Race to rescue stray dogs in Russia after new euthanasia law

Scooped up off the streets, vaccinated, sterilised and then released into familiar surroundings.

This was the method the Ananda shelter, the largest in Russia's eastern Buryatia region, had established for dealing with its stray dog problem, under previous rules.

Each day some 30 stray dogs are caught in the regional capital, Ulan-Ude.

But now the rules have changed.

These dogs may now be euthanised if their owners cannot be located within a month.

At the end of 2023, several Russian regions allowed the killing of stray dogs, as authorities grappled with their spiralling numbers.

Under the new law, animal shelters can either send the animals to a temporary holding centre where they will be euthanised, or keep them, at their own expense.

Last year the number of dogs at Ananda, established in 2022, grew dramatically to more than 2,500, as the programme of releasing the dogs back to the neighbourhoods where they were caught was aborted.

More than 200 thousand Russian rubles (€2,000) are needed per day to maintain the shelter, including salaries, according to Ananda manager Nargiza Muminova.