OIPA International and OIPA Azerbaijan sent official letters to the main local, national and international institutions in Azerbaijan over a month ago. How many of them do you think gave us an answer? Yes, you’re right, none!
In the letters, we expressed our deep disappointment with the situation concerning Azerbaijani stray dogs in the city of Baku, who are constantly at risk of being killed by the Executive Authority and the Toplan so-called dog care center.
Maybe local authorities are not interested in solving this problem, since it can be a complex work. Corruption and mismanagement means that the money allocated from the budget to solve the stray dog overpopulation problem is not used for its intended purpose. Moreover, the Executive Authority hires people to shoot dogs in large numbers at night.
Even more unbelievable, the government does not want to accept assistance from local animal rights defenders and volunteers. All stray dogs, even those who were already caught, neutered, vaccinated and identified by local volunteers, are caught by Toplan animal center and sentenced to death.
In her role of representative of OIPA Azerbaijan, Ilhama Nasirova has written a list of ten requests to the Azerbaijani public authorities. Please sign the petition on this page to support this list of demands. Let our voices unite! They must listen to us!
The petition is addressed to Ms. Mehriban Aliyeva, the First Vice President of Azerbaijan and the head of Heydar Aliyev Foundation, asking for the following:
1. Create an ad hoc commission for the purpose of conducting a full inspection of Toplan’s activities. This includes engaging the public, in accordance with the requirements of the Law ‘On Public Participation’ (‘İctimai iştirakçılıq haqqında’). Facilitate the passage of animal rights defenders and journalists through the territory of the center.
2. Implement the declared policy of TNVR (Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate, and Reintroduction in the former habitat), rather than the current practice of killing dogs cruelly and indiscriminately.
3. Curb and prevent the massacre of stray dogs and punish the responsible people through the enactment and enforcement of an animal protection law. In particular, nighttime dog shootings by hired employees of the Housing and Communal Services Department of the Executive Power must be stopped and they must be punished.
4. The complete withdrawal of responsibility for stray dog population control from the Housing and Communal Services Department of Executive Authority. The last 30 years have shown they are not capable of handling the task, as they have only achieved shame on the country and the deaths of many innocent souls.
5. Fire and replace the Toplan’s employees, who use violence against animals. Stop all current Toplan activity and start again with new staff.
6. Each stray dog brought into custody must be accompanied by detailed information, indicating the address of the capture, treatment, and release date to the former habitat. This information must be proclaimed on the official website, guaranteeing transparency. In addition, stray dogs should be reintroduced in their former habitats whenever possible.
7. Establish a widespread system of feeders and kennels for stray dogs. Place signs in their proximity with warnings and references to national legislation about the inadmissibility of cruel treatments to animals, as well as the consequences of such treatment.
8. Stop the demonization of dogs among the general population, which is particularly widespread in Azerbaijan. It is particularly important to prevent the animal care center from publishing negative materials and calls to exterminate stray dogs. Promote a public campaign in order to educate people towards a positive stance in relation to stray dogs. Bring a stop as well to the campaign of slander against animal defenders.
9. Bring an end to illegal animal sellers, who buy, breed and sell animals. Implement the law against illegal breeding of dogs and the import of non-sterilized dogs.
10. Declare the status and role of Mubariz Huseynov, the main anti-hero for the animal protection movement of Azerbaijan, at the Toplan Center.
The Executive Authority in Azerbaijan has proven its incompetence over the years and failed to properly address the problem with stray dogs. We hope to receive a reply from Azerbaijani institutions soon. Local animal protection associations, animal lovers and volunteers are eager for any kind of help, and we can’t wait to see progress towards a humane response to the stray dog issue in our country.
Featured image: a sleeping street dog. Image credit Andrey, CC BY-SA 3.0.