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Stray Dogs in The South

19 January 2009
The reader’s letter published in the Bari newspaper, La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno talks about the problem of stray dogs in the South of Italy. Certainly that does seem to be something of a feature in certain areas, and it’s yet another thing that gives the South of Italy rather a distanced feel from the rest of Europe. Of course, you get stray dogs everywhere, but if they tear an old lady to pieces, as this reader’s letter reports, then they’d tend, in the more northern parts of Europe, to be pretty swiftly dealt with by the authorities I would think.
The letter translates, in my own translation, as follows:
An old lady dies in Sannio, torn apart by stray dogs. [Sannio is presumably the Sannio in Campania, although this is a Puglia newspaper] A horrible death to happen to a defenceless person on foot, who had difficulty walking, attacked by dogs who had no owner.
Yet another problem with strays, abandoned and ignored in the south of Italy, ending in the spotlight. But how many more people must be attacked and torn to pieces before we give take it seriously and possibly consider how to contain the problem?
The outskirts of cities, the countryside, rural and inland areas (Murgia, Gargano) are ever more besieged by dogs without owners, stray if not gone wild. The problem is well-known by those people who venture out alone or in small groups, to run or to ride a bicycle on the secondary roads.
Increasingly these days for example in Puglia people are becoming interested in cycling and there are initiatives for signage, for promoting itineraries on secondary roads, for producing maps and guides, not only for the local cycling market but also nationally and internationally, there is a need for major and serious consideration by various public organisations and institutions to work more closely together on the phenomenon of health and animal well-being. [Er, yeah, though understandable signposts and maps that are available in the shops might make the writer’s case more convincing. Walker’s maps in Italy tend to be bizarre in the extreme]
They should certainly punish those who, accustomed to the throwaway culture, discard dogs, big or small, at the slightest excuse, like an old toy that’s of no more use. Campaigns should be put in place to respect domestic animals and there should be more resources put into the sterilisation of stray dogs. We know that you cannot combat an aggressive dog with kennels.
As usual in this newspaper, the letters editor prints a reply:
Yes, something must be done, and not, I’d say, only by the walker who has to face the hazard. My fear, however, is that the direction will be lost between the sterilisation of the dogs and the solution to the problem, because the conditions are getting worse for ever more accentuating the aggression of the dogs. Conditions, I must not omit to say, that depend on us humans, ever less respectful of the space in which we circulate.
Until we are able to rebel against this space, with its thrown-out inhabitants. Commencing with the animals, or rather the strays. They are neither good nor bad animals, they are strays.
That final paragraph went a bit haywire didn’t it. Perhaps he was running short of space. But you get the idea. Stray dogs in the south of Italy are a problem, and no one seems to be doing much about it. They give the south of Italy a wild and lawless feel (or are one of the numerous things that do that). Just be careful when out riding your bicycle.


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