Alexander Hirczy is the manager of a veterinary clinic based in Austria. He is part of the “Stop Killing Dogs
” campaign, which brings together animal rights activists throughout Europe, including in multiple Ukrainian cities where Euro 2012 matches will be held.
The killings began about a year ago. I’ve been told that they started after the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) sent a letter to local UEFA authorities in Ukraine saying that the dogs were a problem. The letter didn’t say that the solution to the problem was killing the dogs; it just said that they couldn’t be in the streets anymore. Local authorities could have reacted in a number of ways – putting them in shelters, finding them homes, etc. But instead they decided to kill the dogs.
People immediately began protesting, but there were very few of them. The Euro 2012 is a very big deal for Ukraine, so when the authorities saw that only a handful of people were demonstrating, they didn’t take it seriously - and despite their promises to stop the killings, they still haven’t.
From the reports we’ve heard, local governments are hiring professional dog hunters to exterminate Ukraine’s dogs. They kill them in a number of ways. Sometimes they use needles or poison; some people even shoot them. They kill the dogs indiscriminately. They don’t care if they’re stray dogs or house pets – as long as they’re in the street, that’s all that matters.
For the last few weeks there has been a rumour going around that there is a rabies outbreak in Ukraine
, and that’s why they have to kill the dogs. But of course this isn’t true – it’s just an excuse.
We heard bout what was happening and decided to take action by starting this campaign. It’s important to protect these dogs because what’s happening to them is a shame for European football. How can you sit and watch a match knowing that there are professional hunters killing these dogs because of football?”