FOUR PAWS is preparing to end Phase 2 of our Stray Animal Care initiative in Ukraine.
With 2012 drawing to a close and the harsh winter arriving in Ukraine FOUR PAWS is preparing to end Phase 2 of our Stray Animal Care initiative in Ukraine.
The Stray Animal Care (SAC) Project Ukraine kicked off on 27 March 2012. FOUR PAWS launched the ambitious project ahead of the EURO 2012 football tournament aiming to assist many thousands of stray animals in the cities across Ukraine.
The FOUR PAWS SAC teams came to Ukraine and visited 5 cities during Phase 1 in the period between 27 March and 31 July 2012. These cities were Kyiv, Lviv, Donets’k, Luts’k and Zaporozhye. FOUR PAWS staff and experts were supported by more than 150 volunteers from 18 countries around the world. All the while establishing a new FOUR PAWS office in Kyiv.
During Phase 1 the dedicated FOUR PAWS staff and volunteers neutered, vaccinated, treated and released 6,097 stray animals, our most intense period of activity in Ukraine.
Phase 1 closed on 31 July 2012, the volunteers departed and the staff returned home for a much deserved break.
Phase 2 kicked off in early September with a smaller FOUR PAWS team made up of Ukrainian veterinarians, vet assistants, and related staff supported by an international SAC team coming from Romania, Bulgaria, Germany, Austria, Russia and South Africa.
The SAC program started up again in the capital Kyiv with the energetic and enthusiastic Ukrainian team, and the international team travelled to other cities. The team was welcomed first in Mykolayiv and spent one month implementing the stray animal project. The city administration and mayor were very happy with the team and even requested that we stay longer. But we could not at that time as the team was already committed to travelling again, and next stop was in Zaporozhye.
This was the second visit of FOUR PAWS to that town and the team set up in a steel and metal-works factory neutering and treating the stray animals that live in and on the grounds of the factory. The staff at the industrial facility were very friendly and grateful for the free assistance for more than 150 stray animals that reside in and around the facility.
Next stop was the city of Zhytomyr with the team starting in November and continuing to the close of Phase 2 in late December 2012. FOUR PAWS received phenomenal support from the city administration, the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and a private veterinary clinic “Doktor Zoo” in Zhytomyr. The work of FOUR PAWS is well known here as we had been very active since August with the planning, preparations and construction of the Bear Rescue Centre Nadiya, the first resident being the rescued bear cub Nastya.
“We are extremely pleased having been able to launch our work in Zhytomyr, which is certainly proof of our good relationship with this city, and their support in establishing Nadiya” says Dr. Amir Khalil, Director of Project Development and Project Leader in Ukraine.
We are proud to report that during Phase 2 we captured, neutered, treated and released 1,800+ stray animals. We have now reached almost 8,000 stray animals in need in Ukraine.
A special note must be made of the phenomenal support we received from many municipalities and citizens of Ukraine. Without them and the international volunteers we could not have done it all alone. The citizens and communities supported the teams with additional volunteers, translators, dog catchers, general assistance and many times bringing food and soft drinks as a humble show of gratitude for the assistance to the stray animals in need.
Regretfully there is one main city that continues the killing of dogs and to date has not shown a willingness to cooperate on the principles of the FOUR PAWS project: Kharkiv. While the city proclaims not to engage in the killing of dogs, their representatives have continued to discredit the approach by FOUR PAWS and at the same time claimed to “solve” the stray animal issue of a population of around 15,000 stray dogs by catching the animals and bringing them to shelters. The city is also not shy to confirm that dogs which can’t find an owner within a certain time will be euthanized. Such approach is totally unacceptable for FOUR PAWS and does not provide the basis for cooperation. The approach by the municipality of Kharkiv will neither solve the problem, nor does it provide a humane approach towards stray animals.
Hope is not lost! There are more than 50 cities that have requested that FOUR PAWS engage and bring our SAC teams, but it is obvious to anyone that such expectation is almost impossible to fulfill. Therefore, we are actively continuing the training and capacity building support to local initiatives, working with local NGOs and shelters that share our vision, but at the same time call on the Ukraine authorities and municipalities to support the frame for such engagement.
As a result of the dropping temperatures and increasing snowfall the stray animals take refuge and hide and it is necessary to scale back activities. In the extreme winter it is almost impossible to work from mobile clinics on the streets.
Christmas and New Year is approaching our teams will take a break before returning again in early 2013. Our Ukrainian team is strong and independent and will continue their focus in 2013 on assisting stray animals in need, sharing knowledge, training and capacity building so that the SAC philosophy continues across Ukraine and is implemented independently by city municipalities.