Killing of stray cats and dogs in the lead-up to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi

27 February 2014     


Andrea Zanoni (ALDE)

Further to my Written Question E-001678/2012 of 10 February 2012 on the mass killing of stray cats and dogs by the Ukrainian authorities ahead of the 2012 UEFA European Football Championship, I should like to draw the Commission’s attention to the equally abhorrent extermination campaign carried out by the Russian authorities in the run-up to the Sochi Winter Olympic Games.

According to press reports, in the months leading up to the Olympic Games, the Russian authorities systematically exterminated thousands of stray animals — in particular dogs, but also cats –, speeding up operations in the days immediately prior to the start of the games. Members of the public have joined animal welfare groups and NGOs in condemning this campaign. The Russian authorities used the same justification for their actions as the Ukrainians, namely the need to rid the city’s streets of stray animals — or ‘biological trash’ as they have been called — as quickly as possible, in order to protect Sochi’s reputation in the eyes of athletes, the media, officials and tourists from around the world travelling to the city for the games(1).

However, according to the World Society for the Protection of Animals, in addition to being cruel, mass extermination is ineffective. The only way of properly controlling stray animal populations is to implement long-term vaccination and sterilisation programmes(2).

It should be noted that Beijing carried out a similar campaign in the run-up to the 2008 Summer Olympics.

In its answer to my written question on the extermination campaign in Ukraine, the Commission said that the Head of the EU Delegation to Ukraine had written to the Ukrainian authorities to raise concerns about the treatment of stray dogs in the country and to request information on measures taken by the Ukrainian Government to address these concerns.

1. Has the Commission written a similar letter to the Russian authorities strongly condemning this cruel practice?

2. What other steps will it take to put an end to barbaric campaigns of this kind, which are becoming standard practice in the lead-up to major international events, such as sporting competitions?


28 March 2014


Answer given by Mr Borg on behalf of the Commission

The Honourable Member is invited to refer to the answers to written questions E‐006543/2011, E-007161/2011, E-002062/2012 and E-005276/2013(1) which address the issues of stray dogs and of dog population management.

This issue is not governed by EU rules.

International guidelines for the control of stray dog populations have been adopted by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).