Puppies Litterally Tossed Over Shelter Fences in Moscow
The International Fund for Animal Welfare's Becky Brimley and Roy Jones visited Moscow in early August to assess the situation with IFAW’s companion animal project there.
These photos are of a little puppy who was thrown over the gate of a privately-run shelter in Moscow during the night. He didn't have a proper name yet so the staff simply called him “Malchik”, which means 'little boy' in Russian. Lucky little Malchik will have no trouble finding a home because he is so young and adorable.
But the way in which he arrived at the shelter does highlight how difficult things can be for so many dogs in Moscow. There are well over 100 dogs in the shelter living in difficult conditions, and more arrive frequently as the city government often brings stray or unwanted animals there. The shelter also accepts owned dogs when their owners die.
The dogs do receive veterinary treatment, and the shelter staff do the best they can under the circumstances; it was nice talking with them about cheap and easy ways to enrich the dog’s lives.
But Moscow's strict no-kill dog policy means that the current population has been there an average of 5 years. Another 10-year-old dog arrived not long ago after his owner died, and this once beloved pet now lies with his chin on his paws and will likely spend his last days in the shelter.
The plight of Moscow dogs can also be seen in this photo, taken in a street underpass right off Red Square. Many stray dogs take refuge in these underpasses, especially during the long, cold Russian winters.
While IFAW’s Russian companion animal project doesn't directly support
shelters such as the one described above, the IFAW mobile clinic does
sometimes help such shelters at their request. Primarily, IFAW’s
Animal Center and mobile clinic provides spay/neuter and vaccination
services to low income families so that unwanted puppies like Malchik
don't get born in the first place, or end up on the streets.
Longer-term aims of the project include lobbying to improve and enact
new animal welfare laws, as well as conduct educational outreach
programs to improve the situation for dogs and cats in Moscow.
Animal Center vets spay the stray dog Shurka (“Alexandra”) after
she was found by night workers in an outdoor marketplace. The dog was
gravely at risk because she was famished, and IFAW vets decided to
sterilize her after intensive support therapy.
UPDATE: 2nd post
I just returned from a visit to Moscow, where I met this sweet shepherd mix in a street underpass right off Red Square. Lots of stray dogs take refuge in these underpasses, especially during the long, frigid Russian winters.
Moscow abandoned its ‘catch and kill’ stray dog policy with its associated cruel methods of killing but the Ccty hasn’t invested enough in spay/neuter projects to actually control the stray dog population so the numbers are growing – estimates vary between 20,000 and 100,000.
There has been lots of media about dogs attacking people, so in a desperate attempt to get the dogs off the streets the city government is going to round them up and put them into mega-shelters that it is busy constructing all across the city. We visited one of the construction sites, and I’m sad to report that it appears the shelters will be a far cry from what we would have hoped.
Pet owners are also having a very tough time as the cost of living skyrockets – Moscow is now one of the most expensive cities in the world. Many people struggle just to pay for vaccinations, let alone getting their pets spayed or neutered, so there are lots of litters and these unwanted pets often end up at one of many sub-standard shelters. We visited one of these where the owner and her helper were caring for over 100 dogs and doing the very best they knew how to but, despite their efforts, the facility was overcrowded, filthy and the stench was awful.
I spent time chatting with the shelter owner about cheap and easy ways to enrich the dogs’ lives and she was very grateful for the advice. I’m just hoping that she will be able to make time to do some of it.
IFAW Russia’s work is aimed at directly targeting the root of the problem in Moscow. We don’t directly support shelters like the one described above - instead IFAW’s Animal Center and mobile clinic provide spay/neuter and vaccination services to low income families so that unwanted puppies like Malchik don't get born in the first place. I was impressed to hear that last year alone, almost 1000 dogs and cats were spay/neutered.