Moscow's stray dogs reprieved

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The Independent Online

Moscow's thousands of stray dogs have something to wag their tails about – animal rights activists say the city has dropped a plan to round the dogs up and ship them to a camp far outside the capital.

Animal rights activists and Russian celebrities had been pressuring the city to abandon the plan, which they said would endanger the dogs by placing them in an environment where diseases would run rampant. Some had compared the facility to a concentration camp for dogs.

Natalya Yunitsyna, head of the Hope Bringers charity, said yesterday that the deportation proposal was now off the city's agenda.

"We're very pleased that we've won a small victory here," she said.

The Moscow authorities were expected to endorse the plan yesterday, but the session's minutes, posted online, do not mention the proposal. The Mayor was unavailable for comment, and city hall officials would not confirm the report.

The Russian capital has an estimated 26,000 stray dogs. The controversial plan would have removed the dogs by sending them to a camp in the Yaroslavl region, some 150 miles north-east of the city. But activists staged a campaign to oppose the deportation, collecting nearly 2,000 signatures of prominent artists and musicians against the plan.

Moscow has spent some £28m on dog shelters, sterilisation, and other programmes to deal with the city's stray population.

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