World Cup bosses order slaughter of thousands of stray dogs at venues across Russia

Thousands of stray dogs are being massacred in World Cup ­venues across Russia.

Organisers have ordered the cull as most major towns and cities have ­problems with feral animals, many of which carry diseases such as rabies.

But the move has sparked outrage among animal rights groups.

Russia’s environmental protection committee chief Vladimir Burmatov said: “We have received many appeals from activists and caring citizens saying mass shooting and euthanasia of stray animals is taking place in a number of World Cup host cities.

Dead dogs after a stray cull for Euro 2012 in Ukraine

“This must stop, our country’s ­reputation is at stake. Because we’re not savages carrying out mass killings of animals on the streets. For the same money you can easily carry out catching, vaccination, sterilisation and ­accommodating the animals.”

The committee sent a letter to sports minister Pavel Kolobkov about the concerns and he has ordered host cities to use humane methods to kill the dogs to avoid a “negative public reaction”.

There are an estimated two million strays in this year’s World Cup venues – which include Volgograd where England play their first game – Russia’s first deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko said.

He also urged pest controllers to use humane euthanasia methods. It is not the first time Russia has come under fire for destroying stray animals.

President Vladimir Putin was forced to reverse a similar cull in 2014

Before the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, organisers planned to kill 2,000 to ensure safety, and “protect the image” of the country.

The boss of the firm tasked with catching the dogs sparked fury by branding them as “biological trash”.

President Vladimir Putin was forced to reverse the decision due to the ­worldwide condemnation of the move. Local authorities issued assurances that stray animals would be sent to shelters.

A similar plan for a cull in Ukraine before Euro 2012 caused outrage.

Russia also has a rabies problem with wolves, bats hedgehogs, foxes, deer and squirrels. The disease kills 60,000 people worldwide every year.

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