The subject is a touchy one for Ukrainian officials who have received widespread criticism in the past for their handling of the issue. Several protests from animal rights activists erupted in recent years due to the alleged poisoning and burning of strays by Ukraine in an effort to cleanse the country’s streets, namely in preparation for the country’s upcoming Euro 2012 competition.
Over 2800 individual cases of dog attacks were reported in 2010 within the capital Kiev alone. For many residents the issue is a sensitive one and a source of fear. As the Euro 2012 draws nearer to visiting Ukraine, officials have devised a plan focused on the sterilization of canines in response to the widely condemned culling of strays. The killings were ordered to be halted by officials as recently as the end of 2011.
The story comes as a second blow to Ukraine as both the host country and is counterpart Poland received widespread attention amid fear of xenophobia inspired violence against fans visiting to view the highly anticipated competition.
Austrian animal welfare group Vier Pfoten (Four Paws) is spearheading the efforts in four of Ukraine’s major cities which are to host events during the Euro 2012 competition. Kiev and Lviv in the west with Donetsk and Kharkiv in the east will test the program’s viability first before efforts can reach further across the country. Players, residents, and activists see this as a step in the right direction, but the country still must address the fears and very real dangers of attacks coming from the strays and roving packs of feral canines.