Photo by capital.bg
After the two horrid cases in which elderly people were attacked by stray dogs and later on passed away from their injuries, Sofia municipality decided to act and take new measures for the withdrawal of potentially dangerous dogs off the city streets. In an answer to that we and our colleagues demanded that a distinct criterion is established in determining aggression in dogs. Thus, the organizations who work on the Sofia Trap&Neuter&Return program were invited by the Municipality to make their suggestions for a new methodology.
Such a methodology has been lacking for years and the assessment of aggression and the choice of euthanasia were left solely to the subjective opinion of the shelter manager. At the same time citizen complaints about “aggressive dogs” have continued to grow. People see this as an opportunity to get rid of the community dogs that bother them in some way. There is a huge need for a working and applicable method.
Diva and Dozer are only 2 of hundreds of dogs that enter the Sofia shelters alleged to be agressive by citizen complaints – as most of the others these two are sweethearts
In order to put an end to the euthanasia of dogs based on unsubstantiated allegations and in the same time guarantee the citizens that dangerous dogs will not be returned to the streets, we, together with our colleagues from “Vier Photen” Bulgaria and The German Spay-Neuter Centre, along with the director of the Municipal company “Ecobalance” studied and discussed several methods from all over the world. We picked out an Australian method, used by the government, but developed by their Humane society. It is also used in New Zealand, Canada, Hong Kong and other countries.
To be sure the method is humane and applicable we sought the help of world-renown canine behaviorist Anders Hallgren. Our chairlady Nadia Stancheva traveled to Sweden and met with world’s most famous canine behaviorist – Anders Hallgren. The two of them discussed the method and made slight changes in it making sure it is applicable to stray dogs. Mr Hallgren approved the method and sent a letter of support to the Sofia municipality.
Anders Hallgren has been researching dog psychology since the 1960-ties and is considered a most reputable and humane expert in the field. It is interesting to note, Anders actualy began involving himself in this issue upon learning of the great numbers of dogs being destoryes for behavior reasons in Sweden at that time.
It has been 50 years since then and Anders has published tens of books in many languages; conducted tens of strategically important researches on the subject and developed tens of methodologies for humane societies all over the world.
In short – the method comprises of a 7 step test that is to be carried out in a specific environment. What was important to us was that the test be applicable to dogs living in the street.
DOWNLOAD THE METHOD IN PDF (Bulgarian only)
The main goal of such testing is to prevent the return of potentially dangerous animals to the street in the course of the Trap&Neuter&Return program and in the same time introduce a proven scientific approach in determining the aggressive dogs from the citizen complaints. The dogs deemed “unsafe” through this method will be held at the shelter for the legal period of 14 days until they are euthanized. In case a dog is wanted for adoption by a citizen or an NGO the dogs will be given to the interested party.
The method has been approved by Animal Rescue Sofia, “Vier Photen” Bulgaria and The German Spay-Neuter Centre and will be introduced in Sofia by the Municipal company “Ecobalance”.
Sounds like a very good step in the right direction and could be useful in many parts of the world – an English version of the 7-steps would be great!
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