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Gruesome Dog-Cull Video Sparks Outrage In Baku

Gruesome Dog Culling In Baku
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WATCH: (Warning: graphic images) Harrowing footage of a dog cull in Baku

Baku's controversial canine-control policy has come under scrutiny once more with the emergence of a video showing dogs being killed in front of children in a city suburb on July 30.

The minute-long clip, which has been published on the website of RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service, shows men dragging the corpse of a dog that appears to have just been shot and throwing it unceremoniously into the back of a van while horrified kids look on.

Although city officials told local media that they had nothing to do with the destruction of the dog, a sign on the truck clearly says "Baku Executive Authority" in Azeri.

Not surprisingly, the footage has sparked outrage among animal rights activists who claim that such brutal and seemingly indiscriminate extermination practices are inhumane and breach the European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals.

The incident has reopened a debate that raged fiercely last year when local authorities arranged a cull of the thousands of stray dogs that roam Baku as part of a citywide cleanup ahead of the Eurovision Song Contest, which was held in the Azerbaijani capital in 2012.

Harrowing images that subsequently surfaced on YouTube showing dogs being ruthlessly killed prompted one of the biggest civic initiatives seen in Baku in recent years, with thousands of people signing a petition calling on city authorities to adopt a less drastic practice for dealing with stray dogs.

Activists also launched a campaign to find homes for the abandoned animals in a bid to persuade city hall that there were alternatives to simply culling the animals.

Although city officials took note of the outcry, it seems that these efforts have had little long-term effect and that a more humane way of putting down stray dogs has not been introduced.

Nonetheless, pressure from the public on this issue has had some impact elsewhere in Azerbaijan.

In March, the regional city of Ganja announced that it was ending the practice of shooting strays. It took this step after it emerged that 870 dogs had been shot dead in the city in just two months.

-- Coilin O'Connor with contributions from RFE/RL Azerbaijani Service correspondent Turxan Qarishga

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