Too often it happens before a World Cup or before the Olympic Games. This is when the authorities decide on the mass slaughter of stray cats and dogs in order to clean up the streets for the tourists who come to these major events. It is more likely to happen in countries with poor animal welfare records such as China and Russia.
The authorities do not want stray animals spoiling the experience of visitors and tainting the image of the host country, which next summer will be Russia for the World Cup. They should ask the tourists. I am sure they’d prefer the animals to be treated humanely.
The Russian government say that they are going to treat stray animals humanely and decently which can only mean a massive TNR program across the cities who are hosting the World Cup. They present this image to the world but in reality they have put out tenders to contractors in the sum of 110 million rubles. One intelligent commentator remarked that the amount of money designated to kill huge numbers of stray cats and dogs would more than cover the expense of operating an effective TNR program across the same cities. Nonetheless, the authorities want a speedy, clean resolution to the problem which means killing the animals. It’s a quick fix with a complete disregard for the animals concerned.
The information coming out of Russia is rather mangled. This is probably due to the fact that the authorities are putting out propaganda that they are treating the stray animals humanely when in fact they are not. In Volgograd they mention the destruction of the animals while in other cities they refer to euthanasia and the “utilisation of the carcasses”. The last phrase is very ominous and sinister.
The tenders for contracts to kill the animals was discovered days after the sports minister assured a State Duma committee that the government would avoid measures that could provoke a negative reaction in the mass media because of cruelty to animals. The Russian government ordered host cities to create temporary shelters for the animals but no funding was allocated.
There was a similar culling of animals before the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. There was a similar culling of animals before the Beijing Olympic Games. It’s common practice. It reflects on the attitude of the authorities of these countries towards animals and totally goes against the grain of what Vladimir Putin projects to the world namely his supposed love of animals.
Often companion animals or semi-domesticated animals are killed in these purges because they are less afraid of people and therefore more vulnerable to being shot. Apparently, in Russia there are many Russians who take pleasure in hunting dogs on the streets. I don’t know how they managed to hunt dogs on the streets in cities without endangering the life of people. But there are some people in authority who approve of dog hunters and protect them. It appears that dog hunters are getting support in some shape or form from the authorities. One dog hunter in Vladivostok bragged online that he had killed more than 1000 dogs. He was fined the ruble equivalent of US$350. They say that dog hunters love their own dogs but are quite happy to shoot dogs belonging to others.
The World Cup is tainted in more ways than one. This animal cruelty is obviously objectionable and unacceptable but you may remember the scandal around granting the World Cup to Russia, tainted as the process was by allegations of bribes. Russia is known to be a corrupt country. It ranks very high on the corruption stakes. It would not surprise me and is probably almost certain that they bribed FIFA officials in order to get the World Cup. In all, it is a tainted sporting event and frankly quite depressing that it has come down to this.
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