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Moscow shelter dogs seek new home

Published time: December 09, 2009 22:55
Edited time: December 09, 2009 22:55

Would you want a stray dog as your pet? Finding new homes for dogs that used to be strays out on the street is what an innovative Moscow shelter is trying to achieve.

The shelter, called “Human Ecology,” has been trying to encourage people to adopt formerly stray dogs and help solve Moscow’s problem of homeless animals. The fact that shelter dogs are most often mongrels rather than the generally preferred pure breeds is what makes finding them a new home even more difficult.

Current figures put the estimate of the number of homeless dogs on the street at around 30,000. There are currently 8 government shelters in Moscow that have between them 12,000 dogs, though the government has promised to build 15 more shelters.

Maria Vorontsova of the International Fund for Animal Welfare says the beginning of the problem dates as far back as the 1990s and the collapse of the Soviet Union, when many Russians gave up their animals due to poverty.

[Under the Soviet regime] there was a “kill policy” so [animals] were immediately eliminated from the streets,” explained Vorontsova. “But throughout the 1990s the population grew and reached its top by the year 2000.”

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Elena Polienko, Director of a private shelter, told RT about the tough government policies and the difficulties that they pose.

[A recent] document says dogs that are old and sick should be put down,” Polienko noted. “But that way we’ll have to kill half of them, because when they are left on the street their immune system suffers and that’s why they become sick. So we are strongly against it. We think these animals should be worked with and not killed.”

“Human Ecology” has refused to give up and has instead sought to introduce new ways of tackling the issue.

We started off by studying the experience of foreign [shelters] and came to the conclusion that social advertisement is very important,” said Tatiana Koroleva, head of the charity.

Thus, a new poster campaign will appear in Moscow’s metro within the next several weeks with the message that “a dog is for life, not just for Christmas.”