Target: Viktor Yanukovich, President of Ukraine
Goal: Punish hobby hunters who kill stray dogs
A group of Kievan hunters has made a hobby of killing stray dogs. Congregating on an Internet forum, these men exchange tips on how to prepare dog poison and where to find their victims. In a city where adequate funding for dog shelters is missing, the animals are falling prey to these hobby hunters who face no fines or prosecution for their cruel killings.
Citing the need to promote public safety, the men claim that they are merely whittling down a large population of vicious beasts, about 18,000 in total, that haphazardly attack and bite the residents of Kiev. While the proliferation of stray dogs may indeed pose a threat to the city’s population, killing them is not the solution. Even if some of the hunters dare claim that their victims’ death by poison is instantaneous and harmless, this still doesn’t change the dire fact that they are arbitrarily depriving a dog of his right to live for absolutely no good reason.
It is true that there could be a debate about the value of putting down certain highly dangerous dogs that could inflict serious harm on the people who unexpectedly encounter them on a city street. However, the arbitrary decision to eradicate masses of strays transcends all bounds of good sense and decency. As intelligent, sensitive creatures adapted for cohabitation with humans, dogs do not deserve to be indiscriminately murdered just because they might be dangerous.
The city of Kiev would be well-advised to adopt a more humane approach that would either gather a higher percentage of these strays in dog shelters or at the very least implement a broad neutering program to halt the population growth. (Vier Pfoten, an Austrian-based animal rights NGO previously charged with the task of neutering the animals, has abandoned its activities in the city because the police have not investigated the death threats that were issued against them.)
While successful efforts to reduce the presence of strays in Kiev may make its residents feel less of a need to go after the dogs on their own, that won’t discourage everyone. That is why it is so important that Ukraine penalize the hunters who have made a pastime out of slaughtering innocent animals. It may take some time to put in place a program that effectively deals with the city’s large stray population, but the government should immediately adopt and seriously enforce laws that criminalize the killings.
These immediate actions are so vital because it is absolutely unacceptable to let this kind of outrageous behavior go unpunished. A society that doesn’t protest against and punish the callous slaying of vulnerable animals such as dogs might just tolerate cruelty against other vulnerable segments of the population, be they women, children, or ethnic and religious minorities.
Dear Viktor Yanukovich, President of Ukraine
We ask you to stop the cruel and senseless murders of dogs being carried out in the city of Kiev by enforcing tough penalties against the perpetrators. Even though the large population of strays that roams around the city of Kiev may indeed seem like a problem that needs to be taken care of, there is never an excuse for ordinary citizens to shoot and poison them. The Ukrainian State cannot allow brutality to take hold so that a set of vigilantes randomly kill innocent animals under the pretext that they may pose a threat to public safety. It should always be up to the government to handle animal-related safety issues and never up to the citizens to serve a lethal dose of justice to a creature that may not have even done anything wrong.
By doing nothing about these killings, not only are you looking away while the intelligent, sensitive animals are being needlessly slaughtered, you are also tolerating a penchant for cold-blooded violence within your population. Tough punitive measures against dog killers would send the message that you can’t just hurt, wound, or kill a creature simply because you find it to be a nuisance or a threat. To promote a society where the values of compassion and sympathy reign supreme over those of hostility and wanton aggression, the Ukrainian state must take action to mete out harsh punishments to these so-called hobby hunters.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: akk_rus via Flickr