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BALKANS > Stray dogs kill again in Sofia

SOFIA - Agence France-Presse

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An 89-year-old man died on June 17 in hospital after being violently mauled by stray dogs in a Sofia public garden earlier this week, the second such incident in the past three months. The elderly man, who suffered from dementia, was found in the park Tuesday with his legs bitten to the bone. The severe injuries worsened his other medical conditions and he died, the emergency hospital Pirogov announced.

Another elderly man, an 87-year-old former university professor, died on April 8 after a pack of 25 stray dogs attacked him in his Sofia neighborhood, knocked him to the ground and tore pieces from his arms and legs. The number of stray dogs roaming the Bulgarian capital has risen with the economic crisis as many more animals or their litters have been abandoned in the streets.

The city of two million now counts about 9,500 stray dogs, city council data show. While alarming, the figure is well down from the 20,000 dogs counted in 1997.

The number of recorded attacks on humans has also decreased from a record 6,606 in 1994 to 445 in 2011, hospital data show.

The latest incidents prompted the mayor’s office to promise stiffer regulations concerning pet ownership, as well as new castration programmes and shelters for strays.

Under current regulations, authorities can put down sick or aggressive animals but must return others to the neighborhoods where they were collected after neutering them.

June/19/2012

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