Russia has engaged in a nationwide dog extermination campaign, encouraging contracted “dog hunters” to poison and kill strays, according to reports throughout the country.
The non-government affiliated Moscow Times reports that, at first, rumors floated around social media that the nationwide killing campaign was simply untrue. However, news agencies in the cities of Yekaterinburg Chelyabinsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Murmansk, Yaroslavl, St. Petersburg, and Vladivostok have all reported that dogs have been poisoned to death in their areas.
“We saw [the dog] at 9 in the morning, but thought that she was playing and just stumbling around. Then an hour later we looked and she was having convulsions,” a resident of Nizhny Tagil told TagilCity.ru. Another local site, VladNews.ru, reported on Wednesday that its residents had seen dead dog carcasses throughout the city.
In October, The Moscow Times reported that papers located in Russia’s eastern cities found instances where stray dogs were poisoned hundreds at a time, leading them to die “slowly and painfully.” “Dogs have been dying in the center and on the outskirts of the town, their contorted bodies have been found along the seashore and in grass undergrowth near buildings,” read one local report.
Earlier in the year, a man in the far-eastern city of Vladivostok was found to have poisoned as many as 1,000 stray dogs.
Before the 2014 olympic games in Sochi, several media reports indicated that Russian authorities had been engaged in a mass-killing campaign against its stray dog population. Animal rights activists found that the Russian government was contracting a company for “trapping and gathering” of the animals. “In Russia, you can abuse animals and it’s not a crime,” explained a lawyer who advocated for legislation protecting animals from brutality.