Moldova is a poor tiny post-Soviet country bordered by Romania and Ukraine with the population of about 3 million. There is no animal welfare legislation or national animal protection agency, which means that all animal-related issues are taken care of by the population itself. Be it volunteers or very few small private shelters that rescue and try to rehome stray or abandoned animals or local municipal departments appointed to “clean” the streets from dogs and cats.
Needless to say, that most of the current practises used to regulate the number of stray animals are barbaric, to say the least.
Imagine being woken up by blood-chilling screams followed by gun shots and sounds of broken bones? When our volunteer Ana was a little kid living in her native Moldova, that was precisely what would happen every two or three months. Ana remembers that she never dared to look out of the window, afraid, that the world was coming to an end. Walking to school in the morning she and her friends would see traces of blood on the ground and notice that their beloved stray neighbourhood dogs would disappear.
Asking the adults about what was going on the response was always the same “There is nothing we can do”.
That was happening 20 years ago. That’s how local municipal services were “cleaning” the streets, when the amount of stray animals born from unneutered pets and abandoned by careless owners would reach a certain “visible” number. Neutering wasn’t an opinion back then. Neither was it promoted as being an only effective humane way to reduce stray population.
Shortsighted government officials busy with “real human problems” didn’t bother to come up with any other way of regulating the increasing number of stray animals. But obviously, despite these chilling massacres, the amount of four-legged tramps would only grow, as this approach was focusing on fighting the consequences, instead of the reason.
20 years passed since than. But not much has changed. This is still happening throughout Moldova. There are no municipal shelters, no state mass neutering campaigns, no regulatory body to oversee the even basic concepts of animal welfare, no attention to the problem from the government. However, one thing did change. Other cruel methods have been found. Now strays are being poisoned and die atrocious agonizing death under the eyes of Moldovan children, while thousands of new puppies and kittens born from unneutered cats and dogs join the stray army every day.
What are we doing about it.
Human Behaviour ChangeIn order to foster a more compassionate and responsible future generation our work in Moldova is currently focused on implementing Humane Education courses in as many schools throughout the country as possible. Updates on this important work will follow.
- Legally registering animal anaesthetic.
Currently, there is no officially registered anaesthetic for veterinary use in Moldova. The licence to be sold in the country for the last anaesthetic expired a few years ago and nobody bothered to renew it. The government didn’t do it since animal welfare has never been a priority and local commercial agents didn’t start the process, because they felt it was too lengthy to gather all medical protocols and certificates to apply for the licence renewal. As a result, animals, who have no voice, are suffering. The guidelines provided by the government suggest the use of miorelaxants in veterinary medicine, as the use of human anaesthetics requires a licence, that is not extended to their veterinary colleagues. The use of miorelaxants affects skeletal muscle function and the muscle tone. It alleviates just some of the pain symptoms, so when animals are anesthetized to be treated or neutered, they can still feel the pain. Yet, despite its blatant cruelty, the practice is approved by the government bodies, that are supposed to be protecting animal welfare. Since 2016, we have been working on registering a French animals anaesthetic in Moldova and finally opening a direct import of this important veterinary medicine component. However, after mountains of bureaucracy and endless negotiations, the agent declared the cost to be too high and the talks have stopped until we find someone who agrees to work with us on Improving veterinary standards in the country.
- Spaying and neutering campaign
There is no culture of spaying or neutering in Moldova. The empathy levels are very low, especially among the population of smaller villages. People themselves are struggling to survive, so caring for their household or street animals isn’t number 1 priority in their agenda. We have agreed with the local council of the city of Ialoveni (next to the capital city Chișinău) to run a Free Neutering project. The administration allocated an empty garage for the project and a veterinary surgeon from Chișinău has agreed to come twice a month to perform procedures. He is one of the two doctors in the country to have a licence to use human anaethetic on animals, so that they can feel no pain. However, the project had to be put on hold after various attempts, as we simply couldn’t find anyone to assist in coordinating the project locally. There is no culture of volunteering either. The common excuses are lack of time, lack of finance, lack of passion to change the things etc..
After a thorough research and consideration, Ana – our project coordinator for Moldova, who was born there and grew up in Russia and the UK, realised that, in order to start successfully working and achieve actual results we has to start from roots. Educating the population on the importance of neutering and responsible treatment of animals, lobbying the humane animal welfare legislation and creating a culture of volunteering and animal advocacy in the region are out main priorities, as of now.This new understanding has implications on how we decide to work in the region, as our resources, both financial and human, are limited.
We are starting by building a strong Humane Education base as part of the school curriculum in one of the largest cities of Moldova and the local administration seems to be very open to it and supportive of the idea. If everything goes as planned, we will start in January 2018. We are currently preparing a project for the Ministry of Education to be reviewed at their next education and budget planning session.