Ukraine to stop killing stray dogs, at least until after Euro 2012

Succumbing to pressure from animal rights groups, the Ukrainian government has called for an end to the brutal killing of stray dogs ahead of the Euro 2012 football championship next summer.

Ukraine’s environment ministry said yesterday it has urged all local councils to stop destroying dogs ahead of the June event and build animal shelters instead. Thousands of strays have been killed in the past year, often poisoned or injected with illegal substances in an apparent effort to clean city streets ahead of the sports event.

“Today I am publicly turning to all city mayors: let us stop the deaths of those poor stray animals for half a year and build shelters together,” environment minister Mykola Zlochevsky said. His statement followed a meeting with representatives of Naturewatch, a British group campaigning against animal cruelty in Ukraine.

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“This is a fantastic victory for Ukraine, its citizens and its animals,” said John Ruane, head of Naturewatch.

However, it remained unclear how the killing ban would be enforced. Ukraine has thousands of strays in its big cities, and building shelters to house them would take months.

Ministry spokesman Serhiy Syrovatka said the government would work to make the moratorium binding. It also intends to help pay for shelters where dogs that could not be kept would be sterilised before release.

The comments suggest the six-month killing ban is a temporary measure, binding until Euro 2012 is out of the way.