Animal welfare campaigners will brief MEPs on 8th March in Brussels on the “barbaric” killing of stray dogs in the Ukraine, the Naturewatch's letter reads..

A team from Naturewatch will present undercover footage shot by Ukrainian journalists in capital city Kiev that graphically shows strays being clubbed and poisoned on the streets by city employees.

The shock film also shows that animals not killed immediately are scooped up in nets and hurled into deep mobile containers before being taken into the woods for “sorting”. Some are then skinned and their fur used in the production of hats, gloves and shoes, while the carcases of others are used for soap or dog food.

Naturewatch director John Ruane said: ”The way these poor creatures are treated in Kiev and other parts of the Ukraine is absolutely barbaric and should not be allowed in any country affecting to be civilised, especially one with ambitions to join the European community.

“We want MEPs to bring pressure to bear on the Ukraine by pointing out that its cruel treatment of animals will seriously damage western public opinion and therefore its attempts to achieve eventual EU membership.

“The Ukraine is also risking its developing tourist industry. If British tourists find out how the Ukraine treats its stray dogs, we can expect them to vote with their feet and go elsewhere for their holidays.”

The showing of the film has been timed to coincide with the run-up to the Ukrainian elections on 26 March, when Naturewatch say the resulting increased international awareness of the country will provide an opportunity to bring the issue to the attention of the wider world.

At the Brussels briefing the Cheltenham-based organisation will urge MEPs to send a letter of complaint to the Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko.

“Local media coverage of the way animals are treated in the Ukraine has had no impact,” said Mr Ruane, “and journalists are risking their jobs and their lives to bring this story to a wider audience.”

He adds: “The profits from selling the dogs’ skins and carcasses, along with most of the £460,000 (US $750,000 – $800,000) allocated by the city for animal care, is unaccountable and shrouded in a veil of secrecy, with Ukraine being the joint third most corrupt country in Europe (shared with Belarus).”
As a reminder, Ukraine is considered to be the third most corrupt country in Europe (Transparency International Corruption Index 2005); Ukraine passed its first Animal Protection Bill at the end of 2005. This Bill was drafted by Naturewatch and other western animal welfare organisations; the EU has no legislation on the treatment of companion animals. Legislation from the Council of Europe – of which the Ukraine is a member – states that companion animals ‘should be collected humanely and destroyed humanely’. The Kiev authorities say that they are complying with this legislation.

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