Open Letter to Mayor of Minsk N.A. Ladutko

On September 16, 2010 Chairman of Public Association for Animal Protection «EGIDA» N.A. Belianova submitted a letter to Minsk City Executive Committee addressed to N.A. Ladutko with a request to fix another appointment with the city’s mayor in order to seek mutually acceptable ways of solving the problem of stray animals in Minsk. While the city’s authorities believe that Minsk Municipal Enterprise (animal control organization) «Fauna Goroda» has already solved the problem of stray pets, Public Association for Animal Protection «EGIDA», volunteers and people who are not indifferent to this issue fully realize it is far from being so.

We hope that this time the city’s authorities will try to avoid dealing with this problem superficially, will enter into a dialogue with the general public and find an opportunity to allocate a building for Public Association for Animal Protection «EGIDA» to open the first official animal shelter (asylum for stray animals) in Minsk.
However noble and selfless the public is, it is impossible to solve the problem without governmental support. It’s high time our state clearly defined its standpoint and showed its attitude to public opinion.

We will keep you informed about the following issues: how the city’s authorities will react to our proclamation, what their response will be like and what results the meeting with N.A. Ladutko will bring.

The text of the open letter
Public Association for Animal Protection «EGIDA»

To Chairman of
Minsk City Executive Committee
Nikolai Ladutko

September 16, 2010, ref. № 51

On the foundation of the first official
shelter for stray animals in Minsk

Dear Nikolai Alexandrovich!

Public Association for Animal Protection «EGIDA» appealed to the President of the Republic of Belarus (Letter № 70 dd. December 16, 2009) with a request to render assistance in resolving the acute problem of stray animals. Foundation of an official shelter for stray animals on the territory of Minsk City could become the first significant step. This problem has been causing public response for a long time: there are press publications, the subject is regularly covered on television, more than 3000 (three thousand) citizens’ signatures were collected in support of a shelter without conducting a special campaign. To prove the fact that a large number of appeals in support of opening a shelter in Minsk sent to higher authorities do not reach the addressee, the article «Where do petitions submitted by Belarusian citizens disappear?» is attached to the letter.

Within the scope of this message, Head of the Presidential Administration of the Republic of Belarus has encharged Minsk City Executive Committee (Letter dd. February 5, 2010, ref. № 15/535-281, 511-20, 760-53) with a task to «fix a meeting with you (Nataliya Belianova) to work out mutually acceptable methods of cooperation between the government and public organizations in the sphere of animal protection and welfare». Considering the results of the meeting between representatives of Minsk Municipal Housing Maintenance and Utilities Board, Municipal Enterprise (animal control organization) «Fauna Goroda» and Chairman of Public Association for Animal Protection «EGIDA» Nataliya Belianova, held on February 18, 2010, unfortunately, it cannot be said that the task given by the Head of Administration was fulfilled. The meeting was formal in nature and did not lead to any results: none of the questions raised by us had been discussed. The solution to the problem of stray animals had not been found, the decision to organize the first official shelter (asylum) for stray animals had not been made.

From 2007 to 2009 Minsk Municipal Enterprise «Fauna Goroda» followed the principle of humane treatment of animals. In those days many of them found a shelter at «Fauna Goroda», which helped the animals to survive and settle in new homes. The organization’s activities were open to the general public, and this fact was of a special value due to the peculiarities of the organization’s work (namely, it was associated with the necessity to make hard decisions on animal euthanasia, which is directly connected with the moral principles of the society at large). Despite the optimistic figures quoted by the new administration of «Fauna Goroda» (its directors Tamashevsky, Lipnitsky), one may arrive at a conclusion that recently Minsk Municipal Enterprise «Fauna Goroda» has abandoned its aim of finding new owners for stray animals and, as we see it, has turned into a ‘slaughter house’. To prove this we can provide the following statistics: a huge proportion of animals are ‘bought out’ by public associations and volunteers. Volunteers of Public Association for Animal Protection «EGIDA» alone have rescued more than 500 dogs from «Fauna Goroda» within one year and a half! All in all, within the period specified, Public Association for Animal Protection «EGIDA» and its volunteers (there are 80 of them at the moment) have given shelter to 1218 animals, out of which 841 animals have already found new families.

The situation with cats is much worse though. «ZebraMedio» Organization has signed a contract with «Fauna Goroda» enabling the former to take away practically all the captured cats. When Public Association for Animal Protection «EGIDA» made a query as regards the number of cats rescued by the volunteers of «ZebraMedio», Municipal Enterprise «Fauna Goroda» refused to provide any information. In their reports, «Fauna Goroda» mentions LLC «ZebraMedio» as the animals’ new owner, but «ZebraMedio» actually performs the functions of «Fauna Goroda», providing a temporary shelter to the rescued animals and trying to find new owners for them in the meantime. It becomes obvious that these statistics are disclosed by Minsk Municipal Enterprise «Fauna Goroda» just for the sake of appearance, and if we subtract the number of animals rescued by «EGIDA», volunteers and «ZebraMedio», the real figures will be less optimistic. However, «Fauna Goroda» does have an opportunity to carry out its activities in a humane way: they have a building at their disposal which was constructed at the taxpayers’ expense, they have a staff whose salaries are paid from these taxes as well, the money needed for capturing and keeping animals also comes from the budget. Apart from this, «Fauna Goroda» somehow manages to additionally charge local Housing and Utilities Administrations for rendering catchers’ services by contracts, and the new owners of the animals have to compensate the expenses associated with animal keeping.

Thus, Municipal Enterprise «Fauna Goroda» actually kills the animals at the expense of the taxpayers (pet owners pay ‘dog taxes’). Despite all this, the organization shifts responsibility for performing its main and most expensive function of fixing stray pets up with new families on volunteers and public associations, that provide the animals with medical treatment, sterilize, vaccinate them, open up private animal shelters unofficially and find new owners for the pets. All this is carried our without governmental support.

This probably means that the statistics provided by Municipal Enterprise «Fauna Goroda» are to be looked upon from a different angle. Then the necessity to open a shelter (an asylum for stray animals) will become obvious.

One should pay special attention to the fact that all the above-mentioned statements can be supported by evidence. Full truth about the activities of Municipal Enterprise «Fauna Goroda», which can shock common people, hasn’t been revealed so far. The effort made by the administration of «Fauna Goroda» to accuse Public Association «EGIDA» of ‘capitalizing’ on stray animals is just a ploy invented to distract the public attention from the enterprise’s activities.
Public Association for Animal Protection «EGIDA» has never tried to initiate a conflict or absolve itself of its responsibility to fix stray animals up with new families. Instead, it is appealing to the state and Minsk municipal authorities for help, because a public association taking its duties responsibly cannot handle such grave problems without governmental support.

One of them is associated with the absence of legal base requisite for the organization of animal shelters in the existing real estate units of Minsk. The second problem is connected with the fact that estate property in Minsk is quiet expensive, and locating animal shelters out-of-town entails wasting time and money on volunteers’ daily trips to feed, vaccinate and treat animals. The building that Public Association «EGIDA» attempted to claim a year ago in order to organize an animal shelter is still empty: it was bleached and painted but it didn’t get a worthy use (at the moment only cardboard dwellers inhabit it). Public Association «EGIDA» addressed the owner of the real estate unit – «Minsk Cooperative Society of Recyclable Resources», but there was no answer. At the same time volunteers, who did not get any help from the authorities, are collecting money for a house to be used as an animal shelter. Apparently, there is no chance of getting a considerable sum of money, and, as a result, only a small house out of the city will be affordable. This means that volunteers, who spend their own time and money on taking care of the animals that have become homeless through people’s fault, have to waste extra money, time and effort. Consequently, this project is destined to fail, inevitably resulting in waste of money.

Municipal authorities could have offered assistance and supported the movement that can strengthen our country’s reputation as that of a modern European developing country. It doesn’t require large financial investments since Public Association «EGIDA» and volunteers are still willing to provide food, medical treatment and care for the animals. Public Association takes responsibility for finding new owners for animals from the shelter. Citizens of Minsk don’t want to put up with the fact that killing of captured animals remains the only solution to the problem. Therefore, they are waiting for real help from the authorities in opening an official animal shelter and allocating a real estate unit for this purpose.

We are sure that this assistance will be a major step towards solving the problem of stray animals, will spur our country’s authority to rise and, undoubtedly, will build greater confidence and mutual understanding between the city authorities and people. Organizing the first official shelter for stray animals can become a good reason for the citizens to be grateful to the authorities. Moreover, it can become a role model for other cities of Belarus.

In connection with the above-mentioned, Public Association for Animal Protection «EGIDA» and volunteers are asking you personally to fix another appointment with our representatives in order to reach a mutually acceptable decision.

    Chairman of Public Association for Animal Protection «EGIDA»
N.A. Belianova   

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