Turkmen dog hunters charged with killing ‘seven stray dogs a day’

Turkmenabat, Turkmenistan – Turkmenabat dog hunters have been tasked with capturing and killing at least seven stray dogs every day, locals say, as authorities in Turkmenistan’s second-largest city continue a brutal campaign of animal cruelty.

There were not many stray dogs and cats left on the streets of Turkmenabad, and many dog ​​owners complained.

In one infamous case, dog poachers took a dog that was on a leash outside a supermarket while its owner was buying groceries, residents told RFE/RL.

The authoritarian state of Central Asia has long been criticized for the systematic slaughter of stray animals using barbaric methods.

In Turkmenabad, a city of about 250,000 people, every housing management company is responsible for hiring people to cull dogs and cats in their neighborhood.

RFE / RL reporters, citing officials and residents, reported that one of these companies in the city’s Khimki district was recently ranked as the most successful in exterminating stray animals.

But some of the canines caught in Khimki last week turned out to be pet dogs.

Angry dog ​​owners demanded the management company return their pets, only to discover they had already been destroyed, locals told RFE/RL.

rough ways

Turkmenabat residents also accuse the dog hunters of using brutal methods to hunt the animals and keep them in appalling conditions.

a Graphic video In an alleged dog hunt in Turkmenabad, three animal control officers are shown beating two screeching dogs with a rod before throwing them in the back of a garbage truck.

Another gruesome video – also sent from Turkmenabad – shows animal carcasses inside filthy cages in dilapidated cell-like buildings.

A stray dog ​​was captured in a cage in Ashgabat.

Several residents told RFE/RL that everyone is privately indebted to how the surveys are carried out, but are too afraid to criticize or argue openly with housing management companies, because they rely on housing managers for certifications that enable them to obtain subsidized food. in government stores.

Subsidized food is a lifeline for many people in Turkmenistan, which has been plagued by chronic food shortages and price hikes for at least five years. Certificates indicating each person’s address and the number of people living in the home must be updated each month.

Ironically, the most recent combing campaign in Turkmenabat came when the government adopted a file new law On July 25, cruelty to animals is prohibited.

The law — which was passed shortly after the RFE/RL Turkmen Service published reports on the country’s harsh ways of dealing with strays — prohibits causing injury or other serious harm to dogs or depriving them of food, water, sleep, rest, or Playing sports .

It also prohibits the use of methods that cause dogs to suffer “unnecessarily when hunting stray dogs or regulating their number.”

Activists described the law as “hypocrisy” given what was practiced, and said it was unlikely that the Turkmen authorities would abide by it anytime soon.

Turkmenistan has been criticized for its longstanding practice of exterminating dogs and cats by poisoning them, beating them to death, starving them to death, or killing them by refusing to give them water.

Animal rights advocates said municipal authorities often bribed local teenagers to give poisoned sausages or bread to stray dogs and cats to kill.

Dog poachers routinely beat stray animals to the brink of death in the streets.

In one incident in Ashgabat, eyewitnesses told RFE/RL that an animal control officer was seen hitting a dog and her puppies with a rod in front of children in a kindergarten.

Authorities have never publicly addressed widespread criticism of their country’s cruelty to dogs and cats.

The desert nation is proud of its indigenous dog breed, the Alabai, which is nicknamed “Wolf-Crushers” for its ferocity and is officially listed as part of Turkmenistan’s national heritage.

Turkmenistan's President Serdar Berdymukhamedov with one of the famous Alabai dogs of the Central Asian country.  (image file)

Turkmenistan’s President Serdar Berdymukhamedov with one of the famous Alabai dogs of the Central Asian country. (image file)

Turkmen President Serdar Berdymukhamedov and his predecessor (and father) Kurbanguly Berdimuhamedov were often photographed with dogs and horses.

The former president dedicated a book to the Alabais and declared that the last Sunday in April would be Alabai Day in honor of the famous dynasty.

There is also a 6-meter-tall golden statue of an Alabai – the dearest dog in Turkmenistan – in a central square in the capital, Ashgabat.

Written by Franji Najibullah based on the reports of the correspondents of the Turkmenistan Service / Radio Free Europe / Radio Freedom of Turkmenistan.

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