Russia Is Killing Stray Dogs Prior to the World Cup

When the FIFA World Cup soccer match announced that it would be held in Russia this year, animal welfare advocates were immediately concerned. After all, Russian officials had hired pest control companies to poison thousands of stray dogs prior to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

In response to the international outcry over what happened in Sochi – including a Care2 petition signed by nearly 174,000 people – city officials ordered a shelter to be built to house some of the dogs.

But a similar culling began in Russia several months before the World Cup, which begins June 14.

“We have received many appeals from animal rights activists, and just caring citizens, saying mass shooting and euthanasia of stray animals is taking place in a number of World Cup-host cities,” Vladimir Burmatov, head of the Russian lower house’s ecology and environmental protection committee, told the newspaper Parlamentskaya Gazeta.

The committee sent a letter to Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov asking that regional authorities use humane methods to kill the dogs.

Kolobkov responded with an even better idea: temporary shelters would be provided for strays during the World Cup games. Host cities would be urged to “avoid measures that could be evaluated as cruel treatment of animals and provoke a negative reaction in society,” he told the newspaper.

Unfortunately, and perhaps unsurprisingly, Russia broke that promise.

“It’s not normal in the 21st century that we are killing dogs and cats on the street like this,” animal welfare activist Katya Kuzmenko told the Los Angeles Times. “They say a nation should be judged by how it treats its animals. Look at what we are doing. It’s shameful.”

What Kuzmenko is doing is far from shameful. She earned a degree in government procurement and contracts regulations two years ago, and she’s using that knowledge to challenge Russia’s culling of stray dogs. She also belongs to the organization Dog Patrol, which is raising money to build a nongovernmental animal shelter in Rostov-on-Don, one of the World Cup host cities.

The shelter will have surgical rooms, where dogs and cats will be sterilized before being returned to their territories, or better yet, adopted. Within just two years, 80 percent of the city’s stray dogs could be sterilized.

There are about two million homeless dogs and cats roaming the streets of the 11 cities hosting the World Cup. Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod and Kaliningrad are the only host cities that prohibit the mass killing of stray dogs, according to the Los Angeles Times. The other seven cities hire contract “dog hunters”.

Instead of spending nearly $2 million for these dog hunters to kill strays – usually by shooting them with poisoned darts or feeding them poisoned food, causing them to suffer painful deaths — it would be much more humane and effective to spend that money on sterilizing them. This solution is supported by Humane Society International, PETA and other animal welfare groups.

“This year in Sochi, we have the same situation as we did before the 2014 Olympics,” Andrzej Pazgan, the Eastern European coordinator for PETA, told the Los Angeles Times. “If mass cullings were effective, we wouldn’t have the same problem four years later.”

It’s a long shot, but if FIFA refused to hold the World Cup in countries that cull dogs, many of these animals’ lives could be spared. Before the World Cup was held in Brazil four years ago, animal activists there said strays were being rounded up and killed. The government denied it, despite eyewitness accounts of the culling.

“FIFA must shoulder the responsibility for these deaths and take immediate action to ensure no more dogs are inhumanely slaughtered, now and in the future,” says the website for World Cup Cruelty, a campaign launched by the Danish animal rights organization Anima. The campaign is urging FIFA to add an animal welfare clause to its code of ethics.

Take Action

Meanwhile, a much more cost-effective and humane way for Russia to resolve its stray dog problem not only during the World Cup but on a permanent basis would be to sterilize these dogs instead of killing them.

Please join more than 330,000 people who have signed this petition urging Russian officials to spay and neuter stray dogs and cats.

Want to make a difference on an issue you find deeply troubling? You, too, can create a Care2 petition, and use this handy guide to get started. You’ll find Care2’s vibrant community of activists ready to step up and help you.


Photo credit: Andrey


Marie W
Marie Wabout a month ago

Thanks for sharing

Danuta W
Danuta W6 months ago

Thanks for sharing

Jennifer H
Jennifer H7 months ago


Berenice Guedes de Sá
Berenice G7 months ago

What a cruelty way to deal with this situation!!! These people don't have heart at all !!!!

Brandy S
Brandy S7 months ago

Thank you.

Filomena C
Filomena C7 months ago


Filomena C
Filomena C7 months ago


Filomena C
Filomena C7 months ago


David C
David C7 months ago

sadly noted

Veronica B
Veronica B7 months ago

Greedy Cruel Heartless people!!! Petition Signed .

Agree with Sandra S.