In four Ukrainian cities that will host the Euro 2012 soccer championship next summer, more than 9,000 dogs have been put to death in the last year.
—and animal rights activists, who believe the number is actually much greater, accuse authorities of using illegal, inhuman methods including poison to kill the dogs. “It’s a slaughterhouse,” says the head of one animal protection group and it includes one heartbreaking story of a friendly stray who ate a piece of sausage, suspected to have been poisoned, from the ground; she collapsed and spent hours in agony before dying.
Animal welfare groups say such torturous deaths are common—among them, death by a blowgun syringe filled with dithylinum, which paralyzes the respiratory system, asphyxiating the dog in a process than can take as long as an hour. “We are convinced that there is an unofficial order to purge Euro cities of stray animals so that, God forbid, some stray dog doesn’t bite some foreigner,” the animal group director says. Some cities in Ukraine have tens of thousands of stray dogs, some of which are dangerous. Though officials claim to sterilize strays and then find them homes, put them in shelters, or release them, activists say the vast majority are actually killed—it’s “barbaric,” says a rep from another animal welfare group