Thursday, April 26, 2007

Local Government Offers Bounty for Tails of Dogs

Kosovo is overrun with stray dogs.  It's estimated that there are around 30,000 stray dogs in Kosovo.  The problem with strays spiraled out of control during and after the fighting when Kosovars abandoned their homes to escape the war.  Many left their pets to fend for themselves and in the dismal, cold winters, some pets became wild and aggressive.  Many of the released dogs were not neutered so the population began to spike even more rapidly.  Programs to capture and neuter the stray population failed to a great degree due to lack of funds and support from the government whose main focus has been gaining independence rather than dealing with social issues.
Now, the local government is answering citizen complaints about the stray population and hosting "culling contests" where local hunters are invited to shoot dogs on the streets of the towns and collect a prize of 7.5 Euros for each tail they deliver.  The hunters are escorted by local police and pubic service workers who supervise the hunt and clean up the bodies.  In Mitrovica, several hundred dogs have already been culled by hunters.

<soapbox>Previously, British and Norwegian KFOR organized culling programs but due to great criticism of the program and the cruelty both halted their operations.  The problem with these culling programs is that the people in Kosovo have suffered enough trauma and having packs of hunters going through the towns and killing dogs is a violent solution.  If the Kosovo government really wants to address the issue, they can organize "contests" to capture dogs and take them to the donation supported animal shelter by the airport.  Aggressive dogs that cannot be rehabilitated can be put to sleep (a much more humane method of culling) and those that are not aggressive but rather just left to unfortunate circumstances can be taken care of and hopefully adopted by a local or international.

The idea of the government actually sponsoring and giving a bounty for hunters to go around a city and shoot dogs honestly turns my stomach with disgust.  Shooting dogs is not a proper method of culling as often the shooter can fail to kill the dog with a single shot and the less aggressive dogs that are friendly towards people are killed first.  What is left after the culling are dogs that are injured and more aggressive towards humans because of the incident and dogs that were already aggressive towards people as they will not allow hunters to get near enough for a shot.</soapbox>