Some comments on the capture of stray animals.
All our activities such as capture, impounding and other actions in connection with animals are governed by laws. In its turn, these laws also govern our contract with the city of Tallinn and contracts with other counties, cities and rural municipalities.
Reporting a stray animal in Tallinn is easy:
A citizen spots a stray animal, calls the 24 h shelter phone number 631 4747, the operator receives the call and registers it in the database. If the call is urgent, the operator sends a text to the catcher providing the exact address and other relevant information. We regularly check the database and respond timely to all calls pursuant to the provision on capture and impounding of animals in the contract that we have entered into with the city of Tallinn.
We send weekly a list of calls received by our operator (the so-called call database) to a contact person in the ministry, according to a provision in the same contract.
Reporting a stray animal in counties and rural municipalities is a bit more complicated:
A citizen spots an animal, calls it in to a public official responsible for stray animals in his county/rural municipality (contact details are available in THIS section), the public official calls us, we come, capture the animal and transfer it to the shelter.
Capture of cats.
It is carried out according to the law as well as to the Rules for Keeping Dogs and Cats, Clause 4.2 of Section 4 of Part I. For us it means that an animal does not have an owner. We don’t investigate, don’t go round asking whose cat it is, how long has it been around, we ignore the calls like “This cat is always sitting here on the bench! Why did you take it? My cat is used to doing this”!! Unless you are near your cat, the cat is deemed stray. We respond strictly to calls. Usually, we receive calls like this: “These cats fouled my doorstep; they dig in the garden and flower beds, fight. Take them away”! Pursuant to our contract with the city of Tallinn, we respond to the call and take stray animals away. I want to stress that every cat and dog that get to the shelter are checked for the presence of a microchip. EVERYONE! And only one in 400 cats has this infamous microchip. Let alone a collar or capsule with the owner’s address and phone number where the cat may be returned. A cat that is running around on its own is a stray cat for us. It’s impossible to establish the fact of ownership unless a cat has a microchip, collar or some other identification referring to the owner who may be contacted. I want to emphasise that since 1 August 2006 every owner of a cat, dog or any other pet animal has needed to ensure that his/her pet has a microchip (See the Rules for Keeping Dogs and Cats, Section 21 of Part III).
Your animal, say cat, was wandering around, went to your neighbour’s, defecated on his doormat and dug in his garden beds – it’s your problem, not ours. A citizen spotted a stray animal in his yard that caused damage to him (you, as the owner, are not supervising your pet at this moment = the animal is deemed stray. It’s simple, really), called the shelter, reported the location of the cat, we responded to the call and took the animal away.
If you don’t want your cat to end up in a shelter, you – as the owner and in accordance with the law and the Rules for Keeping Dogs and Cats – must supervise your animal, walk it on a leash or provide it with a securely fenced walking area that prevents it from getting outside, causing damage to your neighbours or someone’s property or endangering itself. It’s your carelessness that harms your own animals, whereas we just do our job in accordance with the law, rules and other legal acts that all our work is based upon and that we are obliged to follow. In this case you cannot blame us at all. I just suggest you think about how closely you – as the owner of a pet (cat, in this case) – comply with the rules for keeping pets. If your cat got used to wandering around on its own and you think that limiting its freedom is derogatory, we advise you not to take a pet at all or put up a fence that will effectively prevent it from getting into a neighbour’s garden. We will not investigate whether a cat has an owner: unless the owner is around, the cat is deemed a stray. And glistening hair is not an indication of having an owner: there are many homeless cats whose hair glistens better than that of pet cats.
Capture of dogs.
It is mostly similar to the capture of cats. Citizens worrying about a stray animal call us. They are right to be worried because we receive in the shelter at least one dog every week that was hit by a car. Many dogs die, others suffer for a long time.
Think, please, who is guilty of their pain? The shelter? I don’t believe so! We just sort out your problems, treat the wounded, try to re-home those animals that have been in the shelter for a long time. You – as the owner – are guilty, because you let your dog walk without supervision and then it gets hit by a car resulting in a concussion or lethal wound. Just yesterday we received a pregnant dog whose left hind leg was injured by a car.
We also gather dead animals from roads. 40% of such animals are dogs, 30% – cats. Others are birds and other wild animals (roe deer, raccoons, foxes and others).
As to the microchips, the situation with dogs is much better than with cats. A dog taken to the shelter is immediately checked for the presence of a microchip and if the owner’s details are available from the database, we contact the owner at once, asking to take his/her dog from the shelter.
At this moment we are often yelled at – “What do you mean, you have my dog?!”
It’s very easy: an honest, worried citizen spotted an unsupervised dog, called us, we came and took the dog away to prevent it from being accidentally hit by a car or getting some other wound/trauma. We as well as the citizen acted correctly in this situation! Because we both acted for the good of the animal, preventing any possibility of wounds and hits that the dog could get when wandering on its own. Especially in winter, when a short-haired stray dog is roaming around at -20 C.
The only thing you have to do as the owner of a pet, be it a cat or a dog – always accompany your animal. Nothing more. If you are not present and the animal is wandering on its own, it is considered a stray and can be captured and placed in the shelter.
Director of the Tallinn Animal Shelter