Moscow Homeless Dog

A seemingly homeless dog sleeps on Moscow subway train.

Thanks to the pressure of Russian animal rights activists and celebrities, thousands of Moscow’s stray dogs will not be deported to camps outside the city.

The controversial plan would have gotten rid of the dogs by sending them to a camp in the Yaroslavl region, some 150 miles (250 kilometers) northeast of Moscow. But activists staged a campaign to oppose the deportation, collecting nearly 2,000 signatures of prominent artists and musicians against the plan.

Opponents compared the planned facility to a concentration camp for dogs and feared that the dogs would be in danger of catching deadly diseases.

Moscow’s city government was expected to endorse the plan on Tuesday but the proposal was not mentioned in the session’s minutes which were posted on line

The Russian capital has an estimated 26,000 stray dogs, some smart enough to ride escalators and trains on the subway and others who intimidate or attack humans.

Moscow has spent some 1.3 billion rubles ($45 million) on dog shelters, sterilization, and other programs to deal with the city’s stray population between 2008 and 2009, but critics say much of the money has gone unaccounted for.

The next thing activists will push for are taxes and oversight over dog breeders who they believe to be “a key source of new strays,” as well as the promotion of more sterilization among Russian pets.

By Elaine Furst For Dog Files