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MOSCOW, January 14 (Itar-Tass). Russian fighters against stray dogs, referred to by many as mere slaughterers, declared January 13 as their unofficial day — "Dog Hunter Day." Late last week dog owners warned each other they should walk their pets with caution Monday. It was not a false alarm - numerous reports about poisoned dogs emerged in social networks in the afternoon.
Roman Kokteyev, from the town of Divnogorsk, the Krasnodar Territory, told the Novyie Izvestia daily his dog was poisoned while sitting on the chain in the yard of his house: “When I came home, I saw my dog lying there in a pool of blood and with foam at his mouth and something that looked like meat between his jaws.” According to Kokteyev, four similar cases were recorded on the same day in the town after dog hunters had thrown poisoned food over the fence.
Marina Chkalova, in St. Petersburg, said she saw pieces of meat crammed with tiny nails scattered around in a local park: “I literally snatched it from my pug’s mouth at the last moment”.
On January 13 the ANTI Dog Hunters’ site reported new ways hunters used to kill animals, among them meat with nails and levigated poison scattered under trees and posts, the places dogs usually sniff.
Animal rights activists in the Moscow Region’s town of Reutov also recorded cases of poisoning. Wurst and sausages with deadly filling were strewed in the park not far from the railway station and in several streets. There are no stray dogs in this district any longer, so animal flayers had known well in advance they would be targeting home pets. Several dogs were delivered to veterinary clinics over three days. Nine were rescued at the last moment and at least four died.
People in Vladivostok in Russia’s Far East demanded the city authorities should urgently deal with the killers. The activists sent letters to the head of the city police and heads of the regional and city parliaments urging them to call the knackers to account. They draw attention to the fact dog hunters kill not only homeless dogs, but also pets who have their owners. Moreover, poison scattered outside can be harmful for children. The petition has already gathered over 40,000 signatures.
This time dog hunters did not officially declare any large-scale actions, like those that killed hundreds of dogs over the last three years in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Saratov, Novosibirsk and other big cities.
However, reports of certain anti-dog operations are regular.
"On New Year’s Eve, December 30, I heard a spine-chilling scream outside,” Yelena Svetlova, Moscow, said. “It was a dog, the neighbor’s Labrador. The dog had swallowed a deadly bait. He died on the way to the next clinic. His screams still reverberate in my ears. And his owner now calls the ambulance every day.”
“These knackers set themselves up as city keepers fighting against stray dogs that can be dangerous for people. But the poison kills indiscriminately. These flayers are known to have killed humans, too. Viciously, cruelly, in a roundabout way. I knew a young man who died of a massive stroke soon after his dog had been poisoned. Some cannot easily survive painful deaths of their beloved pets.”
People in the Moscow Region’s Sergiyev Posad announced fund raising for a memorial tablet in the place where a stray dog called Hachiko after the famous Japanese dog, a symbol of unreciprocated dog devotion, died at dog hunters' hands. For almost two years the dog was waiting for his owner who deserted him and even travelled by bus in the hope to find him. He ate the poisoned sausage and, witnesses say, died in agony.
The wording on the tablet will be as follows: “A tribute to dog love and loyalty. And a reminder of human indifference and callousness.”
The plenipotentiary representative of the Russian government in higher courts, a famous lawyer Mikhail Barshchevsky believes such offence against animals should entail a much severe punishment than similar crimes against humans. “Not because I place higher value on animals than people, surely not, but they are dumb and more harmless animals,” he told the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily.
“We now live in a very cruel society, and tolerance towards people who are reduced to torture the weak — animals, children, the old, blind people or poor timid migrants is to be strictly condemned. Those people are breeding the tumor called universal hatred,” Barshchevsky said.
He admitted the article of the Russian Criminal Code about the punishment for cruelty to animals just does not work. “Figuratively speaking, we have just about five cases litigated in court a year all over the country. It does not work as there are no moral standards.”
The dog hunters’ movement raised its head in 2011. Experts say the reasons are the local authorities' inability to handle the stray dogs problem properly and to inefficient measures to regulate their number. According to dog hunters, they kill homeless dogs to secure themselves and their relatives from the risk of being bitten or even killed by a flock of stray dogs and to clear cities of carriers of diseases and vermins. Nevertheless, their actions affect stray dogs and pets alike.
A number of animal rights movements are the only people who mount real resistance against dog hunters, primarily opposing them on the Internet.
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