Posts Tagged ‘dog rescue’

stray dogs

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About a year ago, when I visited my parents in Ukraine, I couldn’t help but notice a great number of stray animals on the streets of Ukrainian cities and towns. Everywhere I went, there would be a small pack of stray dogs. And where there were no dogs, cats prevailed. Stray dogs came in all sizes, colours and breeds. Most of them were mutts, but some were pure bred. I saw one gorgeous Dalmatian roaming the streets of my home town. If only I could, I would have taken the dog with me in a heartbeat.

Ukrainian stray dogs are no different from strays in any other country. Skinny, with protruding ribcage, they sustain themselves on garbage, an occasional cat, and food scraps from stores, markets and individual animal lovers. Most people are kind to them. In my parent’s neighbourhood, I saw one elderly woman who delivered food to stray animals every other day like clockwork.

Last Sunday, when I talked to my mom over the phone, she said she was concerned about my seven-year old nephew, who walks every school day by a garbage dump overrun by stray dogs. “Dogs arrive here by trains,” she said. I thought I had misheard her. But then she explained that indeed stray dogs come to town by freight trains that bring coal for a local power plant. When a train arrives and workers open the freight cars, overwhelmed dogs just spill out of the cars and disperse throughout the town.

After talking to my mom, I went online, googled “stray dogs in Ukraine,” and found several articles on the subject. Ukraine, with an estimated stray dog population of 500,000, is co-hosting the high profile 2012 UEFA European Football Championship. Knowing Ukrainian government’s proclivity for cover-ups, I think the number of stray dogs is largely underestimated. I’d say the actual number is probably double or triple what they are reporting. Of course, no one wants to look bad in the eyes of the international community, and stray animals that roam the streets of major Ukrainian cities certainly don’t paint an attractive picture. So the government hired exterminators to shoot or poison free-ranging dogs and cats, and even provided mobile incinerators to burn the bodies. Some witnesses say there were cases when animals were burned alive.

When animal rights activists in Europe learned about this atrocity, they raised a hue and cry and forced the Ukrainian government to adopt a new law, under which stray dogs and cats are not to be killed, but put into shelters. But the problem is Ukrainian cities don’t have adequate animal shelters! (The only shelter in Kiev that I could find on google already houses 600 dogs!) Okay then, they said. Let’s start a program to spay and neuter these animals — to keep their numbers in check — and then release them back into the streets. But where are they going to put up their furry patients? Municipalities have no capacity for animal postoperative care, meaning, heavily drugged dogs would be left to their own devices to survive the first few days following surgery. Needless to say, the sterilization clinics are in short supply.

Some “smart” problem-solvers in Donetsk (a one-million city nearest my home town) found a “creative” solution: they throw stray dogs in freight train cars laden with coal and ship them out of sight – out of mind, making them someone else’s problem. That’s why my home town is overrun by stray dogs. That’s why my mother is so worried about her grandson. That’s why it breaks my heart just to think about it.

So it appears, that the Ukrainian government has no clue as to how to deal with all these unwanted animals — a problem that have been overlooked for many a year. And maybe a decision about Ukraine hosting the 2012 UEFA tournament was a huge mistake. On the other hand, without the high profile event, these problems would never have been put in a spotlight. I really hope they will find some acceptable solution to this quandary, but like many other animal lovers, I fear that after the UEFA tournament, the government will go back to their surreptitious ways and will quietly resume killing the dogs, because no one will be watching.

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Jeannie, a rescue dog, lost her leg in a leghold trap


Once in a while every city gets a dog-related story. This week we’ve been shaken by two, one on the heels of another. The first story is a heartbreaking tale of a dog with a missing leg. The second… an unfathomable tragedy that affected the entire community.

Good dog, poor dog

Yesterday, a story ran in our local paper about a young dog that apparently got caught in a leghold trap and chewed her own leg off to break free. The dog was named Jeannie. (read full story). It sounds like Jeannie’s troubles are far from over: she is extremely emaciated, has mange, and suffers from several open and infected wounds. Although her leg (or what’s left of it) needs to be amputated, the animal is too weak to undergo a surgery. They want her to put on some weight and get a little healthier first. Jeannie’s treatment  is expected to cost a pretty penny, and AARCS (The Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society) is asking for donations.

Update on Jeannie’s story

Family dog gone terribly bad

Today’s story was about a tragedy in a community just north of Calgary. A family husky attacked a newborn; the little boy didn’t survive the attack. Not much is being said about what provoked dog’s aggression. All we know at the moment is the dog didn’t have a history of violence. (read full story)

My heart goes out to the family who have suffered this unimaginable loss. It’s also a reminder to all of us, canine aficionados, that dogs have teeth, and they can bite.


As Cowboy pointed in his comment to this post, the article (and the organization behind it)  is against pitbulls. I have nothing against pitbulls and I don’t believe in “aggressiveness” of certain types of dogs. I believe it all boils down to a responsible dog ownership, although “ownership” is not the best word either to describe our relationship with our beloved four-legged “kids.” Please also note, in the 2nd case it’s a husky. And the circumstances of the attack are likely still under investigation.

Advice from DogsBite.org

Staying safe

Most dangerous situations

  •     Leaving an infant or toddler alone with any dog breed
  •     “New” situations involving children and aggressive dog breeds
  •     Approaching a chained dog, especially if it is male and unaltered
  •     Encountering a group of loose dogs. Like the human “mob” mentality, normally obedient dogs often become violent when part of a pack
  •     Inserting yourself into a dogfight, especially when pit bulls are involved
  •     Approaching a vehicle with a dog inside (or in the bed of a truck)

Always remember

  •     Do not pet a dog without first letting him see you
  •     Do not lean your face close to a dog
  •     Do not tease a dog, especially if it is chained
  •     Do not startle a sleeping dog
  •     Do not bother a dog that is eating
  •     Do not disturb a dog that is caring for puppies
  •     Do not turn your back on a dog and run away

If you think you may be attacked
Guidelines from the HSUS

  •     Never scream and run
  •     Remain motionless, hands at your sides, and avoid eye contact with the dog
  •     Once the dog loses interest in you, slowly back away until he is out of sight
  •     If the dog does attack, “feed” him your jacket, purse, bicycle, or anything that you can put between yourself and the dog
  •     If you fall or are knocked to the ground, curl into a ball with your hands over your ears and remain motionless. Try not to scream or roll around

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