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Dog-lovers in Russia launch fight to help strays from savage cull in Siberia's Ulan-Ude – The Mirror US

A recent reversal in Russian law allows the culling of stray dogs and volunteers are now desperately trying to secure the animals’ safety by sending them as far away as possible
The race is on to save thousands of stray dogs in the far eastern Russian region of Siberia after local authorities agreed to cull the animals.
At least 18 dogs have been put down so far in the town of UIan-Ude, near the Mongolian border, but 600 dogs have been sent safely on trains either to new homes or private shelters as far west as Moscow, St Petersburg and Kazan. Canine-loving volunteers have pulled together to ensure that as many of the animals as possible can be saved following the controversial decision by Buryatia leaders to kill them.
Regular reports are made almost monthly of people being bitten in Ulan-Ude, which has a population of around 500,000, by stray dogs. And while the killing of these types of dogs was common practice in the area for many years, Russia's parliament passed a new law that came into force in 2020 and required dogs to instead be caught, sterilized, vaccinated, and then set free.
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The act, however, was unpopular with Buryatia's residents, who were concerned that the dogs would end up gathering in packs once they were back out on the streets and cause a danger to people.
Volunteer Stella Ovsoyan told BBC Russian that lot of "good-hearted people" have so far responded to the efforts of saving the town's remaining dogs. She added: "They ask us to send a dog, any dog, a random one, no matter what it looks like. Their goal is simply to save a soul from death."
Once a stay dog has been found, they are put on a post carriage in the care of the train conductor. The temperature at Ulan-Ude's main station is freezing -20C at Ulan-Ude's, yet dozens of people stand there with dogs on leashes or in their arms waiting for the next train
Russian MPs last year reversed the law banning culls and allowed regions to decide for themselves how to deal with stray dogs issues. Buryatia went back to its old ways of culling and last week eight dogs were put down by lethal injection.
Stella said that these dogs were not disabled and only needed couple or weeks to recover and receive proper treatment before they could then be adopted and taken off the streets. Activists are keen to point at that the overall problem of stray dogs is rooted ultimately in neglect.
The head of one of Buryatia's animal foundations, Daria Zaytseva, said: "People take a dog for one summer and then dump it. Or they take their dog's litter and throw the puppies out on the street." While activists also say that people are not held accountable for behavior's like this by local governments and, because of this, the amount of stray dogs in the area will only increase.
Each dog that is taken away to a better life on a train costs roughly 5,000 roubles ($56) and hundreds have so far been rescued. But an estimated 2,000 more are still waiting to be saved and the activists are grateful for the financial support they have been receiving that enables them to carry out the work.
Still, volunteer Stella admitted that it's hard to predict how much impact it will all have on Ulan-Ude's stray dogs and that sometimes she wants to cry and give it up. She added: "I come to the shelter and I have to choose. I send this dog [to another region], but the other three remain here, and we don't know what will happen to them. It's very hard. But then I get a message saying hello from the new owners of a dog we've already sent to live it's best life – and that's great."
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