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Residents of St. Petersburg may be asked to pay a “dog tax”

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A tax on owning a dog will possibly be introduced in St. Petersburg. Such legislation was suggested by deputies of the Legislative Council. The tax will not exceed 1000 rubles per annum.

The money will be re-invested into pets – it will be spent on construction of areas to walk the dogs. Besides, the tax will make dog owners more responsible – every pet, regardless of breed, will have to be registered. But for now, this is just a project. His designers have already encountered difficulties, mostly territorial ones. Alexandra Lee talked to experts and dog owners.

Owner of Brussels Gryphon named Zurbagan always carries baggies, cleans after her pet. Bu the irritated part of the park’s visitors is always there. 2 years ago her dog died – it was poisoned here. However, she doesn’t want to leave the Alexandrovskiy Park. It cannot be replaced by any designated dog-walking area.

Olga Murashko, dog owner: “Firstly, where would you place such an area in our neighborhood? Secondly, it still has to be reached by foot. And every breed will walk on such area – from Yorkshire terriers to wolfhounds.

The Admiralteyskiy area is not a one off. 7 of 18 districts have stumbled upon the issue of finding space for dog needs

Pavel Gushin, acting head of MO “Krasnenkaya Rechka”: “Theoretically – it could be placed here. But this is the façade part of the Stachek avenue – it’s a major road where many foreigners drive by”

Map of the “Krasnenkaya Rechka” has been studied throughout – green zones will mostly be occupied by children’s playgrounds.

A 100 dog-walking areas were planned in 2012, nowadays there is roughly a third of that. One of the few districts to see such areas being built is Kronshtadt.

Alexandra Lee, reporter: “Territory for dog walks has already been allocated in the Kronshtadt district. As per usual, it was equipped with such tents, garbage bins, benches and training vaults. The project is almost complete – all that’s left to do is putting greenery at the adjacent territory and it will be usable by fall. There’s another condition – such venues must be placed not closer than 40 meters from social facilities like kindergartens or hospitals. This rule has been kept here on the Kronshtadt, which is not completely unusual for this district – it is not as densely filled with housing as other municipal parts of St. Petersburg. What to do with those parts where every bit of land is fought for is yet unclear”

The redevelopment committee says that lack of space is not the only problem. Even if a space is found, a dog-walking area is created and opened, who’ll be running its costs? Which, by the way, are not only about taking out the trash: dirt, grass and constructions – all must meet sanitary and veterinary norms. And this means additional spending.

Irina Klimenko, head of  department of the Committee at St. Petersburg government: “The majority of districts, as I understand, are ready to invest small sums into creating such areas, but maintaining them should be the job of either governing companies – because these area would belong to inner yards of households – or municipal authorities”

Both governing companies and municipal authorities are not quite so ready to take this financial burden. That’s why legislators want to have dog owners themselves involved – they’re suggesting a “dog tax” – 100 rubles a year for castrated dogs, 1000 for all others. But even the sum is debatable.

Anastasiya Melnikova, deputy of St. Petersburg’s Legislative Council: “The city cannot afford it! If we now spend money on dogs, people will be irritated. That is why we want to introduce such tax – to have money to create good conditions, to protect animals from unlawfulness when they are being poisoned. And to protect our residents”

Zurbagan’s owner believes that this tax will not protect from dog owners’ rights violation – and, naturally, from dog hunters as well. Moreover, will this money be enough and, more importantly, how non-payers will be controlled seems unclear.

Olga Murashko, dog owner: “No tax would help if a dog owner has no responsibility for the pet’s life and if he doesn’t bear in mind that he needs to protect both the pet and the environment”

So far, alternative dog walking areas have only been occasional. Some districts find a cheaper solution – putting special dispensers with baggies and shovels. But again – its only occasional. 

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