​The problem with stray dogs remains unresolved, citizens demand an intervention from the institutions

​The problem with stray dogs remains unresolved, citizens demand an intervention from the institutions

The treatment of stray dogs has not been solved for many years, although there have been many requests to solve this problem.

Citizens demand immediate solutions as the presence of stray dogs in the streets of Prishtina is worrying.

The Association of Kosovo Municipalities says that this problem can not be solved partially, while the Animal Rights Foundation says that placing dogs in shelters is not an adequate solution,

The head of the Association of Kosovo Municipalities, Sazan Ibrahimi, tells KosovaPress that the association he leads is constantly being ignored by the Government by not being invited to meetings related to solving various problems, including that of stray dogs.

“We have held numerous meetings with municipal directors of public services, with former mayors, where the problem of stray dogs was discussed. The common conclusion of the mayors was that this problem can not be solved partially, but there should be unilateral treatment from the central level… Prime Minister Kurti a few days ago held a meeting with various actors who are involved in solving of this issue, but the Association of Kosovo Municipalities this time too was not invited by the central level “, he said.

Elza Ramadani from the Animal Rights Foundation tells KosovaPress that in a meeting with Prime Minister Albin Kurti and the Ministry of Local Government, the latter has created a working group for drafting and budgeting the national strategy, which is expected to be completed in June, while the approval will be for next year.

“We as an organization have been proposing to state institutions and the prime ministry for many years to create a national strategy for the management of dogs with and without owners. Stray dogs come from dogs with owners. If the dog population with owners is well managed, then there will be far fewer dogs on the streets and maybe none at all, within five years, if the sustainable measures as we have proposed are implemented. We have brought that strategy to the prime minister’s desk where he organized a meeting where he invited all relevant actors in this regard to commit each state body to legal responsibilities and improve laws, administrative instructions so that these measures are implemented in a timely and good manner. After the meeting with the Prime Minister, we were also invited by the Ministry of Local Government, which immediately engaged to establish a working group to draft and budget the national strategy. We hope that by June of this year, that budgeted strategy will be submitted and that the government will approve it in 2023”, she said.

Ramadani says that as an organization they are informing people that placing dogs in shelters is not an adequate solution, as such a thing will not stop the breeding of dogs.

“I have said many times in the media and on social networks that we as an organization constantly inform the citizens that the shelter will not solve the problem at all. Even if shelters are set up in each municipality, they will not stop the breeding of dogs on the streets, we will still have dogs on the streets, people will still be bitten, dogs will still be attacked and traumatized, so shelters are just an important link to be met, but not at the moment, sheltering is not the first solution because it will have no effect. The Mayor of Prishtina Rama mentioned this, but he meant the dogs for temporary treatment, the Municipality of Prishtina is initiating the tender procedure for a center for temporary treatment as provided in the administrative instructions and the legislation in force. This center will serve as an outpatient clinic, in the future it can also serve as a shelter, but first, the number of dogs on the streets must be reduced and stabilized”, she said.

Citizen Fehmi Kuleta expresses concern for children, he mantiones the cases where dogs attacked citizens. He also has a call for institutions to find solutions.

“We call on the institutions, the municipality, to find a solution, as young children are endangered the most. I myself was present when they ran towards a child, they almost bitten him, or the pregnant woman, the old man, I myself ran with a stick and scared them. I wonder how our institutions are not thinking about this issue, why the municipality is not finding a solution? The streets are full of stray dogs, this endangers especially small children,” he said.

The same call was made by Leonora Zeqiri, who says that there should be a shelter for the treatment of these dogs.

“The solution to the problem belongs to the Prishtina municipality and other municipalities in Kosovo. There are a lot of stray dogs, but it’s not their fault, we have to commit and deal with them. (Dogs) are and are not dangerous, they are dangerous when they are hungry, they have attacked children. The solution to the problem is us and not the dogs. They are not to blame, we must be more committed so that there are shelters and dogs do not stay on the streets all the time”, she said.

Millions of euros have been spent so far by the government and municipalities of Kosovo for the treatment of stray dogs, but without any success.

Since 2017, the treatment of dogs has been done by the Food and Veterinary Agency (FVA), which had received 1.3 million euros from the then government led by Ramush Haradinaj. The FVA had vaccinated and castrated thousands of stray dogs throughout Kosovo. The result was unsatisfactory. In the end, almost all of the allocated fund was spent and about half of the stray dogs were left untreated.

The Veterinary Law stipulates that municipalities, in accordance with procedures established by the Ministry of Agriculture, must register dogs, conduct annual vaccinations, catch dogs and stray cats if necessary, and establish dog care and cat shelters, as needed.

In the last meeting of the Mayor of Prishtina Përparim Rama with representatives of the EU and non-governmental organizations, a working group was established to draft the action plan and the national strategy for the humane treatment of dogs, which contains ten points: identification and registration of dogs with earrings and microchips, continuous subsidy for castration, sterilization and vaccination of dogs with owners, strict control of breeding and sale of dogs, continuous control of reproduction of stray dogs through the method (Catch, Sterilize, Vaccinate, Set free ), Temporary Treatment Centers (TTPs) and Rescue Centers, introduction of ‘neighborhood caretakers for stray animals’, access control resources – dog food, public awareness campaign, dog park with owners (for socialization and recreation), municipal veterinary inspectors.

The shelter for the treatment of stray dogs is expected to be established in accordance with the initial plan of the municipality, as currently there are only centers for the temporary treatment of animals, which are then released again.

According to police data, during 2020 there were about 28 attacks by stray dogs and 8 by dogs with owners.