The single most important thing you can do to help with the Bulgarian stray dog (and cat) problem is to have any dog/cat that you own, that your neighbour’s own or that you are able to catch, neutered.
Every city and town across Bulgaria has numerous stray dogs, some municipalities do more to control the dog population that others, but add to that the fact that every year thousands of puppies are born to yard and chain dogs and dogs belonging to villagers that roam free, and there is a growing, unchecked problem. The vast majority of these puppies are either killed by the dog owner or more commonly just dumped in the forests or on the edge of the road, left to starve, be run over or poisoned. The ones that survive go on to add to the population of stray animals and unless neutered, the problem grows exponentially.
Around 80% of Bulgaria’s owned animals (dogs and cats) live outside, either chained or running free around the village. Less than 20% of these are neutered.
One of the major problems is that the neutering programs are made the responsibility of local municipalities and are thus done on the whim of politics and dependent on budget and with most local councils being poor and often corrupt, neutering programs simply do not get done as often or in a manner in which they should be done. Many municipalities pay per dog that is neutered and therefore the system is open to constant corruption, dogs being taken in tagged, only partially neutered, if at all, and put back on the street. The vet gets paid for the “operation” whether done properly or not.
Unfortunately the long term solution of neutering takes too much effort and it is easy and cheaper to either just poison or shoot the dogs or dump them in a neighbouring municipality, thus moving the problem. Under communism there were regular culls of street dogs, but with the fall of communism and the amid dire economic times which followed the collapse of the regime, many people threw out their pets, not being able to afford their upkeep. After several years of breeding unchecked there were 20,000 or more dogs roaming Sofia alone. With a concerted effort by organisations in Sofia this number has been drastically reduced. Similar campaigns have been carried out in Burgas and Ruse and slowly there are more options to allow people to get their animals neutered for free or at a discount.
There are now a number of places around the country offering free neutering for street dogs and village dogs as listed below:
- In the Smoylan region – Little Angels Rescue Bulgaria as part of TheNeuterNetwork is happy to co-ordinate taking dogs and cats to the free castration clinic in Plovdiv.
- In the Dryanovo municipality – Emma & her husband are working in conjunction with the local mayor to offer free neutering. Please use the Facebook page to make contact
- In the Kazanlak municipality, the municipality shelter, backed by an Austrian organisation runs a neutering campaign usually twice a year (once in around March/April and again in October), Twitchynoses also works actively in this region and is happy to arrange to have any street or village or chain dogs neutered. Please contact us to discuss this further.
- In the Stara Zagora region and Chirpan areas, TwitchyNoses is also happy to organise to take dogs and cats to the castration clinic in Plovdiv.
- Close to the centre of Plovdiv, near the exhibition hall, there is now a free castration clinic, run by a German organisation and Animal Hope Plovdiv. Anyone can go here and take a dog or a cat to be neutered. A donation is recommended to keep the clinic functioning.
- Provadia Dogs R Us is a group of volunteers who help at the Provadia municipality shelter and also provide free neutering for street dogs and chained dogs.
- In Devnya, on the edge of Varna, there is the LuckyHunt foundation offering free neutering
- In Ruse the German-Bulgarian organisation offer free neutering and they will also collect/return animals if arranged through the village mayor.
- The clinic of the Four paws foundation in Bankya, near Sofia offers free neutering.
- Also in Sofia there is The German – Bulgarian castration center, but they don’t work during the summer season.
- There is also Animal Rescue Sofia that can help with neutering.
- In Bansko, Sanctuary Bansko will help with neutering of dogs in around the resort of Bansko.
Therefore please contact anyone of these organisations if you know of or have any dogs that need neutering. Please note that these are all charities and voluntary organisations and therefore a donation towards the neutering would be appreciated.