In 2008 Sofia Paid BGN 1,2 M for False Dog Population Management
On February 16, 2009, a press release of Ekoravnovesie Sofia Municipal Animal Control said: "In 2008, 4 900 stray dogs were caught in Sofia. 580 of them were killed because of aggressive behavior or disease. 206 dogs were adopted by citizens, and about 4,100 were returned to the places where they had been caught, after having been examined, disinfected and neutered." Obviously, the major activity in Sofia were about 4,300 dog surgeries.
On February 19, 2009, Sofia Municipal Council adopted the 2009 Budget. The enclosed 2008 annual report includes total expense of Ekoravnovesie of BGN 1 219 484. So approximately 280 leva were spent per released or adopted dog. In 2007, the average price was about 230 leva.
I will not discuss possible fraud in funding this activity. More important is the total lack of population management. First, in violation of the law there is no Municipal Register of thousands of dogs sterilized and released on the street every year by Ekoravnovesie Sofia and Tierhilfe Sueden Bulgaria. Also at variance with the law, NGOs do not assume responsibility for supervising such animals. In this situation most of the strays disappear without trace. And new animals of unknown origin flood the streets.
Second, owned dogs constitute the main population and the mass breeding and abandonment are the real problems in this field. Overpopulation is a subordinate issue without separate solution. Therefore, the main task in humane population management is increasing the percentage of owned pets that are altered. For example, progress in the US in recent decades was achieved through the low-cost neutering, i. e. subsidizing, encouraging and assisting massive pet sterilization.
If Mayor Boyko Borisov's team decide to engage in solving the problem, Sofia must implement a low-cost sterilization scheme. So 280 leva spent now for each dog left to the human iniquity could be sufficient to subsidize sterilization of five owned animals. And the annual budget of Ekoravnovesie could promote sterilization of approximately 20% of the basic pet population in the capital.
On February 2 2009, a Written Declaration on the welfare of pets and stray animals was forwarded. It was signed by MEP Alain Hutchinson, MEP David Hammerstein, and MEP Neil Parish. Neil Parish was president of European Parliamentary Intergroup for Animal Welfare and member of the European People's Party.
The short text notes that the European Council's Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals is considered. But it is argued that "there is no uniform or specific text relating to the protection of pets and stray animals that applies to all the Member States." The authors call on the EU "to mandate Member States to put in place a system of management at national level for collection, sterilisation and vaccination."
Mayor Borisov did not express attention to the EPP representative and the initiative taken by him. Moreover, enough Bulgarian politicians and theyr satellite NGOs just turned long speech on the animal protection in cynical populism.
There is no national strategy for managing dog and cat populations. According to the Animal Protection Act ordered by former Agriculture Minister Nihat Kabil, the initiative for pet population control stayed at local level, i. e. dependent on the favor of Mayors. This ensures complete opacity of all activities concerning owned and stray populations. So no official from the Ministry of Agriculture or the National Veterinary Service, which is able to provide figures concerning Sofia or Bulgaria - how many animals survive on the streets, and how many are supposed victims of the experimental and leather industry. Sofia is the embodiment of exactly opaque policy.
Abandonment, mistreatment, punishment
MEPs noted: "in many Member States there are still cases of mistreatment of pets and stray or abandoned animals." They call on the EU "to introduce measures to ensure that Member States impose severe punishments on people who abandon or mistreat a pet or a stray animal."
Recently the National Assembly's agenda included noisy discussion of amendments to the Penal Code concerning dog fighting, animal torture and unnecessary animal killing. And the main issue for the mass abandonment of pets is off the agenda of the whole society.
We should not be fooled out that MP Evdokia Maneva by her proposal again neglected the real population problem, i. e. massive abandonment, but wants to be pursued any cases of violence. Actually, more than a year there are working administrative penalty provided by the Animal Protection Act, e. g. large fines in similar cases. But hardly any MP will indicate annual data for such violations sanctioned by the National Veterinary Service officers.
On February 12, 2009, Four Paws Fondation Bulgaria launched campaign to criminalize cruelty to animals. They took an online petition to the National Assembly in support of Evdokia Maneva Bill. Petition presented theyr vision of cruelty: "In Bulgaria every day dozens of animals are deliberately killed or mutilated in an extremely cruel manner." Year by year, most popular animal advocates prefer elated campaigns to help individual animals; but avoid speeches about hundreds of thousands of unwanted pets who disappear each year.
Enforcing European rules
In its statement, MEPs call on the Commission and Council "to sanction any Member States that fail to comply with the above Convention and the new measures to be adopted."
Bulgaria was not mentioned in the written declaration. But disastrous situation of Bulgarian dogs and cats is known abroad. In five years after the accession of Bulgaria to the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals, the government did not taken any of the provided measures for the humane pet population management. In recent years, Paulo Kasaca MEP, then-president of EP Intergroup for Animal Welfare, in a letter to leading Bulgarian politicians, i. e. Prime Ministers Sergei Stanishev and Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, was repeatedly pointed out these commitments of Bulgaria.
On February 3 2009 Simonne Eggerickx of Belgium organized online petition among EU citizens, addressed to all MEPs. Petition was immediately translated in Bulgarian language and published in several forums of animal lovers. But there were sporadic coments. Popular animal advocates writing in the forums did not demonstrate any commitment to this international campaign.
N. B. Similar text in Bulgarian language was published in February 26 2009 by e-vestnik.bg.
Emil D. Kuzmanov, founder
Animal Programs Foundation
18 Yanko Sofiiski Voivoda Str
1164 Sofia, Bulgaria
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