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News 15 Sep 14

Sarajevo Plagued by Stray Dog Attacks

With media full of reports of dogs attacking city residents, the authorities have promised to get the strays off the streets, but it’s not clear that their plan will work.

Elvira M. Jukic
BIRN
Sarajevo

The Sarajevo Canton Ministry of Planning and Environment Protection said on Friday that a new dog-catching service would be set up to remove the estimated thousands of stray dogs from the streets of the capital.

“We have to react and we are starting a crew to catch the dangerous dogs,” said minister Zlatko Petrovic.

“Our goal is to remove dangerous dogs from the streets,” he said.

The Sarajevo public services company Rad will be tasked with setting up the dog-catching service but it is not clear where the strays will be taken because the dog shelter in Praca, outside the city, is said to be already full with over 500 dogs.

Rough estimates have suggested that there could be around 10,000 stray dogs in Sarajevo Canton, and the laws on animal protection do not allow euthanasia.

The number of attacks by stray dogs in Sarajevo is estimated at around a thousand over the past year, and a reported incident in which a woman in the Ilidza municipality was bitten by a stray dog on Friday again put the issue on the media agenda.

Dogs Trust, a British charity with a branch in Sarajevo, is meanwhile launching a campaign of castration and vaccination of strays on Monday in a bid to lower numbers and reduce the danger of attack.

Trained catchers will bring in the stray dogs so they can be “sterilised, vaccinated against frenzy, cleaned of parasites which make them infectious and micro-chipped and registered in a database”, the Dog Trust said.

Sanja Bianculli of the Dog Trust told Balkan Insight that there are other measures that the authorities must undertake to solve the problem of aggressive stray dogs.

“Mass sterilisations are necessary because they are the most efficient dog population management measure, but they are not sufficient in this situation,” Bianculli said.

“The authorities need to implement other legal measures from the law [governing treatment of stray dogs]; that is, setting up shelters and hygiene services, removing aggressive, infected and sick dogs from the streets,” she added.

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