Things are different in Ukraine than in American for dogs. In some ways, dogs have a better life in Ukraine, in others it’s a harder life. Street dogs (i.e. dogs with no owner or home), are all over the place. In almost every town and city we visit there are dogs on sidewalks, in the parks, and in the neighborhoods.
To some capacity, the dogs here are taken care of. Most of them are reasonably well fed, whether it’s by their own effort, or from the compassion of someone who buys them sausages, or the meat shop owner who lays out the pieces no one buys.
Most communities have some sort of organized effort of at least controlling the spread of this issue or working to eliminate the issue. During our few months of training, Chris was partnered with an NGO which worked to vaccinate and sterilize the dogs. Each dog that received this treatment was then tagged on their ear with a number. This is also now happening to a higher degree in our current community. Based on our observation, about half of the dogs in our community have received these ear clips.
It is also worth noting that while some of these dogs are technically without owners, there are some who have a sort of informal caretaker. For example, some schools will have a dog or two that hang around because the left overs from school lunches are put out for them and the kids will play with them on the school grounds.
The terms “stray dog”, “street dog”, or “homeless dog”, really don’t capture who these dogs are. Many people here do see them as a problem or a nuisance, but also many people see them companions or a kind of a character or personality of the community. No one wants to see them without a home, but until in the meantime, let’s see them for who they are.