07MOSCOW2250, GIMME SHELTER: STRAYS FIND NEW HOME IN MOSCOW

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW2250 2007-05-15 13:26 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO5646
RR RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD
DE RUEHMO #2250/01 1351326
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 151326Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0242
INFO RUEHZN/EST COLLECTIVE
RUEHYG/AMCONSUL YEKATERINBURG 2443
RUEHVK/AMCONSUL VLADIVOSTOK 2120

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 002250 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR OES/ENV, EUR/RUS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: SENV SOCI PGOV RS
SUBJECT: GIMME SHELTER: STRAYS FIND NEW HOME IN MOSCOW 
 
 
MOSCOW 00002250  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
1. SUMMARY:  Strays roaming Moscow now have an upscale alternative. 
The International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) recently opened a 
new Stray Dog and Cat clinic in northern Moscow that is intended to 
work in tandem with an existing mobile vet clinic.  This represents 
the first such combination of mobile and stationary surgical 
facilities dedicated to animals in Russia.  Stray dogs continue to 
be a gnawing and increasingly visible problem in Moscow, so it is 
not surprising that city authorities are strong advocates for this 
IFAW project.  END SUMMARY. 
 
Background: Stray Dogs in Moscow 
-------------------------------- 
 
2.  By rough estimates, Moscow is home to some 40,000 stray dogs. 
Permanent fixtures outside almost every metro station, packs of 
these animals are a common sight throughout the city.  Many of the 
strays suffer from inhumane treatment, hunger, and disease.  Dog 
attacks occur regularly.  Although Moscow authorities officially 
switched from a catch-and-kill policy to spay/neutering four years 
ago in a move towards more humane animal management, significant 
shortcomings remain in the city's efforts to control the population. 
 Official policy states that all stray dogs should be sterilized, 
inserted with a microchip recording their processing, kept in a 
shelter for 10 days, and then released (at a cost of 4,500 rubles, 
or roughly $175 dollars, per dog).  However, the population of 
strays in Moscow has continued to grow in recent years -- suggesting 
faulty sterilization methods or, more likely, lax implementation of 
official policy. 
 
New Stray Animal Clinic Opens in Northern Moscow 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
3.  The future may be less bleak, however.  IFAW officially opened 
its new Stray Dog and Cat clinic, the Community Led Animal Welfare 
(CLAW) center, in northern Moscow on April 25.  EST attended the 
opening ceremony, which drew more than 80 guests -- including 
veterinarians, journalists, and state officials.  Speakers at the 
event included Oleg Mitvol, the Deputy Director of Rosprirodnadzor 
(the Federal Nature Management Supervision Service), Vera 
Stepanenko, the Head of the Environment Commission of the Moscow 
City Duma, and Fred O'Regan, President and CEO of IFAW.  The 
administrative head of Koptevo, the municipal district where the new 
center is located, also attended the event and praised its positive 
community impact. 
 
4.  Although there are currently eight animal shelters operating in 
northern Moscow, IFAW's new CLAW center is the first in the city to 
focus on comprehensive community based animal care -- promoting 
public education and working to find sustainable homes for stray 
animals.  The center will provide spay/neutering services, 
vaccinations and other basic veterinary care for stray animals and 
pets of low-income Moscow residents, training for Russian 
veterinarians on the latest surgical methods, and community 
education on animal treatment and welfare.  The center, which can 
accommodate up to 50 animals at a time, is equipped with a large dog 
training and exercise area, new dog pens, modern surgical 
facilities, conference/class space for educational instruction, and 
a specially equipped mini bus for transporting the animals.  The 
center's surgical facilities will be among the first in Moscow to 
use only approved medications (illicit drugs are widely used for 
veterinary surgery throughout Russia due to the high costs of 
officially approved veterinary narcotics) and are outfitted with gas 
anesthesia -- a rarity in Russia and an important educational 
resource for animal professionals. 
 
Mobile Vet Clinic Provides Additional Capacity 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
5.  IFAW's mobile vet clinic (TESS), established five years ago and 
the first of its kind in Moscow, will work in tandem with the new 
CLAW shelter.  This represents the first such combination of mobile 
and stationary surgery facilities dedicated to animals in Russia.  A 
fully equipped veterinary lab also outfitted with gas anesthesia, 
the mobile clinic is set up to provide spay/neutering services as 
well as basic veterinary care.  Over the past five years the mobile 
clinic has treated more than 12,000 animals and was featured on a 
NTV television special.  Mobile vet services are a primary component 
of IFAW's international efforts because they provide the flexibility 
to target animal overpopulation and provide animal welfare education 
where it is most needed, often in low income areas.  IFAW hopes this 
arrangement will serve as a model for Moscow and other regions of 
Russia. 
 
Community Education is Key to Clinic's Efforts 
--------------------------------------------- - 
 
6.  Community education is an integral component of IFAW's efforts 
to change public attitudes toward animal welfare, care, and 
treatment.  In addition to its vaccination and sterilization duties, 
 
MOSCOW 00002250  002.2 OF 002 
 


the new CLAW center will serve as a hub for community animal welfare 
education programs and expanded professional training programs. 
IFAW plans to educate schoolchildren and community members about 
proper animal care, provide information on keeping  pets in city 
apartments, train veterinarians and animal management specialists, 
and promote the purchase of dog breeds known to make good pets.  The 
TESS mobile clinic provides the additional capability of traveling 
directly to veterinary clinics or high need communities, where 
direct animal care can be combined with civic education.  The mobile 
clinic currently educates veterinarians and interns associated with 
Agrosystem - 2, a subsidiary of the Timiryazev Agricultural Academy 
in Moscow. 
 
City Authorities Provide Essential Support 
----------------------------------------- 
 
7.  IFAW financed the bulk of the new shelter's construction costs 
and will fund its day-to-day operations, but Moscow city authorities 
provided crucial support.  They contributed limited construction 
funds, supplied the electricity and water connections for the new 
building, and most significantly provided a plot of land for the 
center in a specially zoned nature area.  Although the current lease 
is for only one year rather than 49 as expected, in a side 
conversation at the opening ceremony Oleg Mitvol asked Masha 
Vorontsova, Director of IFAW Russia, to draft a letter requesting 
resolution of the situation and promised that he would personally 
talk with Mayor Luzhkov to secure the long-term lease.  This 
encouraging collaboration among the administration of the northern 
Koptevo district of Moscow, the administrators of specialized city 
territories, and the ecological, veterinarian, and sanitary services 
of Moscow reflects strong support from government officials and city 
administrators for IFAW's community outreach programs. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
8.  The opening of the new shelter bodes well for Moscow's nascent 
efforts to manage its stray animal population.  Muscovites have 
always been dog-lovers (NOTE: The smaller the apartment, the larger 
the dog. END NOTE) but they have been slow to adopt humane methods 
to control the burgeoning stray population.  The increasing number 
of pet owners in the city reflects the growing middle class, which 
means the new center's community outreach programs are well 
positioned to generate further grassroots support for humane animal 
care.  Vera Stepanenko observed that "many, but not all" of her 
colleagues at the City Duma share her views on the importance of 
humane animal treatment.  This underscores both the substantial 
government support IFAW has already generated and the ongoing 
importance of its civic education and community outreach efforts. 
 
BURNS

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