Gagik Aghbalyan

Rescuing Stray Dogs in Armenia: Killing Remains the Main Method of Control

In Armenia, killing is still the main method of controlling the number of stray dogs, whereas the civilized world has been sterilizing them for quite some time.

Hetq sent a request to town community mayors to get data about how much money was spent in 2015-2017 to kill, sterilize or control the number of stray dogs.

The Hrazdan Municipality reported it killed 275 stray dogs in the past four years and received 1.297 million drams in state funding in 2015-2018 to control their numbers.

The Etchmiadzin Municipality says it did nothing on the issue in 2015-2017.

Armenia lacks a comprehensive animal cruelty law

The Pro Paws Animal Welfare Charity UK-RA has made proposals for legislative solutions to the Armenian government.

Pro Paws Representative Nare Aramyan told Hetq that there is no systematic solution to the problem of stray animals in Armenia.

There is no law regulating how animals should be treated, only a few separate articles in different codes, like the Code of Administrative Offenses.

Nare says the issue of stray animals should be regulated by law and state agencies.

She believes a government-affiliated body should be formed, involving the Ministries of Health, Emergency Situations, Nature Protection and the Police.

"Over the years, we have worked on a legislative bill. Today, all the ministries are ready to cooperate with animal welfare organizations. At the professional level, it will be possible to change both the legislation and its application, and it will be possible to switch to strategic programs. We have provided the initial skeleton of the law where we suggest all the provisions to regulate the relationships with animals,” says Nare.

Karineh Panosyan manages educational projects in schools, which is one of the programs of Pro Paws.

The organization has proposed a school program of animal care, with teaching materials, to the Ministry of Education and Science The goal is to make environmental safety and nature protection classes mandatory at least in elementary schools in Armenia.

Dingo Team - first aid and rehab center

A few weeks ago, Dingo Team NGO representatives left for Chambarak village in Gegharkunik Province, following an emergency call that a village resident had tied his two dogs to a car and dragged them through the village.

One of the guides accompanying  tourists in the village videotaped the scene and sent it to the NGO. The villager was fined 230,000 drams - 200,000 drams for driving  without license plates and 30,000 drams for cruelty towards dogs.

During its ten years of operation, Dingo Team NGO has taken care of, treated and helped to adopt a minimum of 2,500 dogs.

Upon receiving alerts about wounded dogs, NGO staffers  respond and take care of the animals until someone adopts them. There are animals that have been taken care of for four years at the organization's rehab center.

The founder of the organization, Ovsanna Hovsepyan, says that some of the dogs living in the rehabilitation center have been run over, while others have become victims of human cruelty.

"Our rehab center has 80 spots for dogs in need of emergency treatment. People apply to us when there is a wounded animal that needs medical care. After the treatment, the animal gets sterilized and goes to the dwelling. After the final recovery, they are sent back to the courtyard where they were picked up. If they don’t have a place to live, they stay here until somebody adopts them,” says Ovsanna.

She says past governments did nothing to solve the issue. For years, rumors talked about 46,000 stray dogs in Yerevan. Hovsepyan says it’s only 3-5,000 and that the number was exaggerated to make more money on sterilization.

"We are now working on legislative regulations. The current planned fines are quite low. Together with MP Lena Nazaryan, we are now drafting an article that covers all aspects of the issue, from who can breed dogs to punishment for cruel treatment and including criminal penalties and fines. In December, the draft law will be submitted to the National Assembly,” Ovsanna says.

Elen Papyan, head of the Dingo Team's adoption unit concludes on a positive note, saying more and more stray dogs are adopted every year in Armenia.