Following a storm of protest by animal rights activists over the culling of stray dogs, done to tidy the streets of Kiev prior to the Euro 2012 football tournament, a dog sterilization program has been launched.

Street cleaning squads, sent to tidy the streets of Kiev before the arrival of international fans, were killing stray dogs, provoking outrage from animal rights groups. According to the London Evening Standard activists reported dogs were being poisoned, incinerated alive, and hanged, with more than 12,000 animals slaughtered in Kiev in the last year.

The charity People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) drew attention to the issue last year, urging the Union of European Football Associations to become involved. PETA’s campaign resulted in German footballplayers joining in demands that the city use humane methods to deal with the problem of stray dogs.

Naharnet reports that the animal rights activists have now succeeded in their demands for more humane methods to be used as a program of sterilization is launched. Vier Pfoten (Four Paws) is launching programs in Kiev, Lviv, Kharkiv and Donetsk, each of which will host matches in the football tournament.

Four Paws representative Nicolas Entrup said “The idea here is to use the atmosphere, the world’s focus and the European championship to develop something very, very long term.”

He added “Our ambition is here to provide a positive solution, a positive program where people work together with animal welfare, activists as well as veterinary experts. It’s a positive program to stop the killing of stray dogs, to decline their population, so the relation between people and animals can flourish and be positive.”

Some locals remain worried that sterilized stray dogs may still attack people. Katya Gorchinska, the victim of a dog bite, said “Sterilization is all well and good, but dogs don’t use their genitals to bite you.”

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