(Pristina) This is a video that went around Kosovo: a man beats up a shaggy street dog over and over again. Without worrying about being seen, or even filmed, the population of stray dogs has become so problematic in Kosovo and makes them vulnerable.

No one knows whether or not the dog survived this torture session, but these images were enough to mobilize animal rights associations. They estimate that there are nearly 4,000 stray dogs in Pristina alone, the capital where the town hall has decided to act.

The mayor of Pristina, Perparim Rama, has just launched the “A roof for every dog” program promising a bonus of 50 euros (around 75 Canadian dollars) per month (30% of the minimum wage) to anyone willing to adopt a dog.

The video “is not an isolated event, it is daily, everywhere in Kosovo”, alarms Argjenta Dociqi, animal rights figure, on Facebook.  

In rural areas of Kosovo, stray dogs are even more numerous, dying of hunger, cold or killed by humans.

In Pristina, several dozen people demonstrated at the end of May behind a banner reading “I didn’t have the strength to defend myself, be my voice”.

In the procession, Berta Meha, 11, explained: “If we harm animals, they are aggressive towards humans”, but “if we feed them and do not harm them, they will not be aggressive”.  

“Taking care of a dog is expensive, and not everyone can afford it,” the mayor of Pristina told AFP. “That’s why we help families who commit to adopting stray dogs.”

Her plan isn’t just about finding foster families. He also wants to bring together all the animals waiting to be adopted in large shelters where they would be vaccinated and sterilized.  

The collection of dogs has already started, and “will continue until not a single one is left on the street,” says Mr. Rama.

Sami Haxhaj was one of the first residents of the capital to adopt not one, but ten dogs, through this municipal program.  

“I want to do something for them,” explains the 52-year-old mechanic, pointing to the row of kennels and the yard where his animals can now play without danger to themselves or others.  

“I am happy to have given them shelter, food and space,” he adds. He also hopes to soon have permission to take in 10 additional dogs.  

Bajram Kazagiqi, an architect in his sixties, applauds: “If we want to take care of our residents, then we must also take care of stray dogs as if they were part of the family, because they also live in this city”.

But the mayor’s project has not received only praise.  

“Are we rich enough to spend money on dogs? » asks Mirsad Balaj, a 65-year-old retiree. “They should all be sterilized, otherwise the entire state budget will end up going to the dogs.”

“If the estimates of the number of stray dogs in the capital are correct, then with around 2 million euros per year we can seriously hope to solve the problem,” assures the mayor. Adding that “someone had to start this battle.”  

For the director of the Animal Rights Foundation, Elza Ramadani, we should also “focus on the causes of the problem: the lack of birth control and abandonment”.  

She therefore does not expect miracles or an immediate reduction in the number of stray dogs: “It will happen perhaps in 10 or 20 years, when we have more love for animals, and when society as a whole will want to adopt them.”