Inconsistency in the Sofia Animal Control records raises worries about the types of discharge
Added 24th November 2013 | Last edited 30th November 2013
According to media quotes, the Sofia Animal Control Director, Manol Nejkov, recently announced the number of city's street dogs - 6635 strays. This figure is result of a new census. Previous survey of February 2011 shown 9241 unowned dogs living outside.
Nejkov and representatives of Vier Pfoten Bulgaria and Animal Rescue Sofia - both supporting NGOs - claimed recent data to prove a sustainable progress in reducing local dog overpopulation.
Participants in the informal municipal alliance for animal control explain the street population reduction primarily with the catch-neuter-release approach accepted in Sofia since 2006. The Animal Protection Act of 2008 banned euthanizing healthy pet animals and provided CNR as the major approach in dealing with both unwanted pet population and pet over-reproduction. A total of 26,118 dogs was already reported as sterilized and released outside between September 2006 and July 2013.
The street dog population shrink recorded in Sofia may eventually be, to some extent, a result of opening extra premises. After new municipal animal shelter opened in November 2012, its capacity of 1000 dogs was quickly filled. In addition, Nejkov announced August, September, and October 2013 intake numbers, while last known release figures were for July 2013.
Unfortunately, local pet population dynamics in Sofia remains the core problem of animal welfare that is generally underrated by the stakeholders. Estimated owned dog population here is around 150,000 and no solid evidence such as straight records on animal shelter operations to suggest decrease in its dynamics.
The Sofia animal control's doubtful policy for dog population reduction is the another matter of great concern. Unaccounted stray removal is too neglected in Bulgaria but is likely to play key role in the street population drop. The data of intake from January to October 2013 claimed by Manol Nejkov - 5014 strays impounded - seem untrustworthy. Much higher intake numbers shall be considered, because Sofia Animal Control utilizes eight dog catcher teams equipped with large caravans (e.g. Ford Transit 1994 edition). It is unlikely that a team may be able to deliver just three dogs per a working day on average. Moreover, similar intake was reported from 2007 to 2010 when three to four teams were employed.
Shelter euthanasia numbers for 2007-2010 claimed by Sofia officials just via news media - ca. 900 animals killed per year - are very low and misleading the general public about high death rates and animal welfare problems among unwanted dogs. Another 20 dogs were reportedly killed from January 2011 to March 2012, as cited in Dnevnik Daily. New euthanasia data are not yet available through the media. "There are some 1500 strays dying [every year] due to accidents, age, diseases, poisoning, etc.," Javor Gechev of Vier Pfoten Bulgaria commented the annual street population loss.
The desultory manner of reporting shelter operations across Bulgaria indicates the uncertain status of any animal entering the shelter system. Shelter dogs in the second most corrupt EU member country may be easily supplied to shady dealers for various purposes including, for instance, uninspected animal testing. "Animals such as dogs, rats or guinea pigs, are used in military experiments, particularly in the testing of chemical warfare agents", former Sofia Military Medical Academy chief, General Stojan Tonev, told media early 2013.
This critical situation is just allowed by current animal welfare legislation. Unlike legislative amendments already proposed by Animal Programs Foundation, ensuring that companion animal management works in an effective and humane manner is one of the major problems on which Bulgarian government remains silent.
Petitioning the National Assembly: Stop public funding of cat & dog concentration camps across Bulgaria. Sign this petition and whip up more supporters for this cause >>
A Sofia animal control caravan loaded with five stray dogs ca. 2012. Source: Occupyforanimals.org