In Putin’s big push to win the war in Ukraine he has increased the military budget to 30% of GDP. The average in the West is around 2%. In 2024, Russia is a war machine and a terrorist state. Most citizens of Russia are unaware of it except that they must be seeing substantially poorer public services across the board. Putin has taken Russia back to the Stalin era and that includes an expansionist agenda to seize countries that he considers to be Russia – the old USSR.
In 2020, Putin, a dog lover who owns two toy poodles, promised a more civilised Russia by rewriting the country’s constitution in respect of animal protection policies and laws. His intention was to stay in power until 2036. He wanted to shape “a sense of responsibility when treating animals” in Russia. He said that the new constitution at that time “allows us to feel like civilised people”. An admission that Russian society was uncivilised before 2020 in respect of its treatment of stray dogs and cats.
It is said that war can change the mentality of a country’s citizens. The background aggression can make people anxious which can lead to the degrading of relations with others and with animals. This seems to have applied to the Kremlin because on July 24, President Vladimir Putin signed into law a fundamental change in respect of animal shelters.
Where once it was a federal concern, Russia’s regions can now write their own rules about handling homeless animals which invariably includes matters concerning euthanasia.
The regions can have quite a basic attitude towards animal welfare. News media reports that sometimes stray animals are simply hit over the head with a shovel. That can be the regional method of administering euthanasia in Russia. Volunteers report seeing dogs with their throats slit.
Elana Rudenko from Moscow who’s been volunteering to rehome homeless dogs said that the new Kremlin edict is “like a death sentence for many animals.”
She added that “The new law can just drown people like me. We fully understand what euthanasia in the regions means. No one will spend money on humane euthanasia; there the norm is hit them on the head with a shovel”.
Buryatia is a mountainous Russian republic in eastern Siberia north of Mongolia. Following the change, the head of the region, Alexei Tsydenov, announced that stray dogs will be placed in shelters for a certain time and if not adopted they will be killed. He said that he is in favour of euthanizing dogs. He believes that it is more humane. He even quotes the World Veterinary Association which he says recommends euthanasia.
But the World Veterinary Association only recommends euthanasia as a last resort. Buryatia is adopting the killing of stray dogs as a first resort. And they are mixing up euthanasia with killing. Both philosophically speaking and in practice.
Animal rights groups want to see a proactive approach to curbing stray cats and dogs including education to reduce ad hoc breeding and careless companion animal ownership. Buryatia is adopting a reactive approach which can never be as successful and is cruel.
The Washington Post has a photograph in their online report of January 20, 2024 entitled “Breaking protection pledge, Russian regions reinstate animal kill shelters”, which shows Russian women carrying dogs to trains to ship them out of Buryatia to western Russia where hopefully they can be rehomed.
The dogs are terrified and malnourished. Volunteers are shipping out 3,000 dogs held in Buryatian shelters in a mass evacuation to a place thousands of miles away.
Buryatia became the first region to adopt uncivilised laws resulting in ‘kill shelters’. The Kremlin’s new regulations allow the regions to set up temporary shelters. so-called, where stray animals can be put down (killed). They are meant to be humanely euthanised with two injections.
Animal rights activists say that in order to save money they use only muscle relaxants which suffocates the animal.
Before 2020 animal activists complained of brutal animal control methods in the regions. Buryatia leads the way in a more brutal world for stray dogs and cats in Russia’s regions. In order to get re-elected Putin in 2020 wanted Russian citizens to feel more civilised. It’s true that the way a country treats the vulnerable in that country meaning vulnerable people and all animals is an indicator as to how civilised country is.
There’s been a regression in Russia arguably because of Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, which was meant to be a limited conflict to capture Ukraine which has turned into a brutal, mass-murdering war of attrition where hundreds of thousands of animals have been killed, thousands of children have been killed as well as innocent, noncombatant, parents.
This cruel treatment of shelter cats and dogs in Russia will take many years to unravel going forward when Putin has left the scene and Ukraine war is over. Nathan Winograd, America’s expert on no-kill shelters must be pulling his hair out reading about the cruelty meted out to Russia’s stray cats and dogs. The methods employed in Russia are the antithesis of what he campaigns for.
On a separate but linked topic, you may have read an article I wrote a little while ago about the White Coat Waste Project’s work against the unethical spending of tax dollars to fund animal experiments in America. Shockingly, American tax dollars were used to support Russian animal testing facilities where cats were cruelly abused.
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