In an attempt to control rabies, one governor is placing strict limits on pet ownership.
How would your veterinary clients react if the government limited the number of pets they could have at home? (For that matter, how would you react!) Well, it’s not a hypothetical situation in one Russian city. According to an article in The Moscow Times, Governor Yevgeny Savchenko of Belgorod infuriated pet owners by banning all residents from walking dogs outside their homes and limiting residents to one dog and two cats per household. Now, dog owners will only be allowed to walk their pets in two designated areas. As a result, thousands of dogs will be crowded into the city's walking grounds at any given time, "creating conditions ripe for an epidemic," says Galina Steblovskaya, head of a Belgorod-based animal charity.
The head of the Belgorod city department for veterinary inspection says limits on pets were necessary because some owners keep dozens of animals in unsanitary conditions, causing neighbors to complain about the stench of urine and waste. Some veterinarians in Belgorod praised the ban as an opportunity to limit pet owners who bear no responsibility for their pets.
The governor’s office pointed to rabies fears for the pet ban. A total of 3,927 people went to the doctor after animals bit them in the first 10 months of last year, compared with 4,065 in 2009. A total of 263 rabies cases were registered in the region last year, including 89 wild animals (mostly foxes), 85 dogs, and 72 cats.