Every so often, this goes on: Kosovo hunters shoot dogs at city’s request (AP, Nebi Qena)

PRISTINA, Kosovo (AP) — The video was shocking: Wounded dogs yelping in pain as they tried to escape the hunters gunning them down.

Authorities in Kosovo’s capital of Pristina say 190 street dogs have been shot and killed in the first three weeks of a culling campaign that has been harshly criticized by animal lovers.

Urban areas in the tiny Balkan nation, which declared independence from Serbia in 2008, have been plagued by packs of dogs that often attack people. An infant died last year after being bitten by several dogs, sparking calls for authorities to do something.

Their solution has provoked an outcry.

The local council was “unwillingly forced to undertake an inhumane approach” and hire a hunter’s group to kill the strays after no animal rights groups bid for a government project to shelter the dogs, Pristina spokesman Muhamet Gashi said Wednesday.

In response, an animal rights group has presented a petition signed by over 2,000 Pristina residents urging a stop to the slaughter.

“It’s not humane and it’s not always a quick kill. Often it’s a slow agonizing death,” said Dennis Capstick, a spokesman for Animal Friends of Kosovo.

Hunters hired to do the shooting have refused to talk to journalists or allow them on their nightly killing sprees since harrowing images of the shootings appeared on Kosovo’s Klan television last month.

The shootings are supervised by Kosovo’s police, and the dead dogs are disposed of at a site outside Pristina. The program will go on until the problem is solved, authorities said.

Serbia, which has pledged not to give up its claim to Kosovo even though 75 countries recognize it as independent, also has a massive stray dog problem, fueled by years of war, poverty and the lack of any government strategy to neuter or control strays.

“These dogs need a shelter and not a bullet,” said Aridan Agaj, 27, a resident of Pristina. “We’ve had enough shooting in this part of the world anyhow.”

Well now, that’s an ironic statement coming from an Albanian. (See “Kosovo Albanians Armed to the Teeth“; and “every fifth Kosovo student is armed,” for starters.)

I must say, I’m heartened that there are Albanians like Agaj, who have a raised consciousness about dogs (and thank god for this guy). It’s certainly a contrast to the Kosovo Albanians who make sport out of running over dogs with cars. But notice in the report — written by an Albanian woman — two things: Serbia isn’t giving up its claim to Kosovo “even though 75 countries recognize it as independent.” Who knew that 75 was a majority of 192 countries? Serbia and the rest of us are supposed to pay more heed to 75 countries than to 117. Is that Albanian math?

Notice also how, whenever anything negative is reported about Kosovo, the reporter has to bring up a point about Serbia to show that it’s no better. So she mentions that “Serbia…also has a massive stray dog problem.” Indeed, it goes without saying that most eastern European countries (remember Athens before the Olympics — and Bucharest) have this issue. But notice there’s no mention of any government-sanctioned killing sprees in Serbia. That’s because, as I’ve pointed out before, on the dog issue as well Serbian society will take the longer route of finding a more humane solution, even if there is ultimately no solution. (Most especially not a final one.) In contrast, Albanians have a history of dealing with issues inhumanely.

Another report: “…many of the dogs that have been shot by the hunters are suffering a slow death, and that agonizing howls can be heard across the city…”

I’ll close with an oldie but goodie: Albanians want UN to kill ‘Serbian’ dog
(Nov. 21, 1999)

Pristina, Yugoslavia - A group of Kosovo Albanians want a dog adopted as a mascot by United Nations police to be put down because it is Serbian, UN sources in Kosovo said Sunday.

Members of the UN police force in Yugoslavia adopted the stray bitch, who is expecting a litter, at the beginning of September. They named the animal UNMIK, the acronym for the UN Mission in Kosovo.

A group of ethnic Albanians came two-and-a-half weeks ago to tell the UN police they had to kill the animal because the dog was Serbian, US officer Sam Holton, who looks after UNMIK, said.

Soldiers told the Albanians they would not comply with the request, but Holton said they were worried for the animal’s safety.

The father of UNMIK’s puppies is a black dog belonging to British soldiers called KFOR, named after the international peacekeeping force in Kosovo, Holton said.

Revenge attacks on Serbs have been commonplace in Kosovo, since the majority ethnic Albanian population returned after fleeing Belgrade’s repression. - Sapa-AFP