If he has fleas, he has fleas

Russian dogs win reprieve from internment camps

Ivan Drago - if he has fleas, he has fleasAnimal rights activists in Moscow are celebrating after authorities dropped plans to capture every stray dog in the city and deport them to a camp outside its limits.

More than 26,000 stray pooches pound the mean streets of Moscow, with many sheltering from the cold Russian nights in subway stations, and even learning to ride the trains. However, the incidence of dog attacks was rocketing, as the feral animals banded together to attack humans.

With many strays being sterilised, it is thought that dog breeders are responsible for the increase in numbers. Until recently, dog breeding was a highly lucrative business, which was virtually unregulated by the authorities.

The plan to ship the dogs to a special camp was said by authorities to be a last resort. Official figures indicate that 1.3 billion roubles (£27.6 million) has been spent on a program of neutering and spaying, dog shelters and other various schemes designed to tackle the problem. However, critics have said that a lot of this money has disappeared, rather than be spent on the problem. Rather than adopt tactics like those found in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, where up to 10,00 stray dogs will be shot this year, Moscow officials decided that deporting them would not anger animal lovers.

However, the plan met with much opposition, with Russian actor Yevgeny Mironov condemning them as a “concentration camp” for the animals.

Russian animal welfare charity Bim said that the facility would be a breeding ground for pestilence and disease; the dogs would have to spend a month in quarantine before being transported to it, but as there are no staff or resources to do so, one ill dog could infect many. It said in a statement:

“If there is an outbreak of a disease, animals will be dying slowly and painfully.”

However, city officials performed a remarkable U-turn this week. Just as the proposals were set to be officially sanctioned, they were dropped. So far, officials have been tight lipped, and have refused to comment.