no counting system, but, according to experts, the figure of 30,000 would be most likely. Their number has not changed since the late 1990s, but it must be added the 12 000 animals (again, the figures are not always reliable) of the 22 shelters in Moscow.

Almost every week, an incident comes to show how urgent it is to tackle this problem. Six people are bitten each day in Moscow, more than 2000 per year. Also, some dogs begin to run in public, the most recent case that occurred near the station of Kiev, with dozens of dogs slaughtered. Monstrosity? Of course, because all are not safe.

Andrei Poïarkov, biologist and researcher at the Institute of Severtsov ecology and evolution, are four groups. First, the "watchdogs", who settled near the garages, parking lots, warehouses and hospitals, and are fed by the staff of these institutions. Most wear a collar and protect the perimeter assigned to them, barking violently, sometimes showing his teeth.

That is the least dangerous category. Then come the "dog beggars". They are adept at recognizing, among the bystanders, who will give them something to eat. They live in small bands to a subordinate chief. They do not threaten humans, which they depend for subsistence. The third group did not seek contact with humans and find sustenance in the street, most often in scavenging.

Those dogs are shy and harmless. Remain the "wild dogs", which, while evolving in the heart of the capital, avoid humans. They do not present danger when it does not cross the invisible border that marks their territory. They are able to attack in packs. They found the behavior of wolves.

But how do you know where they live? It captures the nicest catch When brigades into action, they are the dogs in categories 2 and 3, more peaceful, which are caught early, as "watchdogs" are monitored by security guards, while the "new wolf" are so conservative they are almost impossible to trap.

Result: they are the nicest dogs who end up at the pound. Their vacancy is recovered by males [more aggressive] Category 1 and 4. Result: instead of gradually disappearing, stray dogs tend to multiply. In 1997, a team of specialists in ecology and zoology had, at the request of the mayor of Moscow, developed a unique program, "Animals in the city," which proposed to capture the dogs, sterilize them, then the released where they were taken.

This is what is done successfully in the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Germany and many other countries. But in Moscow, it did not work. Because an official has removed a key point of the plan: the release of sterilized dogs in the neighborhood where they were captured. Yet the general view, the situation stabilizes.

Officials shelters have recruited an army of volunteers to offset budget cuts. Except that the disaster came from where it was least expected it. Last year, the city began bidding for the management of animal shelters. "It is dramatic, says a director of refuge. Before, only could apply specialized organizations that had experience in the field, had to veterinary clinics and personnel.

Now we see the arrival of companies who know nothing and which offer lower costs in half. When they win the contract, the dogs are condemned to starvation and disease. And those responsible for existing shelters to stay in the race, must reduce their claims. Finally, the subsidies they receive are well below the minimum needed for normal operation.

"Empower teachers According to Andrei Neouronov animal psychologist, a public awareness campaign would be welcome. In the West, people adopt animals from shelters, it is a process that is encouraged and well regarded by society. In Russia, however, it is fashionable to have a purebred that you can brag to his friends.

Accordingly, he laments, "a dog that is found at the pound never comes out. If the shelters were receiving major advertising campaigns, many people would think twice before spending a fortune to buy a pedigree puppy, although they could adopt a free brave faithful dog. "Yevgeny Tchernooussov, lawyer and member of working group was tasked to prepare a draft law on the responsible treatment of animals [adopted on first reading by the Duma in late March], says: "For ten years we expect a law on the subject.

It should be ratified on July 1. "It will force the owners of aggressive dog breeds register them, introduce hygiene standards for keeping animals in an apartment. And everywhere in Russia, stray dogs will be caught and sterilized, as now in Moscow. Chairman of the Bar of the capital, Georgi Zoubovski says that teachers will have to take responsibility for their animals.

They will now be prosecuted for abandonment or for any behavior of an animal that has fled, and this is without doubt the most important of the future law. Because professionals are right to say that there are no bad dogs: there are only bad teachers.

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