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There is currently no working mechanism that could stop mass abandonment of house dogs

Half of the dogs on the streets of Sofia weren’t born there, according to FOUR PAWS’ observations

Sofia, 14.06.2012

According to experts from the international welfare organization FOUR PAWS there is currently no working mechanism, that could stop mass abandonment of house dogs in Bulgaria, and this is what the root of the problem with strays lies in. From 2008 to 2011 there hasn’t been a single convicted owner who has thrown their pet out on the street. The database that should keep all data from the microchips still isn’t functioning either. According to FOUR PAWS each year 4,000 stray dogs are being taken off the streets, one way or another, but their places are immediately filled by the next abandoned pets. The organization receives information regarding the organized transportation of large groups of dogs from municipalities around Sofia, which is often done in order to create the impression, that the municipality can handle the situation.

“Yet again the discussion shifts to the consequences of the problem, instead of the causes”, claims FOUR PAWS’ representative Yavor Gechev. “Unless the influx of pet dogs to the streets is interrupted, the problem will never be solved – like it wasn’t solved for the last more than 130 years. Our information shows, that every second dog living in the streets of Sofia was not born there – it had an owner once, who at one point decided to abandon it.”

FOUR PAWS reminds that in the first months after Bulgaria gained independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1878 the issue with stray dogs was the order of the day for Sofia municipality. It was decided to begin mass extermination through poisoning with strychnine. Until 2008, when the Animal Protection Law was passed, this was the exact policy for solving the problem, and it had no visible results. According to official data, from 1999 to 2008 almost 10 thousand stray dogs were killed in Sofia.

“Einstein’s definition for insanity is ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’. Today several Bulgarian politicians are trying to convince us, that we should be doing exactly this – return to methods which have already proven their inefficiency, and expect that a miracle happens”, Gechev explains. “If there was a strict control over irresponsible dog-owners and the number of abandoned animals was reduced to a minimum, the issue would be solved in a matter of 2-3 years. Otherwise, after ten years we will still be debating which path to choose”.

According to FOUR PAWS the only reason for the lack of a permanent reduction of the number of stray dogs in Bulgaria remains the low implementation of the Bulgarian legislation, which offers very clear directions on what measures should be taken, in order to solve the problem.