Stray dogs in Prishtina. Photo: BIRN.

Treatment of stray dogs still unresolved

Despite actions taken by Kosovo the government since last year, around 12,000 dogs remain untreated.

Prishtina Mayor Shpend Ahmeti declared a state of emergency in September 2017, shortly after stray dogs at the neighborhood Emshir attacked a four-year-old boy, as well as dogs in the neighborhood Ulpiana, who attacked two other children.

Days later, Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj requested all Kosovo municipalities to announce a state of emergency.

In December 2017, after receiving a request from the Association of Kosovo Municipalities and from the Veterinary and Food Agency (FVA), the Government agreed to allocate 1.3 million euros for the implementation of an Action Plan over a four-year period.

The Action Plan includes a comprehensive strategy to keep stray dogs under control by training, reducing stray dogs, registering dogs and their owners as well as the licensing of breeders and the private dog shelters.

The strategy, named ‘Managing and controlling the stray dogs’ commenced in 2018 by applying the CSVL methods, capture, sterilization, vaccination, release, which is foreseen to reduce the number of stray dogs as they no longer reproduce. The same project was concluded in December 2018.

The voluntary organization ‘United for Animals,’ whose mission is to protect and promote animal rights, said that in addition to the CSVL method, a lot of work should be done on training and raising awareness among citizens, especially among children.

“Besides the CSVL process, a lot of work needs to be done on training and raising awareness among citizens, notably to primary school children. Although promised but not done so far, the Food and Veterinary Agency should also establish a central database which would serve to register dogs and their owners,” they said.

Four months after the commencement of the project, Arber Taraku, who was appointed as the Head of the National Project “Managing and Supervising Stray Dogs,” said that managing stray dogs falls under the responsibility of the municipalities and the Veterinary Agency. According to him, all dogs with owners should initially be registered and then, a law on animal abuse should be introduced shortly after it.

“14,000 dogs have been treated in Kosovo throughout 2018, which means that these dogs can no longer reproduce. Approximately 20,000 stray dogs would have been on streets today if this had not been not carried out. It is estimated that there are still about 12,000 stray dogs [that have not been sterilized] and their number can be doubled by the end of this year,” said Taraku.

Taraku pointed out that out of 1.3 million euros allocated for this project, approximately 150,000 euros is still available for spending.

Implementing this project is not the only concern the government has about dogs.

Recently, quite frequent reports in media talking about dog fighting rampant competition, having the dogs fight each other until one dies. This has urged the three organizations that deal with animal rights — United for Animals, The Animal Rights Foundation and Kosovo Pet Rescue to address their concerns to the Government and to the Association of Kosovo Municipalities demanding to stop these competitions.

The demands stated:

“1. to issue the order or decision for urgent prior notice and ending dog fighting rampant competitions, to the respective competent institutions, namely to the Kosovo Police and the Directorate of Public Services at each respective municipality.

  1. To identify the individuals/dog abusers as perpetrators of offences and continuously monitor their activities.
  1. Imposing the punitive measures as foreseen by the legislation in force, by municipal inspectors and veterinarians of the Food and Veterinary Agency of the Republic of Kosovo.
  1. Identification of unregistered breeders for the purpose of selling puppies for dog fighting rampant competitions.”

The Animal Rights Foundation said the last year’s project should continue, otherwise it will be considered as a failure.

“In order to consider this project as a success, we must proceed further, however, there is an uncertainty  as to whether the government will continue allocating budget for this project,” they said.

“Otherwise, this project will be a failure. The breeding of other stray dogs will go on without any hindrance. Dog fighting competitions are prohibited by law in Kosovo, also by amendments to the Criminal Code. These dog fighting competitions are now considered as criminal offenses. This is a good opportunity for us to add pressure to the state institutions regarding this issue.”

On the other hand, Lumir Thaci, information officer at the Food and Veterinary Agency, FVA, said that since 2000, the FVA has undertaken various measures, both in terms of awareness and information as well as in terms of legislation.

“The project management of stray dogs has been developed throughout Kosovo, where 90 per cent of the licensed local vets are engaged. The project has been successfully implemented and successfully completed,” said Thaci. “We have managed to raise awareness of the population on the issue of the stray dogs and have created a good climate in terms of taking care of homeless animals, both through human interaction and through professional medical interventions from the vets.”

He pointed out that some special regulations will be drafted in the legislative activity plan for 2020 for aggressive dogs, and according to this regulation, the control and treatment of aggressive dog breeds in Kosovo is foreseen to be conducted.

So far, only the municipalities of Rahovec and Vushtrri have prohibited, the competition of dog fighting by issuing orders for their cessation, imposing fines of 100 to 5,000 euros to the organizers of these competitions.

“However, although we have the Law on Animal Care, it is not being implemented. Animals, dogs in particular, are abused in the areas like the ‘car market’ and the police and municipal inspectorate have not taken any measures to stop this negative phenomenon,” said United for Animals.

19/01/2019 - 15:07

19 January 2019 - 15:07

Prishtina Insight is a digital and print magazine published by BIRN Kosovo, an independent, non-governmental organisation. To find out more about the organization please visit the official website. Copyright © 2016 BIRN Kosovo.