Screen grab of a mass dog grave.
 
Dog lovers thought they had won their battle in November when the Ukrainian government buckled to pressure and ordered local authorities to stop killing stray dogs as part of an alleged campaign to clean up streets ahead of the Euro 2012 championship this summer. However, our Observer says there is evidence the killings have continued.
 
Ukraine, which is set to co-host the Euro 2012 in June, quickly attracted the wrath of animal rights groups after reports surfaced that Ukraine’s stray dogs were being killed as part of a beautification campaign in preparation for the tournament.  
 
In response, Ukraine’s environment minister issued a statement on November 17 banning the killings and urging mayors throughout the country to build shelters for stray dogs as an alternative to executing them. However animal rights groups claim the ban has not been enforced. The organisers of the “Stop Killing Dogs” campaign provided us with the video below, which they say was filmed in Ukraine's capital Kiev on January 6 – nearly two months after Ukraine’s environment minister ordered an end to the killings.
 
WARNING: THIS VIDEO CONTAINS DISTURBING IMAGES
 
Mass dog grave. Video posted on YouTube by STOPKILLINGDOGSEM012.
 
FRANCE 24’s Observers Team has made repeated attempts to contact Ukraine’s Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources for a reaction to allegations the killings have continued despite the November 17 ban, but so far has not received a response.

“Sometimes they’re killed with needles or poison; some people even shoot them”

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?”