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FOUR PAWS sets up project in Sofia

A FOUR PAWS team is working hard to decrease the number of stray cats and dogs in several municipalities around Sofia. Our experts will work throughout July in the towns of Dragoman, Slivnitsa and Elin Pelin. Stray animals will be neutered, de-wormed, vaccinated against rabies and marked for their easier recognition. FOUR PAWS will work in a mobile veterinary ambulatory that is the only one of its kind in Bulgaria.

“We are aware of the fact that one of the reasons for the high number of stray dogs in Sofia is the influx of animals from the closest municipalities and that is why we will focus our efforts there over the next month”- says Dr. Marina Ivanova, Project Manager of the Stray Animal Care projects with FOUR PAWS. “Unfortunately few municipalities in the district wanted to join the campaign, since obviously most of them rely on other ways for solving the problem, such as mass killing of animals – the case in Bozhurishte, transportation to neighboring municipalities etc.”

FOUR PAWS states that the main reason for the existence of stray animals in the streets is the non-compliance of the local authorities with the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act and the lack of sanctions for that.

“No more than 1/4 of over 260 Bulgarian municipalities have taken any adequate measures for solving the problem and many mayors even declare they won’t comply with the law. Despite all this, there have been no sanctions imposed for inaction of the control authorities – the State Agency for Food Safety /and its predecessor the National Veterinary Service/ over the first three years since the adoption of the Animal Welfare Act”- Dr. Ivanova goes on to say. “There is no control over the breeding, trade and ownership of companion dogs, although now even the kids are aware of the fact that this is the main source of new stray dogs.”

FOUR PAWS reminds that in April Bulgarian Ombudsman Mr. Konstantin Penchev organized a round table on the stray animal issue. The participants came to the conclusion that only partial work had been done over the years and that a long-term national strategy should be implemented, with concrete steps and clear terms that would engage all municipalities, the government and also vets and NGOs. Unfortunately the Ministry of Agriculture and Food has not started the creation of such strategy yet.

FOUR PAWS has been helping for years the municipalities that really want to decrease the number of stray animals on their territory, in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act. In 2010 the team treated over 2,500 animals in 16 municipalities. In 2011 the team has already visited 5 municipalities and over 400 animals have been treated in the mobile clinic. A neutering campaign for stray cats started in April that FOUR PAWS executed together with private veterinary clinics – some 300 animals have been treated so far.

© FOUR PAWS | Yavor Gechev