Whether Tatarstan to have enough money and patience to catch and sterilize stray animals

The government of the Republic of Tatarstan intends to spend almost 170 million rubles for humane trapping of stray dogs over three years

Whether Tatarstan to have enough money and patience to catch and sterilize stray animals
Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

The new federal bill prohibits mass killing of stray animals. Now they must only be caught and sterilized. On the one hand, this should be a big step towards humanity, but animal rights activists continue to sound the alarm. According to their data, there is not enough money for the new order (even with a twofold increase in subventions), or existing shelters, while they may become even less. Animal rights activists explained to Realnoe Vremya why the “good” order of treatment of animals may not work out.

How will animal control work?

The new order established by the enacted federal bill and resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Tatarstan is designed to prevent scandals similar to last year, when caged animals were killed en masse, with potentially painful medication. Then the situation attracted the attention of the prosecutor's office, there was a threat of a criminal case (however, it never reached).

Now the captured dogs will be transported to a shelter, where they will be treated and vaccinated. The animal will be kept in a shelter for 21 days, it will be sterilized or given a host, or it will be returned to its natural habitat. The procedure also provides for mandatory video recording of the capture process. A trapping specialist must have a microchip scanning device to avoid inadvertently taking a pet dog to a shelter.

Some animals will still be killed, but only those who have been diagnosed with a serious injury or an incompatible disease. Looking ahead, we will say: animal rights activists and journalists perceived this as a kind of loophole. They were worried that dog catchers might suddenly recognize most of the captured animals as terminally ill due to some circumstances, although only a qualified veterinarian can make a decision.

Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

The total amount of subventions for catching animals in Tatarstan in the period from 2020 to 2022 is 56,5 million rubles a year. In comparison with the old order, the amounts have doubled: previously, 27,4 million rubles a year were allocated for these purposes.

As Realnoe Vremya found out, the tenders for catching dogs in 2020 have already been announced in a number of regions of Tatarstan. According to the tenders, about 4,000 rubles is allocated for one dog for the above-mentioned purpose, about a thousand of them — to be sterilized, 500 rubles — for treatment, and at $100 a day to keep the animals at a shelter. Judging by the statement of the head of the legal department of the Main Veterinary Department of the Tatarstan Cabinet of Ministers, Artur Ismagilov, all 56 million rubles must be spent only for purposes specified in tenders — the money is not provided for the construction of new shelters.

But will the new order work? There are big doubts about this, which were expressed to journalists by the head of the charity fund for assistance to homeless animals Kot I Pyos, Albert Galiev.

We don't see any significant changes. There are no recommendations to build new shelters, and they probably won't be built in the near future. Those services that have previously been engaged in catching are currently doing the same thing. They have never aroused the confidence of animal rights activists and ordinary citizens — this is a well-known former SOBZH (now Zoocenter), to the methods of which there are questions.

We will remind, SOBZH (stands for 'Service of Catching of Homeless Animals') — the organization that found itself in the centre of the scandal with the mass killing of homeless animals.

Galiev also drew attention to the loophole in the question of killing. He notes that the federal law allows a dog to be euthanized if it is necessary to stop its unbearable suffering and if a specialist has determined that the animal is terminally ill. The republican bill provided for “a reliably established serious illness”. “There are a lot of examples of animals that live with this disease, but here they are subject to killing," he notes

There are also concerns that due to this vague wording, the organizations that catch dogs can massively recognize animals as “terminally ill” and kill them in any quantity.

There may not be enough money or shelters

The journalists had a number of questions to Artur Ismagilov and his colleague, the head of the State Veterinary Association, Timur Galeev, which they, apparently, were not ready to answer.

For example, Ismagilov evaded the question of whether there were enough shelters in Tatarstan for all captured animals. He only said that in the foreseeable future it is planned to use the mechanism of “intermunicipal” shelters — that is, dogs caught in one area will be taken to another area where there is a shelter.

In total, according to Ismagilov, there are about 10-13 foster care points in the republic, all but one of them (in Naberezhnye Chelny) are private. But here's another difficult point: not all of them can meet the requirements for shelters. The requirements themselves are still being under development, and their list should be adopted at the level of the Tatarstan Cabinet of Ministers in the near future. After that, all such points must either bring their activities in line with these standards or close. That is, the already small number of shelters may be reduced even more.

Another problem that Albert Galiev drew attention to is money. Even 56,5 million may not be enough for everything they need.

“If you read the terms on which you need to enter into the contract [for catching animals], you will understand that they are quite difficult for any animal protection organization in the region. These are the moments such as a postpaid contract condition — when the amount of work is performed first and then payment follows. Sterilization in the contract is estimated at around a thousand rubles. But any animal rights activist will tell you that even with the most favourable discount, sterilizing a dog will cost two thousand rubles. Hence the question arises: is it profitable to engage in trapping, sterilization and release back into the natural environment on legitimate terms?

Ismagilov left this point also without comment. He only noted that the choice of the contractor will be carried out on the basis of competitive procedures.

By Alexander Artemyev
Tatarstan