Letter to Bulgaria's top officials
Animal Programs Foundation
Mr Mehmed Dikme
Minister of Agriculture
Mr Georgi Parvanov
President of the Republic of Bulgaria
Mrs Lidia Shuleva
Vice Prime Minister
Mr Milen Veltchev
Minister of Finances
Sofia, March 11 2004
Legal Control Over All Activities Involving Pet Populations
Dear Lady and Gentlemen,
At present Bulgaria lacks of steady and reliable administrative watch and control over it's dogs and cats inhabitants. So neglected they have became an easy pray for poachers and the black-market industry.
In December 2002, and ever since ANIMAL PROGRAMS undertook the initiative to help resolve this ever-urgent crisis.
In his written rejection to my previous proposition for adapting mandatory measures and steady, firm & reliable control over all activities and commerce involving such animals, Mr. Tsvetan Dimitrov, Head of the Animal-Farming section at the Agriculture Dept., in reality confirmed, that the legal and official control in this direction barely covers/touches only a fraction of the general population of dogs and cats, their reproductive process, and all related activities:
- Identification and registration of pet-dogs reached 6 months.
- Keeping reports and records of licensed & registered thoroughbreds-breeders, and club breeding activities.
- Keeping reports and records on the legal trade with animals for companionship.
In Bulgaria there is not such an up-to-date record or info on this field. Therefore we need to rely upon assumptions and make use of The Great Britain's and US's statistical data, provided to us by the Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Great Britain) and by the American journal ANIMAL PEOPLE.
The latest conception for control regards both animal species and related human activities as one whole world of system. The main and common problem all over the world with both species are ever-increasing population arising from their uncontrolled reproduction in the urban environment. Therefore the effective control should start with curbing reproducibility and achieving their total control according to human and society's needs. Prevention of unplanned pet birth is well-desired, long expected and ambitious result of constant efforts in few directions:
- Educate and indoctrinate proper and responsible conduct among all cat and dog lovers.
- Discouraging of cat and dog breeding.
- Firm and strict regulation over trade and commerce involving cats and dogs.
- Increasing the number of sterilized females.
- Keeping a single and functional nationwide ID record of all animals, as well as a single record of their keepers and registered owners.
(1) Among the better part of our nation is a widespread traditional love of both species. A Tradition is also the openhearted compassion towards the stray dogs, as well as towards the huge number of free-roaming cats and dogs in residential and industrial yards. On top of all that is a widespread practice of incidental and extravagantly impulsive people to take home pups and kittens. As a result of that is wide spread practice the pets to be offer for adoption or outright stayed thoroughbreds bought and kept for 2-4 years.
(2) During the last few years numerous media, bureaucrats, veterinarians and non-governmental organizations got engaged themselves in a massive phony and hypocritical propaganda aimed towards the trustful and suspicious of nothing Bulgarians. As of today the understanding of the problem is widely believed to be the lack of an "Animal Protection Act" as well as the fate of the stray dogs is treated as a completely isolated and "separate population" case. In a meanwhile the question about the approximate number and estimated increase for both species has been carefully avoided. We have an excessive and steady nationwide reproduction of dog and cat offspring. Not enough owners are restricting their pets of mating, owing it to obscure, subjective and biased motivations. There is widespread false belief, that giving birth is healthy for the animal and that are more then enough potential candidates for their offspring. Many others are breeding them for a hopeful undeclared income of 100-150 Euro/each.
(3) Practically in Bulgaria there are no rules for offering and obtaining cats and dogs. There are no rules for organized illegal activities associated with them as well. Part of this black-market you'll see on the bulletin boards at pet-shops, vet-cabinets, in newspapers or
Internet (www.fokus.bg). One of the organized activity in Sofia is setting free in different town quarters small groups of 3-4 sterilized dogs with collars, which are constantly and obviously born in private backyards.
(4) The fertility among all females practically is kept in tact. Two non-governmental organizations were announcing the sterilization total of about 6,000 male and female dogs during the last 10-12 years.
(5) There is no systematic ongoing ID record kept in Bulgaria and a single registration of the animals, their owners and keepers as well. We can approximate the density of cats and dogs corresponding to humans using Great Britain's 2001 statistics (the number of cats and dogs is at about 20% of the number of the human population: 8,000,000 cats 6,500,000 dogs).
We can conclude that in Bulgaria the two popionulats are consisted of tame animals, classified by WSPA as "dependant, semi-restricted" and "semi-dependant, non-restricted". Their encouraged and tolerated mating leads to an overpopulation. For yearly picture of probable overpopulation we take North Carolina's 80's statistics, when was officially reported an annual average of 238,000 cats and dogs caught and killed per 1,000,000 people. In Bulgaria the better part of the overpopulation is made of tame, "yard" animals, which has a good living conditions for up to 7-8 month of age. Another big part of the overpopulation is constituted of the unregistered pets which were been offered on steady bases by their owners. Obviously their number well exceeds the possibilities of finding a home.
The lack of prevention in our country necessitates the need of pet-population reduction. The only data to my knowledge of such an activity is, that back in May 2000 the deputy-mayor of Sofia announced in the press that about 13,000-14,000 stray dogs were killed at The City's shelter for 16 mo. period. On occasion I was a witness that tame dogs caught by The City's dog-catchers were not checked in The City's shelter. In March 2000 Mr. Pavel Atanasov shot a video of inhumane activities in the same City-shelter, included witnessing the loading to a truck of few dozens alive and drugged-down dogs and taking them to unknown destination. Popular in Sofia are the non-governmental organizations which always collect tame dogs with promises of theirs adoption in Switzerland. The cats kept outdoor always disappeared due to poachers.
We have to conclude that here, besides the formal, there is a "hidden" overpopulation. The commercial interest and the possibility of improper conduct towards the total increase are on focus of the black-market industry, which in turn obtain inexpensive raw-material from animals and from offered pet-companions alike. It's world known, that Far East exports about 2,000,000 pieces of leather yearly, yielded by domestic dogs. During the 90's West Europe and US were flooded with leather goods made out of animals (cats and dogs). Just because of that USA in 2000 and Italy in 2001 had to adapt special restrictive import laws.
Animal Programs Foundation is awaiting the registration by Sofia City Court on case №12496/2003. Meanwhile myself personally am involved in bringing the problem to light (as much as being allowed) and to indoctrinate proper and responsible conduct among all animal lovers. Also I'm ready and willing to seek and use help to organize nationwide sterilization program.
At the same time is extremely necessary for government to introduce measures of special commercial control (similar to that of alcohol & tobacco ):
- Keeping a single and functional nationwide ID record of all animals, as well as a single record of their keepers and registered owners (our goal is to legalize all that shady market dealing with such "goods").
- Collecting sizable amount of tax for keeping females fertile (an effectively applied measure abroad to discourage the non-planed breeding).
- Control by licensing and registration of all activities involving cats and dogs defined as commerce.
Dear Sirs, Ladies and Gentlemen, I'm appealing to you to review, assess and appraise impartiality fairly and unbiased all arguments herewith and to render help and support our
Emil Kuzmanov, founder