By Michele C. Hollow of Pet News and Views
In just a few days people from all over the world will be watching the Olympic Games. The host city of Sochi in Russia is trying to put its best face forward in hopes of boosting tourism throughout the city and the country.
According to Andrew Rowan, CEO of Humane Society International (HSI), the city of Sochi hired a company to kill stray animals before the crowds descend. Rowan is urging Russian President Vladimir Putin to stop the culling. “Killing street dogs, whether through poisoning, shooting, or other means, is not only inhumane, but ineffective,” says Rowan.
HSI, the global arm of The Humane Society of the United States, has been implementing street dog programs throughout the world for nearly two decades. According to Rowan, HSI’s programs include mass sterilization, vaccination, and community education. “It’s the only effective approach to solve the street dog issue long term,” he says.
In a letter delivered to President Putin, HSI describes its collaboration with governments from around the world to implement programs to humanely and effectively control street dog populations. These programs, which are in place in India and Bhutan, among other countries, have resulted in fewer dogs on the street; a reduction in the rate of dog attacks, and substantial reduction in the number of dog bites requiring treatment; and an improved human-dog relationship that benefits both people and dogs.
The letter also describes how HSI has closely monitored the street dog problem in Russia for the past two decades, observing that street dog programs implemented by local governments have suffered from lack of resources and commitment.
HSI became involved in Sochi last summer when city officials announced a plan to kill 2,000 dogs ahead of the Winter Olympics. The international outcry forced city officials to abandon that plan. HSI stands ready to help Russian authorities address street dogs, saying in the letter that: “While it is too late for many dogs in Sochi, we again offer to provide advice and expertise on how to manage dog populations humanely.”