Many Russian veterinarians warn that the treatment of a dog as commodity can sometimes have grim consequences. Dog breeds that veterinarians consider aggressive are popular with the newly affluent Russians. Next to the sport utility vehicle of the moment, dogs of a particular breed are a macho status symbol. However, if they fail their owners, many dogs end up on the street.
Sergei Filatov, head of the Moscow Veterinary Service, told ABC News, "Many Moscovites treat animals as status symbols. … If they don't like them, they throw them out. This makes all our educational efforts null and void and makes our streets more dangerous."
There are also those like Larissa, a pensioner, who spends much of her time attending to the homeless dogs, whom she regards as the less fortunate inhabitants of her town.
She told ABC News, "I come and feed them every morning. Homeless people often have themselves to blame, but these helpless creatures depend solely on us. I will always defend them. Come spring and they will have more puppies no one needs. They'll grow up and chances are they'll be hunted down."
Alexandra Nadezhdina contributed to this report.