IFAW opens new center in Moscow to help stray animals

Monday, 30 April, 2007
Moscow, Russia
IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare - www.ifaw.org) announced today that it has opened in new center in Moscow to help stray dogs and cats. The center was constructed in cooperation with Moscow authorities who supplied water and electricity for the new building and also funded part of the construction costs. The bulk of the construction was financed by IFAW which will also fund the day-to-day operations.
The stray dog population of Moscow is estimated between 30,000 to 40,000 animals. Many of the strays suffer from human cruelty, hunger, and disease. Aggressive animals have attacked city citizens in the past and the stray dog population is a serious concern of Muscovites.
IFAW’s new center – called the IFAW CLAW (Community Linked Animal Welfare) Center – was established to help humanely control and reduce the stray animal population of Moscow. The center is the hub of IFAW’s effort to engage and educate the community about animal welfare issues, as well as the focal point for a program of vaccinations and sterilizations of stray dogs and cats. The center also provides veterinarian care for pets of impoverished people and helps IFAW advocate for stronger laws to protect animals in Moscow.
IFAW’s Center includes a modern surgery room and a large conference room (which also doubles as a classroom). . Working in tandem with the new center is a mobile veterinary clinic, fully equipped with anaesthesia, which travels throughout Moscow to provide basic veterinary care. The center is an unprecedented project for Russia: no vet clinic in the country has both a surgery vehicle and a stationary facility dedicated to helping animals. IFAW’s new center can t accommodate up to 50 dogs at a time as they prepare for and recovery from surgeries and a well-equipped mini bus (Ford van) to transport animals.
 “IFAW’s cooperation with the Moscow authorities began five years ago with the IFAW Mobile vet clinic, which has provided veterinarian aid to more than 12,000 animals. The construction of this center is another step forward for our city animal welfare program,” said Masha Vorontsova, IFAW’s Russian director.
Vorontsova and IFAW President Fred O’Regan hosted an opening ceremony at the clinic which attracted more than 80 guests including professional veterinarians, IFAW friends and allies, journalists, and state officials. Among them were Oleg Mitvol, the deputy chief of the Russian environmental watchdog Rosprirodnadzor, and Vera Stepanenko, head of the Environment Commission of the Moscow city parliament.
Collaboration with Moscow authorities had a tremendous significance in the creation of the IFAW CLAW Center. Authorities helped solve the inevitable infrastructure problems that large construction projects encounter in Moscow; that cooperation demonstrated that city authorities support the community welfare programs initiated by IFAW.
Galina Rodionova, the head of the local district administration, Koptevo, where the new center is situated, stated, “The alliance with a world famous animal welfare organization like IFAW enriches our experience, helps solve the problem of stray dogs and cats more effectively with no killing methods, and prevents cruelty to the animals.”
IFAW president Fred O’Regan hailed the cooperation, “IFAW applauds Moscow’s decision to seek more thoughtful approaches to address the problems facing the dogs and cats that roam its streets. We’re pleased to help by providing spay/neuter sterilization surgeries and vaccinations for both the homeless animals living on the streets and for the pets of low income Muscovites. IFAW is delighted to open this Animal Welfare Center. It is important because it will enable an increase in the volume of surgeries and vaccinations that we can provide. It allows us to do vital education work with the local community, while expanding our training programs for professionals involved in management of the animal community. As a permanent structure it indicates IFAW’s commitment to the animals and people of Moscow.”
Guests at the opening were impressed by the scale of the program and the equipment in the new center. The gas anaesthesia, which is a rare practice in Russia, drew particular attention.
Cora Bailey, IFAW-CLAW senior advisor from South Africa, stressed the humane aspect of the event before cutting the symbolic ribbon - a traditional sign of the beginning of a new and vast project. “Very few people in this world will ever see an elephant, or a bear, or a tiger or even a seal. But every single person in this world will interact with a dog or cat at some time in their lives – and that is what sets companion animals apart from the rest. At CLAW we have a saying: ‘At the end of every leash is a person,’ concluded Bailey.

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