Just when you think you’ve heard every way possible to mistreat an animal, a new one pops up — or in this case an old method that is making a comeback.
The ancient ritual known as “dog spinning” to ward off evil spirits has reappeared in a small town in Bulgaria.
Dog spinning or “trichane” is a pagan ritual performed once a year on March 6 to prevent rabies in a village and keep away the bad spirits of springtime.
In dog spinning, a rope is wrapped around a dog and the animal is suspended above a body of water, such as a river. The dog is turned repeatedly until the rope is twisted as far as it will coil. Then the coil is released so the dog spins wildly as the rope unwinds and the animal falls into the water.
Nothing is supposed to happen to the dogs used in the ritual, but photos from previous dog spinning days show the faces of terrified animals as they hang helplessly above a river or stream with a crowd of people cheering from the shore.
In the past dogs have drowned because they are so disoriented when they drop into the water.
The practice was stopped in 2005, when the media outside of Bulgaria found out about the ritual and reported it to the world.
Animal welfare organizations were outraged by its cruelty and the pressure they put on Bulgaria put an end to the practice.
But now the mayor of Brodilovo, a rural Bulgarian village, has renewed the ancient ritual. He stated there is “nothing wrong with it and that nothing is supposed to happen to the dogs’ participating in it.”
Mayor Petko Arnaudov told the Sofia News Agency that “society and the international community has misinterpreted the ritual.”
He said, “Nobody is killing or hurting the dogs. They are brought by their owners who love them in order to take part in this folklore ritual, which is meant to cleanse the local community of evil and to generate fertility. The dogs are spun for about 15-20 seconds, and then they fall in the water, which amounts to bathing them.”
The mayor said his village restored the tradition because they were looking for hope in the “extreme” bad economy. A recent outbreak of foot and mouth disease has brought the farming town to the brink of despair.
The dog spinning event has pitted the town against animal advocates from all over Bulgaria. Even the Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov has condemned the practice.
He has asked the Prosecutor General to take action and called on his government to establish sanctions against the village.
Bulgaria’s Parliament recently amended their animal cruelty law to criminalize animal abuse. Serious fines and up to five years in prison can now be handed down to those who “injure an animal on purpose.”
Both the Prosecutor and the Prime Minister believe the new law will cover the type of cruelty endured by the dogs in the ritual.
What do you think? Is dog spinning a harmless ritual or an act of animal abuse?
Please beware the following video contains “graphic and disturbing content” of a dog spinning ritual.
Creative Commons - Kevin Shorter