What is the problem?
At the end of July, the executive committee of the Voronkiv village council in the Boryspil region announced its intention to euthanize homeless animals on the community's territory. The Hromada News media provides screenshots of the committee's publication on Facebook, although the post is now missing from the page.
Locals were informed about the euthanasia of stray dogs and cats due to the spread of African swine fever (ASF), which was detected on the territory of the local hunting farm.
Background: ASF is an incurable pig disease that can lead to 100% mortality but is NOT transmissible to humans. In some cases, in the event of an outbreak of ASF, cats and dogs are indeed put down, but not always and everywhere.
The statements of the executive committee of the Voronkiv community regarding the euthanasia of animals caused considerable indignation among the public. The next day, the executive committee published an explanation that the killing of stray, feral cats and dogs would be carried out only on the territory of the specified hunting ground. However, this still violates the law.
Is it legal?
The last such high-profile case happened in 2018 in Mykolaiv. Then, according to data from various sources, 70 to 150 dogs were euthanized in one night at the Animal Protection Center in the city "on the basis of conclusions about their aggressiveness or incurable diseases" as part of "regulating the number of homeless animals," citing the center's statement.
Although after the entry into force of Animal Protection Law No. 2351 in 2021, the mass euthanasia of animals was banned as a way of regulating their number, some people are still trying to bring it back, trying to bind it under other norms.
What is the solution?
In what case can an animal be euthanized?
Article 17 of the Animal Protection law clearly defines when it is permissible to euthanize an animal. In particular when the animal is sick with rabies or another dangerous disease. The list of these diseases is extensive, comprehensive, and approved by legislation (see the full list of diseases here). ASF, which was detected in the hunting ground, is included in this list.
However, to euthanize a domestic animal, and we are talking about any cat or dog, whether it has its own home and owner or not, there must be an appropriate document from the state institution of veterinary medicine confirming that this particular animal is sick.
"The very possibility of transferring the pathogen is not a reason for euthanasia," says the UAnimals post on Facebook, which animal rights activists published in response to the executive committee of the Voronivsk village council.
The organization also noted that if similar statements are heard in the community, the local authorities should organize an examination of homeless animals together with volunteers. Euthanasia can be applied only to those already sick with the plague or another disease from the above list. In practice, it may turn out that all cats and dogs were healthy because they hardly came into contact with pigs in closed farms.
That is why even the explanations given by the executive committee the next day can be considered inappropriate because the ferity they mentioned is not a legal reason for killing an animal. If we operate in legal terms, the post was about the mass euthanasia of animals.
What to do if mass euthanasia of animals is going to take place in your city or community?
The first advice is to raise the alarm immediately. Publicity in the news and social networks will help put pressure on the bodies that made the illegal decision. Contact animal protection organizations: UAnimals is considered the most significant animal protection movement in Ukraine, but there are also more local organizations in cities.
In the case of the Voronkiv community, it helped: the residents raised the alarm and managed to get the local head to contact the activists and explain that animals and dogs would not be euthanized on the community's territory. Although judging by the text of the previous message, they planned on it.
Did it work 100%? At first, no, then yes
By the way, the post calling on community residents to hide their pets was removed from the executive committee's page precisely after public outrage, and new explanations were also provided at the same time: "Euthanasia should be applied only to animals in the infection zone within a radius of 1 km and only to animals with signs of ferocity," Ruslan Dyachenko, the head of the Boryspil district administration, explained to activist Tetyana Kutsukon.
However, this is also illegal. The plan of measures in case of an outbreak of ASF is the same for everyone and is approved by the order of the Ministry of Agrarian Policy. The document does provide for eliminating stray cats and dogs in the event of an outbreak of the disease, but only on the territory of pig farms where the disease was detected. The document does not have a single word about the ferocity criterium. In the case of the Voronkiv community, the Protsivske LLC Karan MRG farm is a hunting enterprise, and the law does not provide for such regulations on the destruction of cats and dogs in such a case. Therefore, it is quite possible to claim that even such an explanation is a blatant case of self-righteousness.
Rubryka contacted Kutskon, who told us that as a result of the active participation of the public, the point about the destruction of cats and dogs was completely excluded: "Because of this, we also quarreled, they made excuses, they did not know how to come up with what signs of ferocity should the animals have," the activist shared. "We went to the state veterinary clinic, to the chief, who said that nothing was done. They sent an official response to our collective complaint that they removed this item from the protocol, and no animal was harmed," the woman said.
How is the killing of animals punished?
Note that Art. 299 of the Criminal Code provides for five to eight years of imprisonment for killing animals. In Ukraine, such cases are investigated, but it is not known whether the cases are brought to an end. Recently, an incident occurred in Lviv: two healthy dogs were put to sleep in a veterinary sterilization center. The fault of the chief physician and acting manager was proven during the official investigation; they were fired, but we still have to find out whether they will bear both official and criminal or administrative responsibility.
To our inquiry about whether euthanasia was carried out and whether there were legal grounds to do so, the Voronkiv Village Council answered that no animals were killed on the territory of the hunting farm. In addition, it was noted that there were no reports of ASF in cats and dogs. Public pressure on local authorities certainly influenced this development.
How to protect your animal?
The most common incurable disease due to which an animal must be euthanized is rabies. There is no cure for rabies, but you can prevent infection, and the only way is to vaccinate the animal. It must be carried out every year in a veterinary clinic.
Another tip — try to limit your pet's contact with other animals, cats or dogs, rodents, hedgehogs, and others, because they can be carriers of the disease.
As for the African swine fever virus, you can read more about this disease here.
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