Kosovo's capital city, Pristina, has a dog problem. Throughout the city, roving packs of stray canines scour the streets, occasionally attacking humans, many of whom live in fear of the feral animals. Last year, after an infant was mauled to death by a group of dogs, residents demanded their city leadership to take action -- and they did, but not everyone is happy about the solution. Particularly since that solution involves an armed militia of dog hunters gunning down man's best friend at an alarming rate.According to reports, it's been three weeks since the Pristina city council approved a plan to cull the capital's hundreds of stray dogs. So far, officials say that 190 animals have been shot by hunters hired by the city to do the grim job under the supervision of police.
Despite the threats to public safety posed by the feral animals, which have been occasionally known to attack residents, animal rights advocates have attacked the measure as inhumane. Locals say that many of the dogs that have been shot by the hunters are suffering a slow death, and that agonizing howls can be heard across the city. But aside from the element of cruelty involved, the measure ultimately won't solve the problem, says Dennis Capstick of the Animal Friends of Kosovo.
"It's a quick fix and it only creates more problems, because you then create a vacuum and many more dogs from surrounding areas come," Capstick told The Associated Press. "You end up having a bigger problem than you've started with."
Prestina isn't the only place that faces similar issues with stray dogs. Across war-torn Serbia and the region, countless animals that were left abandoned by their owners have managed to survive scavenging in major urban centers by forming into packs, perpetuating the problem over generations.
The city of Prestina says that the solution to hire hunters was not arrived to easily, but rather the council was "unwillingly forced to undertake an inhumane approach."